That's the first line in a just-released global trends report from Ipsos. It's also the first time I ever received a press pitch using the term, but after reading the report, is seems especially apt.
"Each component – political uncertainty, climate change, and war to name just a few – has arguably worsened," the Ipsos analysts write in their year-end report, acknowledging, "the increasing sense of pessimism we felt as we wrote this report."
While the report doesn't explicitly address some other notably rising crises such as mounting antisemitism and shifts toward right-wing extremist autocracy and fascism, it does a pretty good job of capturing the current dystopian zeitgeist as we head into an especially consequential year, especially for the U.S., and arguably, the rest of the world.
And if the most current political polling is any indication, Americans appear to be shifting in that direction, and away from the post-World War II democratic norms, Constitutional values and rule of law. At least for now.
Sometimes as I've been observing this shift, I have the same kind of helpless sensation I've had the few times I've experienced car accidents: like they're happening in slow-motion, but I still can't do anything about it.
My sense is that many other people feel that way too, and that the increasing cynicism of Americans reflects the poly-crises we have been living through in recent years, especially the ones triggered when the twice-impeached former president first took the national political stage.
I've written about a corresponding piece of research conducted by Ipsos political guru Chris Jackson's team three years ago when he was still president, and I think it is part of the root cause for the malaise, burnout and demoralization of American values. The analysis found that under the former president, the U.S. news cycle went berserk.
"That’s his special gift. That’s his super power," Ipsos' Chris Jackson said during an August 2020 briefing in which he released the analysis (see below), noting: "He has this ability to influence the news cycle more than any other President in history."
Apparently, he still has the super power to influence it more than any ex-president in history, too.
And that's a big reason why I think the polling has shifted so much recently. Among other things, it's just about the name recognition and noise stirred up by his increasingly fascistic rhetoric, as well as the pugnacious way he's used the media coverage surrounding his multiple trials and prosecutions.
I mean, there are many other things playing into the exacerbation of people around the world, including Americans, because the world is changing fast -- probably too fast for our human wiring to adapt -- and if you think the news cycle is nuts right now, just watch what happens over the next 12 months.
To paraphrase Bette Davis' famous quip: Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a polycrisis ride.