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Are You Anthropophobic?

I was somewhat disheartened because I had worked for weeks on scheduling an interview panel of diverse people and backgrounds. They were all personal friends that I've accumulated over the past couple of years. Some go back 20 years plus. Nevertheless I wanted them to enter a dialogue with people who knowingly think differently than they do. The show was scheduled for a Friday evening and with stay-at=home orders it seemed like the perfect time for such an event. Long story short, the event happened and it was phenomenal but I couldn't help but notice that a few of the scheduled panelists informed me 15 minutes before show time that they would not make it. In addition to that, I had a few who when asked, stated that they didn't think it would be good for them to be in the conversation. Yes I believe we are anthropophobic.

I went to google to find out what you call people who are afraid of people and I found this word, anthropophobic. People who are anthropophobic have a fear of people and may withdraw altogether, communicating with others only through snail mail or electronic means such as e-mail or text messaging. Bingo that's what's happening to us today.


This is becoming more evident as I have occasion to interview and invite people to participate on a video or podcast concerning the issue of "race." In many cases they will get on if they are only talking to me, but will not do it if there are "strangers" participating. I have a friend who will lash out at friends and/or enemies on facebook. He will talk boldly and brashly about how people better watch it because "he doesn't play." So I asked this young man to sit on a video panel to dialogue with other people and never heard from him again, except that he is still a fierce facebook warrior. He wasn't the only one who did such, I had another good friend who decided at the last minute, I can't make it to sit on the diverse panel of people that we had arrayed. You know what I think. I think we're actually scared of each other.


So many now only socialize with those who have beliefs that reinforce our own. This is social segregation. When we socially segregate we live in the proverbial "echo chamber" where everything we hear sounds like what we said and we thus feel comfortable. We need to step outside of the known, safe zones and experience more thought and ideas outside of ourselves. This calls for new relationships, new challenges and new adventures to expose us to new ways of thinking.

Today if you are scared of people and especially of people who don't look like you or think like you, then you could be anthropophobic. You can easily fix that but it takes courage to befriend someone "not like you," but do it anyway. The world is a better place if we build more bridges and simply "make new friends."

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