Number one. Anxiety attacks. I've got this habit about myself that I don't love, which is that, like, if somebody says to me, “I've got cancer,” I say, you know, “What’s it feel like to have cancer?” And anyway, one time I asked that to somebody who had been in a car crash. I said, “Well what does it feel like to be in a very bad car crash?” And her reply was, one minute the car was like her best friend, and then the next minute, like in the blink of an eye, it had become like a kind of jagged weapon of torture. Like, she was inside some kind of medieval torture device. I kind of feel the same way about anxiety attacks. It just makes you realize that, you know, your state can alter very quickly. And I find that quite frightening
Number two. Twitter. I wrote a book a few years ago about social media shaming, and as a result, people who enjoyed social media shaming decided to try and get me. So there was a kind of concerted effort to do that for a couple of months, and I just remember waking up at three in the morning and, you know, going to the bathroom and checking Twitter, and there were 900 notifications, like, just while I slept. Nine hundred people had an opinion on me, and I'm an introvert so, you know, I found it overwhelming .
Number three. Germs, which is quite a new one for me.
Number four. Not being able to reach my son at three am. I started downloading all of these apps that tell you, like, about crimes happening in New York City because if I couldn’t reach him. Like, if I phoned him if he wasn't in at two in the morning and I phoned him he to pick up the phone I would then immediately go through all of those apps to see whether somebody matching his description had been in an accident. That wasn't good or helpful. But then I became aware of every crime happening in New York City. And, you know what I discovered that happens a lot more New York City than you'd imagine? Scaffolding falling on people.
Number five. Not being able to provide for my family.
Number six. My dogs running away. I have two dogs, Floppy and Josie. I can't let Josie off the leash because she just runs away and I just freak. She's not, like, one of those super dogs you sometimes see on the street that walk alongside their owner without a leash on. I mean, I guess there's just a total trust between human and dog. I could never do that. I could never do that. And then I'm stuck with the whole leash thing which I don't like either because that's all master-servant shit. I don’t feel comfortable with that. I want to be on an even playing field with Josie.
Number seven. Getting things ethically wrong.
Number eight. Conflict.
Number nine. Conflict avoidance. In most situations I'm not actually... even though I don't like conflict, I'm not conflict averse. But in certain situations I am conflict avoidant. And then what happens is I ruminate, you know, you then come up with things that you should have said. Sometimes, you know, you’ll let out a little tiny little yell of frustration, and then you think Oh my God I'm one of those middle aged Jews on the Upper West Side of New York who just yell at nothing.
Number ten. Dinner parties and saying the wrong thing in social situations. Do you remember Alison Moyet? She was huge in the 80s. She was practically Madonna level fame. Anyway, she told me a story, and the story was that she was a massive fan of Elvis Costello's, and she was at an Elvis Costello after party. And she talked to him and said, “I’m a massive fan.” And he said, “Did you enjoy the show?” And she heard herself say, “It went on a bit.” And she went home and didn't leave her house for years. She developed agoraphobia. I mean, we're laughing because it's so shocking, but honestly I identify with that. Twenty years ago I would have heard that story and thought, “That's like another planet.” That no longer feels like another planet.
My name is Jon Ronson and these are 10 things that scare me.