Life in general is on the up and up, says
bestselling author and trend spotter Steven Johnson. Why, then, do Americans so often believe they're on a downward spiral?
Blame the media (Politix
included), he says, which tends to focus on the negative, buttressed by folks' cognitive predisposition to find bad news more compelling than good news. They'd be forgiven, says Johnson, for failing to notice that for "high school dropout rates, juvenile crime, drunken driving, traffic deaths, infant mortality, life expectancy, air pollution, divorce, charitable giving, GDP and teen pregnancy" - whew! - the trends are all positive.
"Americans enjoy longer, healthier lives in more stable families and communities than we did 20 years ago," says Johnson. "But these facts are rarely reported or shared via word-of-mouth channels."
Of course, some of these trends only appear positive because of certain other trends arguably less impressive. There are fewer divorces because fewer folks are getting married to begin with, for example