Where’s the Quicksand?

Claire Arneson, Editor

When I was a child, I was terrified of the most bizarre things. Growing up, I like many other kids had fears that were so far-fetched that looking back, I think is hilarious. At the time, however, these fears were life or death. I am not talking about fears like needles, taking tests, or legitimate anxiety-inducing fears. I am, of course, talking about quicksand, the dark, and even your own basement. Quicksand was something I thought I was going to encounter on an everyday basis as a child. I needed a night light until I was 17, and I still have a salt lamp but it is different, okay. To this day, I still run up my basement stairs after turning off the lights. Looking back, I wonder what made me so scared of all of these things. 


If you grew up like me in the age of television and movies, you probably saw a lot of quicksand. It was in everything from “Dora the Explorer” to episodes of “Batman.” Quicksand became a popular movie trend in the 60’s and 70’s. According to Daniel Enber, a “quicksand enthusiast” who writes for Slate, quicksand made a cameo in 3% of all movies made in 1960. Quicksand quickly became more popular as a metaphor. People were using it to describe being “stuck” or dealing with anxiety, but most of our generation and older did research on how to escape quicksand in the off chance we would encounter it.  


The dark was a common fear to have back when we were children, and it is still common today. USA Today says that 3 of 4 kids from ages 3-12 years old are afraid of the dark. Even adults are afraid of the dark, and the pandemic has only worsened these fears. According to Healthline, we can be afraid of the dark for a variety of reasons. Being afraid of the dark often starts in childhood and is viewed as a normal part of development. Studies focused on this phobia have shown that humans often fear the dark for its lack of visual stimuli. In other words, people may fear night and darkness because they cannot see what is around them” (Marcin & Legg 2017). If you are anything like me, watching scary movies before going to bed could also make you lose some sleep.  


Lastly, why do we sprint up the stairs from our dark basement? As stated, we are afraid of the dark for a variety of reasons, mainly because we cannot see our environment, but why the basement? I blame my fear on American Horror Story’s Season One: Murder House, but basements also have very few exits and can be cramped causing claustrophobia. Filmmakers portray the basement as barely used, according to Sarala Vanga from House of Horrors. For instance, sometimes the lights do not work, so the protagonist needs a flashlight. Other times cobwebs coat the walls, and the stairs creek on the way down. The basement, is when you are most vulnerable when your only exit is the stairs or a poorly placed window.   


I am now 20 years old, and I still have not encountered quicksand. I could not tell you if I was relieved or a little disappointed, but my younger self would be astonished. Although I still have everyday fears like failing a test or getting hit by a car on University Ave, it is fun to look back at what you were afraid of. If you ever feel like a fear you have had is silly, you can bet someone else has had that fear too.  

 Claire Arneson is a Dakota Student Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].