We’re tired of the pandemic. We’re tired of the political unrest. And we’re really tired of the riots. But, back up, let’s get rid of the riots. Are we still unhappy? Yes.
NBC News really scraped the bottom of the barrel with this news story…as if people didn’t already know that a poll would show we’re unhappy.
Why wouldn’t we be?
We’ve got Joe Biden as a presidential candidate and a pandemic keeping us socially distanced from everyone and everything that we love.
But, hey, let’s play along. The survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, says that only 14% of American adults classify themselves as “very happy” – and that’s down from3 1 percent in 2018.
In 2018, the same survey showed that 23% of American adults felt sometimes isolated. That percentage is now 50%. Not exactly news, right? Actually, it’s surprising that the percentage isn’t higher considering that most Americans have literally been isolated at some point during the pandemic. For most of the month of April, we were told to stay inside unless we were a frontline employee.
What is interesting about the survey, which was conducted in late May before the death of George Floyd (and, as a result, before the rioting), is that it is based on nearly 50 years of data research from the General Social Survey. Every other year since 1972, they look at American attitudes and behaviors. Since 1972, no less than 29% of Americans have identified themselves as “very happy.” So, when the number dropped to 14%, it became newsworthy.
But, is it? Since 1972, there hasn’t been a pandemic that has swept across the globe, infecting millions, and killing hundreds of thousands. And, even though some of the world is opening back up and going back to the way things were, that’s not the way that it is in the U.S. Even the places that are opening aren’t normal. Restaurants were only at 25 to 50% capacity at the end of May. Masks are still being strongly encouraged. Social distancing stickers are still in every store. It’s hard to be happy.
And it’s not just the pandemic, either. People have lost their jobs. Schooling children has had to be done at home. Socializing is done on Zoom instead of at a bar.
The poll actually helped to shed some light on the mess that is 2020. People are less optimistic about the standard of living improving.
Surveys conducted following the assassination of JFK and the attacks of 9/11 show many people having emotional and psychological stress reactions. There were reports of crying, smoking, and feeling dazed. There are fewer of those reports. Now, there are more people saying that they’ve lost their temper or wanting to get drunk. That is likely back to feeling as though they are isolated.
The survey has highlighted what we’ve all known: 2020 is not a good year. It’s affected our mental health because it’s not just one event. It’s a constant struggle because the pandemic still lingers. It brings with it a significant amount of unrest because of fear of going out into the public and fear of what’s to come next.
More people are feeling lonely now than the surveys in 2018 – and that, again, comes back to the isolation.
There is a silver lining in the poll. Most Americans are assessing their families’ finances the same as they were in 2018. Their ability to get along financially is as high as its been since 1972, so there’s that.
If the study had been conducted a month later, it could have painted a hugely different picture – perhaps with more loneliness, more isolation, and even more pain. With the political unrest added to the equation and the rioting in the streets, it leaves people with more stress and more questions. What will the General Election in November bring to the country if the polls are already showing a general consensus of unhappiness?