Why do we love to tell scary stories? Better yet, why do we love to hear them and be scared by them? What’s with the rampant worldwide fascination with being creeped out, thrilled, frightened out of our wits, given nightmares, and being filled with dread of the unknown? It’s much more than just a pop culture phenomenon; it’s a timeless fascination with all things morbid, gruesome, and freakish that has been passed down from generation to generation ever since we lived in caves and gathered berries and hunted game for all our food.
Humans have been entranced by the unknown since ancient times when storytellers huddled around campfires and mesmerized their captive audience with stories meant to frighten them. It’s in our basic nature, as irrefutable and irresistible as the urge to procreate.
Humans are naturally curious
Only a few short years ago, the Hubble telescope took pictures of billions of galaxies never before seen and barely even imagined, proving the universe is far more vast than we can even comprehend. Dark matter and dark energy were only recently discovered, and quantum physicists are working overtime to unlock the nature of their previously hoarded secrets. Even the vacuum of space between the stars has a life of its own!
We want to know more about the unknown, and learn the secrets of that which cannot be readily perceived with just our five senses. As Shakespeare so famously said, there are far more things in Heaven and on Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies.
We want to open that locked door and get a peek inside to see what exists beyond.
We're adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers
Jules Verne wrote a wildly fictional story about a manned submersible underwater craft, and someone decided to invent one. The famous Wright Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright decided that man should be able to fly, and made it happen in 1903. U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager piloted the Bell X-1 aircraft that broke the sound barrier in 1947.
Despite the supposed mathematical impossibility, scientists, engineers, and physicists are constantly seeking to achieve faster-than-light travel. Witness the Large Hadron Collider, a mind-boggling achievement of modern quantum physics technology.
New species are being discovered every day, from the darkest, deepest fathoms of our oceans to the frozen "wastelands" of the Arctic. Maybe somewhere in our own small world there be dragons and monsters.
Sometimes it seems we need only to imagine possibilities, and some intrepid explorers discover them, or some amazing geniuses make them come true. Medical research specialists are making incredible advances every day, and may even one day develop a cure for cancer as well as the common cold - and maybe even discover a way to reverse the aging process. With the advent of microchip technology and the still relatively new field of nanotechnology, we have successfully made a thousand angels dance on the head of a pin (or more accurately, on the point of a needle). Who knows what astounding discoveries or fantastic inventions may come next?
And a more horrifying yet very real possibility is this: Will we destroy our amazing world before we learn how to save it? We have risen to the level of demigods in many ways, and have necessarily accepted the great responsibility of being stewards and guardians of our wonderful planet. Will we turn it back into the prosperous, blossoming garden of life it once was, or will we destroy it - and annihilate ourselves in the process - in an apocalyptic maelstrom of fire?
What will be our fate: Damnation, despair, and extinction, or prosperity, propagation, and proliferation? It's up to US to leave a legacy of virtue and good fortune for posterity.
No other subject is more fascinating to the human mind than the prospect of some form of life after death
From classic ancient literature to modern day fables, stories of an afterlife abound, with ghost stories at the top of the list. I even wrote a novel about the afterlife world, and am currently seeking to get it published.
Some people spend their careers and even lifetimes trying to prove the existence of ghosts, because doing so would prove the irrefutable existence of an afterlife. It would not only change the world, it would also change the entire basic nature of humankind. Even life itself would forever after be altered and perceived differently.
Maybe, if we knew for a certainty that an afterlife existed and if we were lucky and smart as a species, we would even stop killing each other and embrace and cherish this far too brief existence we call "life." If we do that, we might even wake up from the primitive, barbaric infancy of our evolution as a species and learn how to peacefully explore the universe together.
Maybe not, but that is the nature of dreamers such as myself: In order to make the big dreams come true, we must dream big. And I freely and happily admit I’m one of the biggest dreamers of all.
Scaring each other is fun!
This is historically proven by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Dante Alighieri, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.P. Lovecraft, and even by the fear-inducing classic paintings of the likes of Hieronymus Bosch, among countless others.
It's a perfect example of how words have the power to outlive their creators and survive even the test of time, the legibility of the ink on paper, or the decay of the computer files on which they’re originally written.
After all, what writer wouldn't want to be remembered as the man or woman who nearly scared the world to death?
Finally, I'm going to use one of my personal examples to answer the question
Here is Mick’s answer: "The world will always need stories. And people will always need to be scared, so they’re reminded of what’s precious. And be better prepared to fight to preserve it, when the time comes to stand or fall."
Do YOU love being scared, and scary stories?
Check out my novel JAGANNATH and see if you can sleep without a light on!
I’m happy to hear you share YOUR ideas and answers. Please feel free to post your replies in the comments section below this article. And keep your eyes peeled, your mind open, and your senses alert:
You never know when the monsters may be coming for YOU!