I’m not a great singer. No, I’m being too kind: I sing like a frog caught in an electric fence. In fact, when I sing, plants die. Yes, it’s that bad. But somehow, that doesn’t stop me from belting out my favourite Michael Jackson classics when I’m alone in the shower. It’s easy to do whatever feels good to my soul when there’s nobody around to judge me.

Humans have many fears. Fear of heights (acrophobia), fear of death (necrophobia), fear of small spaces (claustrophobia), fear of large spaces (agoraphobia), fear of Friday the 13th (friggatriskaidecaphobia… no, I am not making this up), even fear of fear itself (phobophobia)… we have so many fears that we’ve had to name them, just so we can keep track. 

But there’s one phobia that doesn’t yet have a name, and that’s the fear of judgement. I think I’m going to name it Armageddophobia. Yeah. Somebody get me the Phone number for the Oxford Dictionary’s editor…

So many of us are so terrified of what people would think of us that we hardly ever show our authentic selves when others are around. Like wolves, we have a pack mentality when it comes to social situations. We all want to belong, we want to be accepted as part of the group, “one of the boys” or “one of the girls”. This fear of isolation (autophobia) forces us to express whatever views, thoughts or sentiments that the group holds as the norm, even if we don’t personally hold those views. 

If as a police officer, all your colleagues take bribes, it becomes difficult – even dangerous – to identify yourself as the only one who doesn’t. As a group, they might suspect you of ratting them out, so they will shun you. 

If you belong to a political party which finds itself in power, and all your counterparts are looting the coffers and chopping the money, sharing contracts around and taking more kickbacks than Christiano Ronaldo in the penalty area, it may not be the easiest thing for you to abstain from. Especially if your aim is to be accepted and trusted by your corrupt colleagues.

If you are a supplier, and all your competitors are happy to over-invoice on transactions just to help unscrupulous procurement officers cheat their employers, it may be difficult to stand in abstinence for fear of losing business.

How awkward it must be to identify yourself as the only person in the office who always comes in on time, never sneaks off before closing, always does their job without cutting corners, and never pretends to be too busy to take on extra duties. Your colleagues are bound to judge you for being a busybody and shun your company for making them look bad. 

Yes, our fear of judgement leads us to be less and less of ourselves when others are watching.

My friends, a phobia is defined as an irrational fear, and our newly named Armageddophobia is exactly that. If we know the right thing, but we choose to do the wrong thing just to be polite, that is an irrational act. There may be a cost to doing the right thing.

It may cost you your fellow officer’s friendship, but why do you want to be friends with the wrong people anyway? It may mean you lose some free kickback money, but do you really want to be earning money in a manner that could land you in prison? Running an honest business may cost you some customers, but which is worth more, a couple of crooked customers or a righteous reputation?

If everyone else around you is afraid to do the right thing, just Do It Yourself. We must be the change we desire in society, and nothing worth having comes easy, so if we are tired of corruption, let’s stand against it. 

From today, take a deep breath, shut your eyes, open your mouth and sing in your loud, electrocuted frog voice against dishonesty, bribery, sleaze, fraud and vice. If you sing loud and long enough, you just might be surprised to see who else will join in your tune.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and I’m standing up to face my Armageddophobia. If we face our fear of isolation together, then we are no longer isolated.