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Poll Shows Americans More Unhappy Than Ever

Marion Charatan

Posted on June 16, 2020 12:27

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Multiple polls say we are not happy. Respondents cite concerns about the health pandemic, economy, lack of individuals' rights and mistrust of politicians as major sources of distress.

The adage "misery loves company" resonates more and more lately. I speak with diverse people, from friends to acquaintances, store clerks, customer service reps by phone and an occasional random stranger when I'm taking a walk (masked up and socially distant, of course). Everyone seems unraveled. And it doesn't matter if they're single or married, young or old.

Let's start with friends. Fortunately, I keep up with people, primarily through Zoom, email, text and phone calls. Seeing folks in person is a treat and uncommon for me right now. Certainly, I'd rather socialize in person, but it's better to sacrifice in the short term for long term benefit. Health experts state that human contact increases the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. And I believe them.

It's tough to always maintain proper social distancing. I can't count how many times I've been out and see people not standing on designated floor marks or walking "on top" of someone they pass; not allowing them the recommended 6-foot distance. How do I handle this? I'm alert and quickly put space between myself and the perpetrator.

I have a couple of friends (I will not mention the names of the guilty) who refuse to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and never wear masks, even in public spaces where they'll have shoulder-to-shoulder contact with others. Mistake? I am sure it is. Have I talked to them? You bet, but it falls on deaf ears. So, I've made a conscious choice not to see them for now.

It is not easy to make decisions like this but the right choices are often the hardest ones to make. I'd rather stay safe and be around to see my family. 

A COVID Response Tracking Study based at the University of Chicago, funded by the National Science Foundations, concluded that only 14% of American adults said they're very happy now: that number was 31% in 2018 — a significant disparity. In the same survey in 2018, 23% claimed they sometimes or often felt isolated, but now that number has jumped to 50% of respondents.

The poll was completed in late May of 2020, following the COVID-19 outbreak. It was published before the terrible death of George Floyd, which resulted in worldwide protests and sparked conversations about police brutality and race. 

In 2019, a study from the Pew Institute pointed to the reasons respondents were unhappy — from the economy to concerns about how individual rights hold up in their countries, to mistrust of politicians. 

There are no easy answers on how to 'fix' things. Introducing new social and economic policies along with a much-anticipated vaccination will help. For now, I practice patience and try to retain a glimmer of hope that things can get better. Changes are long overdue: the unrest around the world highlights this.

I didn't care for the catchphrase "We are in this together," but you know what, we really are.

Marion Charatan

Posted on June 16, 2020 12:27

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