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I Don't Like Spiders

But I damn well respect them. I understand their usefulness and their importance in the circle of life and all of that. It’s possible I’m saying all of this mainly to assuage to ire of any spiders that happen to be reading this, but it’s also because I have to admit they are remarkable creatures…that just happen to be terrifying in appearance.

I can deal if need be. When living out west I kind of had to get myself alright with them because they were a reality. They were in my bed sometimes. I could collapse into a catatonic ball every time one surfaced or I could just usher it on its way and move on with my life. I developed an understanding with them. But I still don’t like them and I will avoid having to deal with them if I can.

What is it about spiders that cause weird little convulsions of horror in the back of my head? In most cases they ARE genuinely more afraid of ME then I am of them and they’ll even try to hide (and this is part of why they freak me out but I’ll get to that).

A lot of research says it’s a learned fear. That would make sense. My Mom freaks out at spiders and I probably saw it at an impressionable age. In reality very few are dangerous. There’s about 12 species out of tens of thousands of known species of spider that are harmful to humans. That’s like 0.1%. But notice how I said all “known species”? Scientists believe there are tens of thousands more species that have yet to be discovered. More than likely they’re hanging out in the rainforest. So it’s entirely possible that Shelob or the (completely bullshit, thank Christ) version of the camel spider, that chases you while screaming, then paralyzes you so it can eat you while you’re still conscious, COULD in fact be a reality. Somewhere. 

Then there are studies which seem to suggest that, while we may have to learn to fear them, our brains are hardwired to notice snakes and spiders. So why do we notice them so readily? Maybe because they look so...not right? I’m completely alright with snakes. I like them even. They’re neat. But they’re pretty much the only land dwelling animal with no arms or legs and yet still gets around just fine. There’s something inherently wrong about that on some selfish humans-think-everything-should-be-like-them level, isn’t there? 

Well let’s look at spiders in this context. There’s evidence that we are hardwired to fear certain characteristics in spiders such as their angular legs and unpredictability. Unpredictability could apply to snakes as well, no? Maybe there's something there, although I think it's less the angularity of the legs than the fact that there eight of them. Six legs I can deal with. I can even deal with hundreds of legs (but I know people who are just not right with centipedes). Eight legs is a deal breaker for some reason. But how about a spider’s face? For me, this is where all rational thought goes out the window. Snakes have two eyes and a mouth. So do dogs and cats and every other animal we love, including us. Six legged insects (and centipedes) also have only two eyes. We understand two eyes. “Two eyes” is comfortable. "Eight eyes" is not. And why did we jump all the way to eight? How many three eyed or four or five eyed creatures can you think of off the top of your head? While I have no study to cite, I’m pretty sure we’re hardwired to fear anything with a face full of eight lifeless black orbs. Lets not even mention the fact that they don’t have a head. Just an array of eight eyes and mandibles stuck in the front of a body.

Which brings me to a realization that we haven’t had a really memorable movie alien creature design since probably the Predator and-- OH MY GOD, have you seen the face of a crab spider!? I saw it once, for about as long as it took my eye lids to slam shut and my head to whip in the other direction preventing myself from a life of wishing I could unsee it. It would make the most horrific alien ever. Hollywood Creature Creators have a whole host of Mother Nature’s finest abominations to choose from. Just look at spider faces.

The last thing that always makes me weary of spiders relates to that thing I mentioned earlier about their tendency to hide. Hiding from something much larger than you demonstrates intelligence. You watch any other insect, they just kind of bumble along, not really varying their speed or movement when you persue them. Spiders will very quickly try to hide from you and wait you out. They can be VERY fast and VERY unpredictable when they need to be. They have very calculated and dare I say, thoughtful movements. I get the feeling that they’re trying to figure me out. And I don’t like anything that looks like terror itself trying to figure me out.

Just a general note, if you’re writing an article about fear of spiders, it’s really not necessary to put a big fat picture of the nastiest looking spider you can find right at the top of the article, therefore preventing anyone for whom the article may benefit, from reading the article.

Also, YouTube? Your spotlight on the Amazing Spider-Man this past weekend? I don’t think I saw one clip that was actually about Spider-Man. Instead I saw a horrifying close-up of a tarantula face accompanying a clip about how far spiders can jump and a big picture of a Goliath Tarantula for a clip of same, and another about the “World’s Biggest Spider” with a nice big picture of said twisted horror. I just wanted to relax and watch kitten videos. What did I ever do to you? I was going to put a screen grab of the now gone YouTube home page right here but that would mean it would have to be on my computer as well as on this site and then I’d have to look at it and I’d rather not have that. That’s why there are no pictures of spiders here. Instead, kittens in a cup:

Courtesy of