Ever feel like those people laughing are laughing at you? That when your co-worker smiles at you they are secretly thinking about stealing your job? That the stranger on the subway is really thinking, what are you wearing? Don't worry, as hard as that might be, apparently lots of people are paranoid.
'Paranoia' was generally thought to be a part of a major mental illness. In a study with 200 British people 40% exhibited paranoid thoughts in a simulated subway situation. So don't get too concerned if you exhibit a few thoughts that the person in the next room is laughing at you, it's kind of normal.
Is it a sign of the times? With terrorism and war on peoples minds are they constantly thinking what will happen next? Once while waiting to pick friends up from the airport I was joking about a bomb and it occurred to me, what if they are taping me? What if I can't get on an airplane in a week? I laughed it off, but with the invasion of privacy that the government has taken on it can create that paranoid feeling that someone is always watching you.
So yes, people are more paranoid now, but if political leaders at large peeled away some of their paranoid anxieties I wonder if the every day person riding the subway might see someone smiling and just think, that's nice.