By Stefanie Schappert
Special to the Clyde Fitch Report
New Yorkers are the most stressed-out, anxiety-ridden population in the U.S., according to a six-year personality-mapping study conducted by Cambridge University. The study found that New Yorkers, along with most of the East Coast, are also likely to be the most overwrought, burdened and impulsive population demographic in America.
Now, most New Yorkers could have told you that themselves. In fact, many of us wear it like a badge of honor. We thrive on being the city that never sleeps; we brag about it; we get impatient with other populations that don’t run on coffee and fumes from one day to the next. We try and fit more in a day than it seems some can fit into a lifetime. We are overachievers and proud of it, yet we forget that this pressure can wind us so tightly that we don’t even realize we live in a constant state of anxiety. We don’t know when to say “enough is enough — we can only take so much.”
So here we are, nearly a decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the most devastating loss of life and innocence most New Yorkers will ever face in their lifetime. And we’re faced with the possibility that a trial to punish 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed could take place just blocks away from where it all happened. After hearing all the moral, judicial and financial arguments from both sides of the political spectrum, I can’t shake the feeling that we are ignoring a big piece of the puzzle. I can’t help but wonder: How would the Sept. 11 terror trials taking place in our own backyard affect the sanity of a city that already teeters on the edge?
Neurotic New Yorkers have enough on their plates without being subjected to a three-ring circus and an Orwellian downtown lockdown. I mean, what New Yorker wants to walk past their local newsstand every morning for the next five years and be bombarded with annoyingly clever KSM-trial headlines splashed across all of our dailies? I imagine the Post and the Daily News would engage in their own outrageous cover wars: “The Sheikh Razzle-Dazzles the Jurors”; “KSM’s Fav TV Show: The Bachelor.” All the while, our Islamic enemies would grin with satisfaction about the free PR they’re getting in the name of Allah. You know that old Hollywood saying: “There is no such thing as bad press!”
Repeat it with me slowly: “Lockdown, armor and snipers every day for the next five years.” Can we really get used to gazing out our office windows and spotting uniformed men holding M-16s? When will it become normal to see armed soldiers standing guard at every street corner before it starts to seep into our psyche? To this day, I still get taken aback when I see my own husband, a Green Beret, in full kit. It’s something to get used to, I promise, especially in a civilian environment.
For those of us who like to travel (um, all New Yorkers), I shudder to think it could get even worse. Isn’t arriving to the airport three hours before our flights and watching suburban grandmas being forced to take off their sneakers enough at this point? Let’s face it: No one really believes our airport screeners are diligent enough to stop a determined terrorist from breaching security. Same goes for our bridges and tunnels. I don’t consider myself a paranoid person, but to this day my heart still skips a beat when a subway train screeches to a halt in between stops. I still scan a subway car for potential suicide bombers when I step in, and I still feel a sigh of relief when I don’t have to go through Grand Central during rush hour. I know I can’t be the only one who thinks this way. Are we destined for more paranoia? Last week — click on the video above — the national security heads admitted that an attack on U.S. soil is imminent over the next three to six months. New York is already the number one target even without the trial here.
And for those who think having trials an hour north of the city will lessen the anxiety, get real. Our upstate commuters, many of whom live right on top of a nuclear plant, are just as anxiety-ridden as our apartment dwellers. They just live in houses.
How will we handle more pedestrian and vehicle traffic downtown? By gritting our teeth. There is nothing more annoying than having to weave your way through throngs of people and metal barricades just to cross a street. You can forget about trying to find a cab willing to work its way through the maze of blocked off streets on any weekday. And what about the protesters who will inevitably show up to put their two cents into the mix? Oh, yeah, let’s not forget the Big Apple’s bread and butter: tourists. I can just see those picture-taking families and foreigners rushing over from Ground Zero to see if there are better souvenirs in front of the courthouse. How demoralizing. New Yorkers will wind up avoiding downtown like the plague. Who could blame us?
Can New Yorkers even fathom the never-ending stream of media that will be generated by this trial? Twenty-four-hour news cycles, Internet traffic, social sites, citizen journalists, Twitter — even the simple traffic and subway reports you’ll hear on NY1 will all reference the new “green zone.” All of them weighing in on every detail, day in and day out. The trial and our city unfolding for the world to see, like one big fishbowl. A more recent research study, again by Cambridge University, found that “a constant burst of digital news about terrible occurrences is overloading our brains.” Our brains may actually explode if the KSM trial happens here.
Now, one can argue that New Yorkers are tough and not afraid to fight for what they believe in. But living on top of each other drives our “survival of the fittest” mentality. Haven’t you ever walked into your apartment and realized the jerk you just fought for the last bag of gourmet coffee at Whole Foods could have followed you home and killed you over a cup of Joe? You think to yourself, Holy crap, I was crazy for acting that way! And then you check yourself, take a deep breath and promise yourself you’ll never do it again. So again I ask: Do we really need another trigger inching us closer to the edge? New Yorkers can only be pushed so far before some of us crack.
Stefanie Schappert is a freelance journalist based in New York. Credits include NY1 News, Fox News Channel, and Vaccinated TV. She has worn many hats inside the newsroom: producing, writing and editing. She also has been out in the field covering stories behind the camera as well as producing and reporting. Schappert’s conservative viewpoint came into sharp focus following the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the resulting political climate. While working on the acclaimed NY1 documentary 9/11: A Day In Time, Schappert quickly embraced her role as the wife of a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier (Green Beret) deployed to the Middle East. This former NFL Cheerleader and classically trained dancer is known to hang out with quite a liberal crowd and has been the buzzkill during many a dinner party. Lipstick Conservative does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.