RT....I tend to agree with you and am a bit disillusioned by this seemingly "fear of smiling," myself. Strangely, it is only "happy, smiling people," who even notice this void in the crowd. Unfortunately, your statement about increasing reactions of paranoia, is apparent. Makes one wonder if they should remain perpetually stone-faced, to avoid arrest! I hear you, RT.
As an eternal optimist, I find myself being a little more selective, as to whom I will offer a friendly gesture. Now, that's sad, isn't it? The reality is that "a friendly gesture" is basically emoted by smiling.
The vast majority of adults in 2013, can hardly be scoffed at for developing somewhat of a wall of defense around themselves, or more importantly their children. It is, in fact, a much more frightening world today, than ever before. Or, are we simply "more informed & aware?" In any case, this fact becomes something to consider. Add to this defensiveness, the general pressures of coping with a less-than-pleasant "state of our nation," and it's more understandable that people have grown weary or anxious. Some individuals have the ability to remain positive and "keep smiling" through the tough times, many others, succumb to the monsters who can steal our joy.
My own personal thoughts, as always, continue to be that "It's a tough job, but SOMEBODY has to do it!" LOL To wrap this up, RT....I'll go wayyyyy back to share some stunning lessons learned from my Much-too-wise-for-prime-time, Dad. Whenever our hyper-vigilant Mother would insist we avoid associating with kids she felt were "bad influences," our Dad would say, "Well, what makes you think that our daughters' "good influence" wouldn't inspire the others?"
Keep smiling, RT.....it's bound to catch on!! :)