The Only Way To Be Happy
How the Great Awokening has played a cruel trick on gen Z.
I haven’t had time to read another chapter of She Deserves Better this week because…well, I imagine you can fill in a whole range of reasons I wouldn’t have time to sit down with a book. One of the reasons, though, is that I couldn’t stop scrolling yesterday, watching the conversation about the shooting in Nashville ebb and flow like a tide across Twitter. And in all the scrolling, I did come across this long piece about the relative happiness of conservatives versus liberals. It starts this way:
In a recent essay for Social Science & Medicine–Mental Health, epidemiologist Catherine Gimbrone and coauthors identified a significant gap in depressive attitudes between liberal and conservative teens. This gap was present in all years observed in the study (2005–18). It grew significantly starting in 2012, however, as depressive affect unilaterally spiked among liberals. Three years later, conservatives also began reporting increases in depression—although that rise tapered off relatively quickly while the increases among liberals continued. Liberal girls tended to be significantly more depressed than boys, particularly after 2011. However, ideological differences swamped gender differences. Indeed, liberal boys were significantly more likely to report depression than conservatives of either gender. The authors also found that the more educated a teen’s family was, the more likely the young people were to be depressed, and the more dramatic their rise in depression was after 2012.
The author meticulously analyzes (at least from my perspective as a non-math person) the data and works through various interpretive pitfalls. Is it that conservatives are “happier” because they have more stable marriages and tend to be more religious? Well, one can’t say for sure. Is it an economic issue? Why do conservative women tend to be more “attractive” than liberal women? (I can’t believe that’s one of the things people are thinking about.) And what happened at the beginning of the Great Awokening in 2012? Hasn’t the whole point of the last decade been about happiness? Isn’t becoming “woke” all about flourishing? Why, then, the sudden rise in misery?
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