Americans are crankier than ever.
A recent Gallup poll found Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going has fallen to just 11 percent. That’s the second lowest number recorded in the poll’s 30 years.
According to Gallup, America has been growing increasingly dissatisfied since 2004, when national satisfaction slipped below 50 percent, it went below 40 percent in 2005 and 30 percent in 2009.
Americans used to be able to find refuge during the dark times and escape life’s troubles for short periods of time. Church events, theater, radio, movies, family outings, television, sporting events or just sitting out on the front porch and watching the world go by, were all geared toward what we once called “entertainment” to get your mind off the real world events.
Taking the place of those escapes from real world events, we now have a constant barrage of “reality” TV shows.
Times, attitudes, expectations, goals, aspirations and temperament all seem to be moving toward the extreme these days. We’re not just dissatisfied with how things are going, we’re downright frustrated. As frustration grows, people begin to take action. And those actions are showing up in every news story you come across.
It’s one thing for drunken sports fans to shout obscenities at opposing players, but when fans beat another fan and shots get fired at an NFL event, it’s gone way over the line. It’s one thing to discover a person on death row for the last 17 years is innocent, but another for the prosecutor to make the man admit killing three young boys so he can be pardoned and set free. It’s one thing for political adversaries to disagree, and it’s something else when a longtime elected official calls citizens “terrorists” and another tells a political party to “Go to Hell.” It’s one thing for a disgruntled student to get back at a school by phoning in a prank bomb threat, and it’s something very different to gather enough explosive material to detonate the material on the opening day of school. And these were just some headlines from last week.
Dan Alexander is publisher and owner of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.