business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, MNB took note of a Washington Post report that the General Social Survey, described as “one of the longest-running and most highly regarded public opinion research projects in the nation,” has just completed a survey saying that America is becoming less happy.

According to the story, “On a scale of 1 to 3, where 1 represents ‘not too happy’ and 3 means ‘very happy,’ Americans on average give themselves a 2.18 - a hair above ‘pretty happy.’ That’s a significant decline from the nation’s peak happiness, as measured by the survey, of the early 1990s. The change is driven by the number of people who say they’re not too happy: 13 percent in 2018 vs. 8 percent in 1990. That’s a more than 50 percent increase.”

I commented, in part:

I found a bunch of stuff in this survey to be interesting; even though the downward tilt is slight, it seems to make sense because economic well-being and health are so connected to how happy people are. Not surprisingly, people who are well-off financially and relatively healthy remain as happy as one would expect them to be. (Money may not buy happiness, in my experience, but it doesn’t hurt.) But there seem to be more people in the country - or at least in this survey - who are economically challenged and/or facing health issues, and that affects their happiness, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

One MNB reader responded:

“Ignorance is bliss.”  I will over-simplify this into the fact that technology and social media were not what they are today.  In 1990, we didn’t know as much about what we were “missing.”  We heard about bad news in our town, city, or state, but not the entire world…at least not 24 hours/day.  We could discuss politics, not argue about them (except for Uncle Ed and my dad...).  If I had a tough day, home was a safe haven for at least a night.  Tough to get away from it now…whatever “it” is…

I’m 51 years old…I like my iPhone to make calls from anywhere it’s convenient.  I like Google Maps because a ¼ mile heads up on where to turn is a godsend.  Texting is helpful to get a quick response from my AWOL teenagers…I love to play my music at the gym…outside of that, I’m not a huge fan.

The teens of today are being wired significantly different due to the attachment to the phones.  I kept my over-extended 16-year-old daughter home Saturday night just to “take a breath.”  She was inundated with Instagram messages and IMs from friends, “Where are you?”, “We’re having so much fun at…”, “Can you go out later?”  I had to hear about it for the better part of the evening.   I should have taken her phone away (so she didn’t get hit with all that), but that’s a whole other battle…Sigh…

Rural or city, black or white…it has changed everything, everywhere…Lots of good stuff, but plenty of challenges…

And, from another reader:

Not sure how to make other people happy. But I will say surrounding myself with less negativity such as politics, negative people. Not easy by any stretch, and our society seems to always point out the hurtful, negative, and lots of things are taken out of context. I read and make up my own mind without the biases of talking heads. Just watch the news, if it is controversial it leads. It really seems we want other people to fail, so we feel better about ourselves. That is a sad commentary on us. Remember we are not born negative, it is an acquired trait. This is a very simplistic way to look at it I know, but it is a start. Plus I am blessed with a wife that grounds me, always looks at the glass half full.
KC's View: