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Sometimes the news is just so scary, it's best to look for a suitable diversion.

Such as checking out America's most Googled fears.

"Yikes! America's Top-Searched Phobias in 2018" is a late September blog post by Laura Schmitz at Security Center News and Resources (yourlocalsecurity.com/blog).

On Sept. 27, the site revealed its second annual report showing America's top-searched phobias, broken down by state.

Since I didn't catch the 2017 report and you may not have done so either ... in 2017 the Top 5 most-searched phobias were fear of the unknown, fear of the number 13, fear of clowns (didn't help that the new version of Stephen King's It came out last year, I'm sure), fear of holes of the small, pattern-like variety (well, that rules out some fashions) and fear of the ocean (wait ... even if you're in the middle of it on a cruise ship, umbrella-decorated drink in hand?).

"This year, we updated our methodology to more accurately reflect the most common fears," Schmitz writes, and indeed, the phobias seem a bit more down to earth.

The two top fears of 2018:

• Fear of spiders. Well, except for fake ones around Halloween. They seem to have become the most overused yard and food decoration this month. Anyway, people in 11 states -- Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington -- all have arachnophobia and therefore cringe at the sight of the eight-legged freaks.

• Fear of people. Residents of another 11 states -- Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Maryland, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin -- seem to suffer from anthrophobia, described as "a morbid fear of social situations," so one might want to party elsewhere.

I have a bit of a different fear of people: Everybodyandtheirmamphobia. That's the fear that no matter how early in the morning or late in the evening I decide to get out and run an errand, especially one involving a stop at the grocery store, everybody else will get the same idea.

Some of the other phobias, and the states whose populations apparently harbor them:

• Fear of commitment. I can hear some of the women snorting: "Heck, that's been the case everywhere." But the marriage-minded might especially want to avoid dating in Kentucky, Nevada and Missouri as the folks in these states apparently suffer from gamophobia, or "overwhelming fear of long-term obligations or marriage."

• Fear of driving, which I immediately assumed would be a New York or Los Angeles thing, thanks to those Manhattan streets jam-packed with honking drivers and those infamous California freeways. Sure enough, New York and its neighbor, New Jersey, harbor vehophobia, along with North Carolina and Ohio. The shocker: It wasn't an Arkansas thing. Between dealing with the fellow drivers and the roads, we're pining for Jetsons or Star Trek-type transportation here!

• So what do Californians fear? Earthquakes? Gidget movie remakes? Housingpricesraisedagainaphobia? Er, the state with all the zillionaire celebrities and gazillionaire Silicon Valley types is afraid of ... success. They've got achievemeohobia. Well, Cali residents, you can always fall back on that stereotypical slacker-surfer lifestyle. See Gidget character Kahuna.

• And so what does Arkansas fear? Tornadoes? The Fouke Monster? Beinginwalmartonsaturdayafternoonaphobia?

Well, we do have a ... fear of thunder.

That's it, a fear of thunder. Astraphobia, described as a "severe fear of thunderstorms and lightning," is our lot. These do get scary in the spring, but that seems anticlimatic.

• Perhaps the most surprising listing involves Texas, the state that, based on its stereotypes, one would think feared nothing. Texas suffers from a "fear of everything," aka panphobia. It's most easily compared to general anxiety disorder, according to Schmitz's post. The land of cowboys, football, the Lone Ranger and the Alamo is populated with Woody Allenites.

But we have no room to snicker at our big neighbor to the southwest and onetime fierce football rival for its fear of all and sundry. That snickering might just be interrupted by a big clap of you-know-what, sending us running for North Dakota or Wyoming. These states are listed as having no biggest fears.

Don't fear the email:

hwilliams@arkansasonline.com

Style on 10/21/2018

Print Headline: Phobias, fears are collective

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