My friend John Schwartz, an author and a reporter with the New York Times, has a fun essay out that explores how best to make lots of money: through inspiring fear, anger, or love/happiness/kittens?
The essay begins with John recounting a morning run driven by terror, in the form of an iPhone app called "Zombies, Run!" The best-selling app inserts a kind of zombie radio play into your music playlist. "This War-of-the-Worlds-meets-Richard-Simmons broadcast is enhanced with the sounds of ever-closer shambling, grunting zombies," says John, "It certainly added a spring to my step."
Read: Here Come The Zombies, But Not the Cash.
Naomi Alderman, who created the zombies app, said she was aiming at the “lizard brain,” the supposed part of our brain held over from our early evolution that motivates us with fear and a sense of impending danger. “Your brain wants you constantly to be afraid,” she said, “which is why we seek out horrible news stories about terrible things happening.”
That might be especially true today, she said, in our more comfortable lives. “If you live in the West,” she said, “you’re likely to live in peace and comfort and die of opulence-related diseases rather than anything your lizard brain is afraid of, like being hit over the head.” Lizard brain is hungry!
That’s why her program works, she suggested. “It’s fun to be scared of zombies,” she explained. “The back of the brain is yelling ‘Run, run, run!’ and the front of the brain is laughing.”
(illustration: Glynis Sweeny for the New York Times)