As we fill big bowls with candy in preparation for next week’s onslaught of little ghosts and goblins, then eat all the candy and fill the bowls again, we know that we live in a time of fearsome frights. And I’m not just talking about Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, which is apparently keeping people up way past their bedtimes and even sending them rushing to the bathroom. I’m not talking about a notorious Spotify ad with a haunting doll that’s so scary a British watchdog agency wants it banned. I’m not even talking about Aladdin, which Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis says freaked her out something awful.
I’m talking about the real terrors that haunt our days and nights. And for our first stop, let’s travel to Sweden.
In a plot pulled straight out from any number of sci-fi/horror-movie dystopias, thousands of Swedes are sticking microchips into their hands—implanting them straight under their skin and biohacking themselves into low-grade cyborgs. “The chips are designed to speed up users’ daily routines and make their lives more convenient—accessing their homes, offices and gyms is as easy as swiping their hands against digital readers,” according to an article from npr.org.
Convenient? Perhaps. But to some, that might seem just begging for trouble, as technology has proven to be much of a bane as a boon. Why, just this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that our personal data was being “weaponized” against its users. (The tech mogul was pushing for stronger privacy laws.)
But who needs computer chips when you’ve got marijuana? That’s what lots of Canadians said following the country’s legalization of recreational pot. Days after the law went into effect, the country started running out of cannabis. Perhaps that’s because the substance can be consumed in so many ways, as many U.S. teens could tell them. A recent study in Los Angeles found that 62% of teens had consumed marijuana in at least two different ways—smoking or vaping or eating the stuff. Frightening indeed.
(Teens are scaring us in other ways, too: A new AAA study found that teens who drive with other teens are twice as likely to die behind the wheel. Just staying awake can be deadly, too, with rates of teen suicide rising as the teens’ hours of sleep fall.)
Not worried yet? Well, try this: Despite the fact that science now confirms that fewer sex partners mean a happier marriage later on, more than half of births in the United States take place outside wedlock. Also, you should really exercise more. Failing to do so is worse for you than smoking and diabetes.
Want to turn on a little music to make you feel better? Depending on your tastes, sorry. Fans of the Beatles may mourn that Drake sprinted past the fab four for the most top 10 singles in history. Fans of Rihanna may mourn the fact that she’s not going to perform at the Super Bowl anytime soon—at least not until the National Football League gives Colin Kaepernick a job. (Comedian Amy Schumer is pressuring Maroon 5 to follow suit.) And fans of Ariana Grande can mourn her just-done engagement with comedian Pete Davidson. (“Does anybody have any open rooms?” he joked in a comedy routine.)
Oh, and if all that’s not enough to send you around the bend, get this: Apple had the audacity to release a bagel emoji without (you might want to sit down for this) cream cheese. The outcry was such that Apple has withdrawn its hideously dry breakfast-food icon. Truly scary, that lack of respect for the proud, chewy, cream cheese-slathered bagel.
But perhaps we shouldn’t give up hope just yet. Apparently, our brains tend to make pessimists of us all, tricking us to look at the gloomy aspects of life. And indeed, in some ways our world is getting a little less scary.
Consider that a study by Pew Research finds that youth have an easier time separating facts from opinion. And while we’ve offered some sobering stats on drug use here and elsewhere, deaths from drug overdoses are beginning to level off. And marijuana isn’t the only substance flying off shelves: Golden Girls cereal is, too. (While that might not be explicitly good news, it’s surely way better for you than marijuana-laced gummy bears, and it may even qualify as an important part of a balanced breakfast.)
Finally, let’s turn our attention to Steve Sansweet. When the former Wall Street Journal reporter was 31 years old, he saw a little movie called Star Wars (that’s Episode IV: A New Hope for you youngsters): He, like many of us, loved the movie. He, unlike many of us, dedicated his life to buying every bit of Star Wars memorabilia he could get his hands on. His collection now includes more than 400,000 items—so many, in fact, that he’s created a 9,000 square-foot museum dedicated to all of his toy—er, collectables.
Sure, perhaps Sansweet’s money could’ve been used more wisely. But better to dwell on something you enjoy than be terrified of the future, right?
Of course, if a company ever releases a Star Wars-branded implantable computer chip, all bets are off.