Missouri's Most Googled Fear? Commitment

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What fears consume us in Missouri? Is it the fear of tornadoes? They touch down here a little too frequently to leave us blase. Or violent crime? We all know there are way too many guns here .... or, depending on our political framing, too many bad guys willing to use them. Or what about jellyfish? We totally have those!

Yet the answer, according to a new study, is none of the above. In Missouri, we're scared of commitment.

That finding comes from YourLocalSecurity.com, which analyzed Google Trends to see which states searched disproportionately for which phobias.

Overall, the fear of spiders (arachnophobia) and social situations (anthrophobia) are the most common. But break things down by state, and things start to get much more interesting — and, in many cases, logical.



New York, for example, was most likely be Googling "fear of driving," which makes sense in a state whose largest city relies heavily on public transportation. That fear also led the way in New Jersey, which also makes sense if you've ever encountered Jersey drivers. They're insane. We'll leave it at that.

Meanwhile, in New Mexico, they're afraid of the dark. Have you seen how dark it gets out West once you're away from the big cities? No wonder they're turning to Google to give their fear a clinical name (nyctophobia, duh). And in Michigan, they fear bugs — which, if we had the horseflies you see up in the Upper Peninsula, we'd be freaking out about too.

And Missouri's fear, too, makes sense. This is, after all, a state where even fourteen year olds could legally tie the knot until quite recently. Many did — with their parents actually pushing them into it. Fear of commitment? It's not just for 30something bros avoiding settling down in Soulard; surely some kids in the Ozarks have also been doing their best to evade lifetime commitments before they're ready for them.

Fortunately, state laws were recently changed. As of August, no one under sixteen can get married in Missouri, and sixteen and seventeen year olds now need their parents' permission.

Those changes, we'd posit, are likely to lead to a whole lot fewer Missouri kids frantically Googling "fear of commitment" as their families prepare to frog-march them down the aisle. Which might mean totally different results next year. Is there a name for the fear of rabid raccoons? If not, we could always just stick to guns.

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We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com