As the Halloween season comes and goes, it becomes progressively more vital to be on guard for a fright at any moment. The act of startling someone by jumping at them suddenly and making a loud noise ― colloquially known as “jump scaring” ― is somewhat of a Halloween tradition, much like an Easter egg hunt or Thanksgiving feast. No other holiday tradition, however, is quite so mean-spirited, insensitive and ultimately pointless as the jump scare.
Of course, jump scaring is harmless to most people, and those who jump scare rarely have malicious intentions. It’s meant as a sort of painless prank. However, jump scaring isn’t always as innocuous as it may seem.
Not everyone wants to be jump scared. This is so blatantly obvious that it should really go without saying, yet no one seems to take this into account when deciding whether or not to jump scare random people on the street or the internet.
Some argue that jump scares are harmless and, therefore, no one has a right to protest them. However, this notion is laughable. Touching a stranger’s neck or back also seems physically harmless, yet it’s not acceptable. It has an emotional impact on that person: it makes most people uncomfortable. Jump scares, meanwhile, are designed to make people uncomfortable, yet they’re considered perfectly acceptable just because they don’t usually involve physical contact.
Others claim that, if one is startled or scared, it’s that person’s fault for being a wimp, but that’s an illogical and downright cruel mindset to have. After all, jump scares are specifically designed to startle people, so of course they’re going to startle people. Blaming someone for being scared after jump scaring them is the Halloween equivalent of punching someone in the face and blaming them for bleeding.
Most importantly, though, a huge amount of people have actual mental disorders that make them susceptible to panic attacks, hyperventilation, and other negative health effects if jump scared. According to PTSD.gov, about 7.8 percent of people in the USA experience PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Meanwhile, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 18.1 percent of all American adults experience some sort of anxiety disorder. Assuming that there’s no overlap in these numbers, that would mean that there’s a 25.9 percent chance that any person on the street could have a severe negative reaction to being jump scared.
Is the brief moment of glee that comes with successfully scaring someone really worth those odds?
At the end of the day, jump scaring is completely pointless. Nothing is to be gained. Sure, it feels good to get the jump on someone, but just being fun isn’t enough to justify risking the health of others. Halloween may be a time for sweets and scares, but perhaps it would be prudent to exercise some restraint in this time of excess.