Fear of the Grocery Store Shouldn’t Be Part of Our New Normal

by Kassandra Lamb ~ Up until last Friday morning, I’d planned a completely different blog post for this week, one on mystery subgenres (which we’ll run next week). Then I realized there was a far more important topic I should be addressing—fear of the grocery store.

And then, it dawned on me that it shouldn’t have taken me several days to come to that realization.

We’d had two mass killings in less than a week, the second one in a grocery store, and it took me days to realize I should blog about them. And therein lies the problem.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all political on you here. It’s a complicated issue, with no easy solution.

But as a psychologist, I feel the need to make this observation:
Research study after research study has found that, when people are exposed repeatedly to violence—whether on TV, in movies, in video games (worst of all), or on the news—they become desensitized to it. They lose their sense of horror; violence becomes normalized.

And here I was, having exactly that reaction. Until I read a friend’s blog post. She lives just outside of Boulder, Colorado, and the whole thing was brought home to her big time when Facebook asked her to “check in” so her friends would know she’s okay.

When will it end?

In December of 2012, I put aside the Christmasy post I had planned and wrote instead about Sandy Hook, and about grief. In April of 2013, I wrote a post on #BostonStrong after the marathon bombing.

And in October of 2017, I put aside yet another lighthearted post and wrote about #VegasStrong, and in that post, I’d talked about desensitization even.

But here I was, after two incidents in rapid succession, not even thinking that perhaps I should address them. Yet, I didn’t have to write a whole new post, because I’d already said it before. Here are the last two paragraphs of the Sandy Hook/grief post:

The final stage [of grief] is acceptance. In individual grief, this is the point where we come to grips with the loss and begin to truly move on. With regard to tragedies like this one, it’s more about we put it aside and stop thinking about it and get on with life.

Honestly, I hope we never get there with this tragedy. It is not okay to accept such senseless killings. We do need to figure out ways to make our society less violent. I have no answers to this myself, but I pray that we can find those answers in a civil and cooperative manner. Our country is better than this!

Sadly, since Sandy Hook, nothing that even vaguely resembles “civil and cooperative” has happened. And we have reached the stage of the wrong kind of acceptance. It has become easier and easier to put these incidents aside and stop thinking about them.

Here’s a quote from the #VegasStrong post:

When we don’t have any more emotional energy left for shock, horror, grief, we go into a different kind of denial. It’s called desensitization. The bad stuff has become normalized.

Just do it!

Honestly, I’m getting tired of writing about these horrors. Our country IS better than this! Yes, it’s a complicated problem, and the solution will need to be a multi-pronged one. But we need to do it… just do it!

For over a year now, we’ve been a bit afraid—or maybe a lot afraid depending on our age and/or health—to go to the grocery store, for fear of contracting a deadly illness. Slowly, that fear is lifting as more people are vaccinated and we move toward herd immunity.

And now we are afraid of the grocery store for a whole new reason. That is not okay. “Land of the Free” should mean freedom from fear in our day-to-day lives.

We are also “Home of the Brave.” But brave isn’t just about fighting enemies in wars. It’s also about being brave enough to put aside differences and work together. So let’s be brave enough to face this complex problem, find the complex solution(s) and make it happen.

Because I, for one, am not willing to have fear of the grocery store become a permanent part of my new normal.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida. She also writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Jessica Dale.

Misterio press produces an array of quality crime fiction. We post here twice a month, usually on Tuesdays, to alert you to new releases, to entertain, and to inform.

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  • Reply
    Cheryl Arcemont
    March 30, 2021 at 10:46 am

    I agree that there are no easy answers. I do know part of the solution is in education. I am not talking about schools, although this is another great place to start. I am talking about educating ourselves with our neighbors and community. Know what the census of feelings and/or tension around us. I do not know if you are old enough to remember, but as I was growing up we knew who are neighbors were, what they did for a living, how many close relatives, and numbers to contact in case of emergency. We communicated with them every day even if only to smile and wave “Hi!” What happened to our society that we have gotten to the place where not only do we not know our neighbors but make no attempt at communicating. We are too busy with life to not even stop to find out the person or family living right next door that may have lived there for decades but know everything personal about celebrities we never see or talk with our whole life. This, of course, is just my personal opinion but I am hoping we can change the trends! I will, one neighbor at a time!
    Hugs and have a fabulous week!
    Cheryl Arcemont

  • Reply
    Kassandra Lamb
    March 30, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    A very good point, Cheryl. I’m ashamed to say that new neighbors moved in next door over three years ago, and we didn’t actually meet them until last year when they were getting their roof redone. And we live in a smaller city in the South.

    I do remember when I was a kid, we knew everybody on our street, maybe not as friends, but we knew their names and basic story.

    Hugs back atcha! (Indeed, the lack of hugs right now is possibly also part of the problem. After this whole mess is over, I’m tempted to stand on a street corner with a sign that says “Free Hugs!”)

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