What Stranger Things Can Teach Us About Fear
For those of us trying to stay right side up in the upside down that is the world we live in, Stranger Things can teach us some pretty interesting things about fear.
While the Goonies feel of Stranger Things is enough to make you reminisce about the times you and your friends did things mom and dad never knew about, it also brings up thoughts and feelings that we can all relate to when it comes to what we fear most: the unknown.
NOTE: If you haven’t seen Stranger Things, YOU SHOULD DO THAT RIGHT NOW because it’s awesome and I spoil a lot of the mystery you deserve to see firsthand. Also, you may not understand what the heck I’m talking about.
Stranger Things Season 2 aired today, so this article is in honor of the fantastic cast and storyline.
1. Big things in small towns
You shouldn’t like things because people tell you you’re supposed to. – Jonathan
For those of us that grew up in small towns, we can relate to the shock that sets in when something bigger than ourselves occurs.
When Will goes missing, the entire town feels his absence.
No one understands what is going on. Where did he go? Is he dead?
Fear encourages us to ask outlandish questions and pose crazy theories without knowing all we can about the situation.
Sometimes, this hurts people involved. While we don’t like to think what we say and do actually affects others, it does. Fear likes to keep us in a place where we give up control and let our wilder imaginations take over at the expense of others.
2. Friends can be superheroes
No, no El… you’re not the monster. You saved me. Do you understand? You saved me. – Mike
I know I’m not the only one who adores Will’s group of friends.
Not only are these kids funny as hell and supportive of one another, they care about their missing friend. So much so, they end up risking their own lives to find him.
And Eleven, El, the newest member of the tribe risks her life as well and she hasn’t even met
3. Childlike imagination helps us solve problems
Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked? – Dustin
Without the ingenuity and peculiar rationality of younger minds, Will’s friends would have never found him, and they wouldn’t have any knowledge of the experiments.
Kids ask crazy things, but this is because kids use their brains more freely than adults.
While I said it’s not a good thing to let our minds wander endlessly, that’s usually because, as adults, we use information from our immediate world to dictate how we talk about things and to whom we talk about those things; it’s a bubble.
Speculation can easily turn to gossip for an adult, but a child tends to see all the details of a story or idea and relay what he or she sees in a colorful and expansive light.
Will’s friends like to play D&D; they are used to creating unique scenarios and using their brains on the fly to keep the game progressing.
When the boys meet Eleven and learn more about her past and current circumstances, it doesn’t take a lot of brain work for them to decide they are a part of a situation much like D&D.
Fear likes us to put things in that bubble.
If the way we have dealt with a situation beforehand does not work for us a second time around, we have a tendency to feel helpless. The boys teach us not to think too hard about it. They teach us to use our immediate surroundings and a little imagination to better understand what the heck is happening around us.
4. Accepting and trusting our intuition
I don’t care if anyone believes me. – Joyce
One of the things I fear most is when I have a gut feeling about something that I can’t explain to anyone else. Will’s mom, Joyce, struggles with the idea floating around that Will is probably dead; she can’t get her heart and mind to believe that.
Like a lot of us, there are situations we can think back to where we had an idea of what was happening before it happened. We weren’t 100% sure of the outcome, but in the end, it proved to be true.
Fear likes to make us feel crazy; it wants us to ignore our gut. Intuition isn’t something we can see or necessarily explain, but it is visceral; we can feel it in the core of who we are.
Joyce knew Will couldn’t be dead.
One day, Joyce is home and the phone rings. She can barely make out words or sounds; there’s a lot of static. But the faint voice of Will can be heard for a brief moment. It’s as if he’s in the house with her.
I’m getting chills writing this, because, later, Joyce learns Will is in the same house just not the same reality. She doesn’t know how to get to him, but her gut is right: he’s alive.
Stranger Things can teach us more than we’d expect from a seemingly cutesy Netflix series. While the cast is mainly kids, the storyline is enthralling and extremely powerful.
It is a good reminder that even when our greatest fears come to life, we can still overcome.
Have you seen Stranger Things? Did you learn something that surprised you?
Don’t forget to check out next week’s episode of Mine Space Over Coffee where we will talk about the fears of others and their stories of triumph.