Schneier on Security has an excellent post about how too many live in fear now, citing a mother who let her 9 yo son ride the NYC subway by himself, and got verbally attacked for doing so. He thinks, and so do I, that living one’s life thinking Scary Monsters threaten from all sides is nonsensical and self defeating.
NYC is actually quite safe now. The crime rate there is the same as in Provo, Utah.
A Feldenkrais practitioner told me about a fascinating study. They video’ed short clips of people at random walking down the street, showed them to criminals doing time for violent crimes, and asked, which ones are the victims. The inmates all choose the same people. And it wasn’t just the little old lady clutching her purse, they also choose a pumped bodybuilder.
The study then shown those chosen videos to an expert in body movement, and asked, what do these people all have in common? The answer: They are all using their bodies inefficiently. Rigid shoulders. Tense. Looking straight ahead. Not looking around, not paying attention to their surroundings. That’s what makes you a target.
A sociologist said in a long-ago college class that he, an Anglo, had been to Mecca once, and tried an experiment. He acted uncertain, and attempted to walk into a sacred Muslim-only area, and was politely told he wasn’t allowed. A little later, he acted confident, and walked in with no problem.
So, if you stay relaxed, pay attention to your surroundings, and act like you know where you’re going, you greatly reduce any chance of confrontation. And will probably enjoy things more as you’re doing so.