Fear and Emotions
I get the impression that people are mostly governed by fear. It is an extremely effective emotion that causes people to do all sorts of fucked up things. For example, I am amazed how people are constantly edgy. I was biking home from work tonight, on the sidewalk, and there was a lady in front of me walking her dog. I usually just pass at nearly full speed on the grass, yet several times the women have actually screamed out loud at the surprise of my bike. The other option that I have would be to ring the bell in order to get them to move over a bit. This causes an equally funny problem. People have reaction times that are far too slow, and it simply causes confusion. For example, whenever I have done this, the person will usually turn around, take a second or so to react and figure out what they have to do, and THEN awkwardly move over. By this time, of course, my front wheel is straight up their ass, and their dog's leg is contorted in my gears.
Fear is especially important in politics and television. The media constantly plays the fear card in order to get people nervous or excited about things which they really shouldn't give a shit about in the first place. Political strategists will arouse emotions of fear in order to gain support or compliance. One needs to look no further than the justification for the Iraq war in order to understand how the public complied. Even today, the steady erosion of civil liberties in the name of security is being justified through the fear of invisible enemies and hypothetical situations. What is most scary, and the general population does not understand, is that the erosion of liberties occurs at such a gradual pace that each small step does not seem especially important. However, if we are to look back at the ground that has been lost at the end of a year, the score can be devastating. This is certainly the case with the totalitarian policies that the US government has implemented over the past few years.