It took a global media agency network of 9,300 people (at last count) across 86 countries to survey and collect data that indicates American consumers are feeling increasingly isolated, cut-off and "worried," "stressed," "anxious," "frustrated," "scared," "sad," and "overwhelmed."
I am sure all of this gets somehow factored into better media buys for its clients, but otherwise it is an astounding glimpse into the obvious now that we are a month into essentially national self-quarantining. But perhaps we can break down each sentiment and find new meanings.
Worried – I find worrying to be a perpetual part of adulthood. If you are aren’t worried about COVID-19, the nose-diving economy and if the grocery store will EVER have toilet paper again, you can fall back on things like your retirement income, your kid’s grades, weeds in the garden and if NBCU is REALLY going to cut back on its ad load.
Stressed – There are lots of management books that contend stress is a net positive because it keeps you diligent and focused on what needs most to get done next. Of course, it becomes a whole new thing when you see that COVID-19 is killing folks your age and not just sniping off seniors one by one. So, you have the added stress of wondering if your local hospital has enough ventilators and if that woman who sneezed at the grocery store went to a live church service last Sunday.
Anxious – I’m not
sure there’s a clear distinction between worried and anxious, but they are the dynamic duo of parenting. The good news is there are lots of anti-anxiety drugs to take the edge off (forget asking
your GP for something to ease your “worry.”) Am I supposed to be worried or anxious that the virus came from Europe and not China? That the Chinese are lying their ass off
about the real impact of COVID-19 on that country?
Frustrated – is not a real word. No one ever says I am “frustrated” about this or that. Instead they are “pissed” “hacked off” or “madder than a hornet.” If your spouse sits you down because she wants to talk about her “frustrations,” you are in some deep shit, and I assure you the conversation will not end well.
Scared – There are so many things to be scared of today, from your local hospital running out of ICU beds to your kid saying he feels “hot.” On a global scale, we can be scared about the total breakdown of society, with gunfights breaking out at gas stations and grocery stores.
On a more local basis, you have to factor in the ability of your family to get through the next 30-60 days without violent confrontations (or excommunications). That scares me more than the death rate creeping closer and closer, state by state.
Sad – Although I cannot speak for the families who have suffered direct losses due to COVID-19, I can say that to me the saddest part of this whole crisis is the lack of leadership and accurate information coming out of Washington. This should be about saving lives, not TV or Facebook ratings. Not that the incompetence is much of a surprise, but the magnitude of it keeps me in a persistent state of sadness.
Overwhelmed – You have a choice to make. You can yield to this bullshit and let it crush your world (24/7 TV will do that to you), or you can rise to the occasion and be a comfort to others and contribute whatever you can to helping our medical heroes survive this. When you are feeling really sad and are climbing the walls, think about the doctors and nurses who are toe to toe with the pandemic.
No one knows how all of this will play out in the next few months. But it won’t be any easier if you let it get the best of you.