Coulrophobia. The Webster dictionary defines it as an extreme fear of clowns. Which means that living in America right now has to seem like a waking nightmare for some people with all the recent clown sightings being reported.
It all started August 29th, 2016 when residents of the Fleetwood Manor Apartments in Greenville County, South Carolina, reported seeing a person wearing a clown costume lurking around the apartment trying to convince children to come into the woods. A few days later on September 4th police in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, received a call about another incident of a clown trying to lure children into the woods. That seemed to spark a trend that infected the nation.
Throughout September there were a slew of incidents. Children reported being chased while walking to their bus stop by men in clown costumes. A middle school girl in Georgia was placed under arrest for bringing a knife to school for protection against clowns. A threatening Facebook post from the account “Ain’t Clownin Around” threatening to “kidnap students or kill teachers going to their cars.” And that’s just 3 of the 13 reported incidents in September.
Is it all a hoax?
The New York Times reports that false reports of “creepy clown” sightings have led to 12 arrests in 10 states. So yes, some of these sightings are a hoax but many aren’t, and there’s proof.
A menacing looking clown, who was later dubbed as “gags” was photographed while terrifying people in Wisconsin. A Kentucky man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for wearing a clown costume in a public place. And two women in Michigan were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for chasing two 14 year olds while dressed as scary clowns. So yes, many of these sightings are definitely real and it’s becoming mainstream.
In early October Stephen King, the man that popularized the image of the scary clown with his movie “It” took to social media to ask people to “cool the clown hysteria”.
Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria–most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 3, 2016
So why are the clown sightings frightening people?
Most experts believe that most creepy clown incidents are copycats conducted by pranksters that enjoy scaring people. However, whether it’s a prank or not doesn’t mean that it isn’t still creepy.
With Halloween quickly approaching, and creepy clown sightings being reported all the way in the United Kingdom and Australia now, the trend shows no signs of slowing down. I think at this point we’re all starting to realize that we are all a little bit coulrophobic.