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He’s Still in the Line of Fire!

Here’s a pet peeve of mine that goes back a long time. In the famous scene in Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, Cary Grant is being strafed by an airplane. He runs away from the oncoming crop duster, toward the camera. It’s a great shot. It’s also ridiculously illogical. He’s still in the line of fire! The plane has less maneuverability than he does! Why doesn’t he turn and run at a 45 degree angle, out of the path of the oncoming plane! Or double back, getting under and then behind the plane, giving him time to flee or hide or something while the plane is turning around?

I have this issue every time I see someone in a movie or TV show being chased by a car, too. You’re on foot! Get out of the street! Run into a building! Jump behind a parked car or something! No, they run straight down the middle of the street, freaking out, until they get mowed down.

Allow me to use that as a metaphor. I apologize that I’m still going on about social media, but I’m trying to get my head around it. Studies show that stress can be transferred. When you’re around people who are freaking out, the odds that you will begin to freak out increase. That’s why people like me, who have anxiety disorders, do not run in front of the plane. We want to get out of the stressful situation as quickly and efficiently as possible, so we can center ourselves and calm down. Yet people not only keep putting themselves in front of oncoming danger, they walk into the metaphorical corn fields, on purpose, knowing that there are crop dusters waiting to shoot at them.

We already know that we can’t change other people, we can only change our own behavior. I can’t prevent the plane from shooting at me, but I can choose which way to run. I can certainly avoid the cornfield, if I know that there’s going to be a killer crop duster buzzing me. Yet we keep letting toxic news and trolls and other rude, cruel, and willfully ignorant actors into our homes through these screens we seem to keep collecting more and more of with each passing year. It’s becoming my new pet peeve. And the tension is not deftly directed by Hitchcock, nor do we get to look at Cary Grant.

Published in The Invisible College of Blogs

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