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The CQ: The Rise of "Kidulting" and Why Americans Became So Mean
Our Must-Reads of the Week, Plus a CQ Reader Survey
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- The Forerunner Team
What We’re Talking About on Slack:
The Atlantic looks at how America got mean. Hate crimes rose in 2020 to their highest level in 12 years, gun sales are surging, every day there seems to be a new story about someone being outlandishly rude or cruel, and never has politics made people so divisive. The Atlantic suggests this is a byproduct of rising sadness (depression, loneliness) and a country’s that’s become increasingly inept at teaching basic morals. “In a healthy society, a web of institutions—families, schools, religious groups, community organizations, and workplaces—helps form people into kind and responsible citizens. We now live in a society that’s terrible at moral formation. Sadness, loneliness, and self-harm turn into bitterness. Social pain is ultimately a response to a sense of rejection. When people feel their identity is unrecognized, the experience registers as an injustice. People who have been treated unjustly lash out and seek ways to humiliate those who they believe have humiliated them.”
There’s an often-cited stat from 2010 that found people’s happiness levels pretty much capped off once they reached a yearly income of a (relatively modest) threshold. But a new study proves more money actually does buy more happiness, at least currently. The Economist looks into this shift and some of the caveats. One catch: “the next dollar a person makes will cheer them slightly less than the last one did.”
Clean energy companies are avoiding the words “climate change” to attract a wide range of consumers, including those who find “climate change” polarizing. Makers of EVs, solar panels, and even electric stoves and heat pumps know people won’t embrace these advancements unless they enhance performance and make financial sense, vs. it primarily being an environmental choice. One example: Polaris (known for four-wheel, off-road vehicles used by hunters and farmers) barely mentions the environment in ads for its new $25K electric car — instead they focus on functionality. The initial production run sold out in two hours. Many consumers could also be feeling apocalypse fatigue (i.e. “the exhaustion of having to make endless moral choices when they don’t seem to make a difference”). Since 2020, there’s been an 8% uptick in those who agree with the statement, “I’m tired of hearing about climate change all the time.”
There’s a new test that might predict if you’ll get Alzheimer’s. It’s not an exact science: the blood test measures amyloid, a type of protein, that suggests an increased risk of the disease — and the makers behind the test (Quest Diagnostics) say it’s 89% accurate at detecting those with elevated levels and 71% accurate at identifying those who do not. Experts wonder if taking the test is worth it, since there’s no treatment that can prevent Alzheimer’s. Dreading that there could be a diagnosis in one’s future is bound to cause years of anxiety, even though there is a chance the disease may never develop.
Gen Z will be the last white-majority generation in the US. Researchers expect that around 2045, non-Hispanic white people will fall below half as the share of the overall US population. “These patterns have led to a ‘racial generation gap,’ in which the younger population – more influenced by immigration in recent decades – is far more diverse than older age groups.” Which means differing views on issues like the supreme court decision on affirmative action and state proposals to limit teaching about race and diversity in public schools are likely to continue.
Welcome to “kidulting”: a trend marked by giant ball pits, diving into pink marshmallows, and pillow-fight rooms — for adults. The Economist looks into how this trend, centered on fun sensory experiences that spark your inner child but are designed for grown-ups, has become all the rage — from Dopamine Land in Madrid and London to Wondr in Amsterdam, and of course the initial Museum of Ice Cream craze. What’s the lure? “Perhaps the shallowness of these places is entirely the point. Negative emotions, including stress, sadness and anger, have reached record highs...when the world feels bleak, the appeal of distraction is stronger.”
Amazon is shuttering many of its in-house brands, eliminating dozens of private-label products in clothing, home and other categories, following slumping sales and antitrust criticisms. The FTC has said that selling these products is in conflict with the other brands that sell on the site. And in 2020, WSJ reported that Amazon used their data on third-party sellers to create their own copycat versions of their bestsellers and then gave their branded products a boost in search results. Apparently, the in-house brands only account for 1% of the company’s total sales.
Burnout has become more widespread. A recent survey from Deloitte found that about half of workers claim they are exhausted or stressed, with 60% saying they’d switch jobs to get improved wellbeing benefits. Potentially contributing to the stress: Americans are taking fewer vacation days, even when they have access to them. In 1980, the percentage of workers taking vacation in any given week was 3.3% — today it has fallen to 1.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fear of job security, having to be “on” while away, or the requirement to bucket vacation time in PTO along with personal and sick days are leading more people to take less time off.
Beauty Matter looks at the beauty, health and wellness predictions for 2023 and beyond include chameleon cosmetics, tech-powered perimenopause, synaesthesia scents, as well as the concept of longevity as a lifestyle (with an inclusion of Tally Health as one of the brands leading the way to optimizing a healthier future). “There is a shift from positioning youth as a driving aspiration to a focus on longevity. Consumers will look to trusted brands to help them feel at ease with the idea of living longer and having more control over the length of their lives.”
Many Boomers are living alone. In 2022, almost 16 million Americans 65 and older lived solo, which is three times as many that were in the 1960s. The number of single-person households headed by people over 75 is projected to surpass 14 million by 2038. One major factor is divorce: Over a third of people who are getting divorced are over the age of 50. But many others are widowed or have never married. For a good portion of these folks, financial stability is an issue, but experts also worry that there are not enough housing options or adequate social services to care for this aging community. And on the other end of the spectrum, Gen Z is struggling to pay rent: about a third live with their parents and more than a third don’t think they’ll ever afford a house.
Marketing Brew covers the rise of marketers turning to user-generated content as a way to craft more authentic product posts than influencers do for less money. Isha Patel, CEO and co-founder of Kale, weighs in.
Curology conducted a poll of 2,000 American teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 22, that revealed the pressures of going back to school in regards to appearance, social media, and filters.
Work at Portfolio Company:
Business Operations, Travel Partners | Fora: Fora is a next-generation travel agency and booking platform which, through training and tools, enables anyone to become a travel agent. This role will build out a direct partnership function with travel providers, creating and managing sales, marketing and operations across travel partners.
Head of Creator Partnerships | Stan: Stan is the Shopify for Content Creators, empowering anyone to make a living working for themselves on the internet. This role will be in charge of building, leading and managing an industry-leading Stan Ambassador Program.
Director of Logistics | Ritual: Ritual is a personal health brand that is building the future of daily essentials. This role will manage the transportation, Third Party Logistics Warehouses, and fulfillment elements of the business, including fulfillment network analyses and design, carrier negotiations, carrier performance and service level agreements.
There are ~508 other openings on our jobs site. Check ‘em out.