(fear of sharks)

While maybe the discovery of the word "galeophobia" was a new piece of information for you, I can almost guarantee that the meaning of it is nothing new. "The fear of sharks." It seems to me that from the time many of us are little, we are in some way conditioned to have this innate fear of these underwater predators. With their big and rigid jaws, it's easy to imagine being swallowed up with little to no effort on the shark's side.

When I was growing up, I had (and still partially do) this fear that there was always a shark in some large body of water. It didn't matter if it was a lake, a pond, or a murky pool, to me, there was always the potential for a shark to just automatically spawn and eat me right then and there. Having done a little bit of growing up, I know now that there's logically no way that a shark could somehow burrow from the ocean to the man-made lake of my small one-road hometown. However, in the back of my mind, I still think that there's some possibility that something could be lurking in those dark depths.

The source of my fear came from always seeing a shark in a negative or scary light in either movies or some other form of media. I slowly developed this unreasonable fear of sharks popping up in unusual bodies of water. The shark's relationship with popular culture has always been one of fear and high intensity. In most representations, you see this giant predator swimming around with this ominous cloud surrounding it and it makes it seem like just a quick glance from it will turn you into dust. We see this archetype shark all the time--especially in annual shows such as "Shark Week." I think that these series of week long scare tactics are put on TV for one purpose--to scare us. It's almost as if we encourage this fear. Sure, sharks are scary enough on their own (I mean, just look at that Goblin shark that's pictured up top), but, if things like "Shark Week" never happened or there had never been a "Jaws" franchise, do you think that our views of the shark would change?

Sharks would still be an absolute nightmare to picture. Stories from frequent sea-goers would just as easily replace the TV programs. But, would we still have this ferocious perspective without being constantly bombarded with TV shows and documentaries that run so frequently? I feel that this question is really important. I often wonder how our overall relationship would be with the shark if we didn't have this incredibly built up fear.