Monday December 22, 2014
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I have often had a feeling that an article I was reading left out a critical fact. This is one of those cases.
Last Thursday, Alejandro Garibay, a 23-year-old bank employee from Stockton, California, was standing on something called The Ledge on the Sears Tower in Chicago watching the fireworks at the Navy Pier. The Ledge, made of glass, is a place located 103 floors above the street which allows people to feel they are standing on air.
This is called "fun."
Suddenly, Alejandro heard the glass breaking. He saw the ledge disintegrating into what he describes as a "busted windshield," and somehow or other (how is not mentioned) he "felt tiny bits of it on his palms" as he and his relatives jumped back to avoid learning how to fly without an aircraft.
"Up until that second it was awesome," he says. He also says, "All I knew is the glass is underneath me, there's 103 floors going all the way down, and this glass is broken -- and I'm thinking I'm going to say hello to the sidewalk in just a few seconds."
Nothing — maybe. Alejandro did not have to learn how to flap his arms, and "officials" say that although the attraction was closed for "routine inspection" there was no danger because while cracks sometimes appear in the glass coating they do not affect the "structural integrity" of the ledge.
So far so good, but what about the important question?
The Question Is....
Did anyone on The Ledge require recourse to toidy paper after the event?
Not that everyone who walks out on the glass paths above the Grand Canyon or the streets of Chicago is some kind of freak, but psychologists wonder about the need to seek out some kind of simulated danger.
Personally, I don't know whether or not I would like that Grand Canyon stroll. Planes don't bother me, but then simple logic says that when you look out the window of a plane you probably know full well that you are sitting safely in a seat on a machine that is made to fly, so barring some unforeseen event you are safe.
On the other hand, it fear of heights appears to be instinctive in humans. I've read that in carefully controlled experiments babies were placed on a table top with a checkered cloth under it. Under one end of the table the checkered cloth was right under the glass; on the other end it was three or four feet below it. Even though called by a parent with something such as a pretty toy, most babies would stop at the edge of the glass where they could see a drop, suggesting that there is an innate fear of heights.
As far as I know, no one has ever gone back and correlated the studies done about that with what type of individual the babies became in later life. However, studies of sensation-seeking adults suggest that they were risk takers right from early childhood.
Since studies show that high-sensation seekers tend to become problems for society, it might be an interesting study. For example, it is not difficult to predict who will, and who will not, have trouble with law as far as driving is concerned. Here are five quotes taken from the studies on the subject of high-sensation seekers:
• Sensation seeking is related to driving speed, with both males and females high in sensation seeking more likely to engage in speeding.
• High sensation seekers are more likely to ignore traffic rules and engage in high risk behaviours associated with accidents and/or crashes resulting in driver injuries.
• High sensation seekers prefer listening to music such as loud hard rock.
• High sensation seekers are also more likely to enjoy ... unpleasant art forms (defined as presence of violent or aggressive content or themes of death and despair).
• High sensation seekers are more likely to contract venereal diseases or or be involved in unwanted pregnancies.
Psychologists call it "disinhibited behavior," and say that among other characteristics, "Individuals who show disinhibited behaviour tend to have this as part of a cluster of challenging behaviours including verbal aggression, physical aggression, socially inappropriate behaviour, sexual disinhibition, wandering, and repetitive behaviour." They also are, "Thrill- and adventure-seeking, desiring outdoor activities involving unusual sensations and risks."
We're all different, of course, but I wondered what you thought about things like those glass walks.
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