I don't believe that this societal paranoia is an overnight development. It all began in the 80s shoot maybe before that. Let me first preface to say that I am a child of the 1980s. I definitely was not babied as a child. Unless I have forgotten my childhood (which is possible), I do not remember my parents being overprotective. Anyway, at some point someone, probably some doctor with a book, decided that parents of the 80s babies had to show more nurturing and love to their kids. Kids didn't need tough love anymore, now they needed hugs and kisses and lesson on self esteem. All of a sudden we had medal for last place. Failing grades were changed from F's to E's as to not hurt a child's psyche. The use of antibacterial lotions and the overuse of drugs has made it hard for kids to fight off the common cold. Parents started fighting their children's battles. If a child didn't like a grade a parent made a call and threatened the teacher's job. So now we have generations of kids that never had the ability to tough things out and learn how to make mistakes on their own, courtesy of overprotective parents.
Now I do have to admit. We live in a different society now. People aren't as friendly. The moniker of it "takes a village" is no longer in place. We have become an individualistic society. There is an increase in the amount of violence and sex shown by the media and we are becoming more sensitized as a result. This is definitely not a world where you can feel safe by not locking your doors at night.
You have to admit the media and the government are contributors to this society of worry. For many years the government has trounced on our fears in order to win support. Remember the war propaganda from World War II. The same still held true for the "War on Terror" and the weapons of mass destruction. We were so ready to get in a battle that costs millions and thousands of lives with very little evidence. And the media market is owned by only a handful of people. Do you think that maybe they are profiting with each new disaster or potential super disease?
So maybe some paranoia is to be expected. But how can we balance our fears and not let our paranoia become part of our stress? Sometimes I feel like my friends and family can be too paranoid. My family told me no longer to call late at night to tell them I was going to crash at a friends house. They were too paranoid about receiving bad news at night... A few weeks ago I had a friend who was scared to jump on a trampoline because she was sure she was going to break something. Once, she loosened up and let go, she had a blast...and broke no bones :) Another friend told me that because of her profession she worries about potential brain damage of her nephew when he skateboards. Is there a difference between natural paranoia and hyper paranoia? Or maybe part of this worrying increases with age and knowledge?
What can we do? I don't know. To me things are going to happen. There is no way we can plan for everything. So why stress out over things we can't control. The only thing we can really do is take life day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute and be as prepared as you can, the rest is in God's hands.