Witness Protection

When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?

This is a pretty hard question! I wrote 100 or so words about the examples given and found it hard to reach a conclusion because with a bungee jump I would rather have friends around with the rationale being that I’d more likely be scared than stressed so want the support and encouragement because it is more of a solo activity with known outcomes – I’ll either love it or die.


Public speaking is more likely to stress me than scare me (it doesn’t really do either in reality) because I’m fully in control over what I’m presenting but don’t necessarily know how it would be received, but it makes no difference whether I’m presenting to friends or strangers. Public speaking is an interaction involving more people than just me so, while I can nail down my own part, I can’t do that for the other party. Unlike the bungee jump, however well I present I will never know what the outcome is until it happens.

I think living with the consequences is also a factor. I’m trying to think of another example but only one is coming to mind. Take the film Friends With Benefits. When Dylan and Jamie decided that they were going to go for it, they agreed that no emotions would be involved – it was just like playing tennis. However, because they were friends, there was a risk because if emotions did start to come in to play (as they did) then they would have to live with the consequences. The Friendzone will have been breached. Obviously in this instance the consequences were a happily ever after, but the opposite could have happened.


To mitigate that, they could have gone out one night, gone home with a random, done The Walk of Shame / The Stride of Pride in the morning and never thought of it or the person again. Assuming everything was in order (hopefully I don’t have to be too graphic here!), there would be nothing to live with. They would have scratched the itch (no, I won’t say it) which was what the arrangement was about, with no repercussions.

In this case, the action is exactly the same but the stress or scariness comes from the consequences.

That’s roundabout.  I know what I mean.  Hopefully you can understand what I’m getting at!

She left a week to roam
Your protector’s coming home
Keep your secrets with you
Safe from the outside

Your Protector by Fleet Foxes

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