Picking fights with political zealots on Facebook is one of my guilty pleasures.
Yeah, I’m that guy.
I never author political posts of my own, mind you. I’ve told you, nobody likes politics on Facebook. Plus, my real views are nuanced, so I keep them to myself.
Pretty much anyone who posts political content is a zealot – to some degree. Moderates typically keep quiet.
And when zealots anchor their viewpoint to one side of a binary debate (Trump vs. Clinton, Socialism vs. Capitalism, Pro-Gun vs. Anti-Gun), it’s just too easy to flank them from the outside of their politic pole. Dogma is inherently vulnerable.
Huh? Here’s what I mean:
Try telling an unsuspecting pro-gun zealot that machine guns or grenade launchers should be legal, per the 2nd Amendment. Then, watch them use classic anti-gun arguments in response –“Nobody NEEDS a machine gun!” Call them a snowflake just for effect.
Or next time someone posts an anti-AOC meme, “Like” it, then extoll the virtues of pure Capitalism, devoid of any consumer protections or regulations. Paint them a Socialist when they defend the FDA.
I had a blast recently, telling some MAGA folks that Jesus was a Socialist, evidenced by his support of tithing. I quoted chapter and verse. You could almost hear their heads exploding.
Am I accomplishing anything? Probably not. But if I can get even one person to realize the world isn’t binary – that’s a start. You can, in fact, despise Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. You can support a border wall and easier paths to citizenship, simultaneously. It’s true.
The problem is, with so much information (and misinformation) thrust upon us, it’s just easier to think binarily. It allows us to align with larger groups – Us vs. Them – giving us a sense of comfort and belonging.
Here’s a wild theory: What if the media and political establishment encourage binary thinking because it’s easier to compete over two groups – with a sliver of “undecideds” in the middle – than to compete over many. Duopolies are bad for everyone but the duopolies.
The moral high ground today has fallen below sea level. And it’s not just because sea levels are rising. It’s because we only have to be a notch better than “those people” to feel justified.
Here’s hoping we break that cycle.
And here’s what we’re seeing this week:
Consumer confidence improved dramatically, kind of because of the housing market, but really because President Trump isn’t going to prison. If I’ve taught you anything during these intimate Saturday mornings together, it’s that political events dictate economic sentiment, which dictates just about everything else. And here’s proof-point 7,213,198. Our Economic Sentiment Index jumped this time and, to the naked eye, it’s mostly because people feel good about the housing market. In reality, it’s because those newly-happy people are Republicans and Moderates who were afraid the President was in bed with the Russians. But he appears to be exculpated. And the economy is safe for now. And you just Googled the word exculpated.
People don’t like paying with cash anymore but they want the option. This report we published is jam-packed with awesome intel on Americans’ payment preferences. But to save you the trouble: Paying with cash dipped below credit cards (and way below debit cards) in 2018 and it keeps sinking. Mobile payments, by the way, still barely scratch the surface. And if your favorite restaurant went cashless, it probably wouldn’t affect your likelihood of eating there. Still, the vast majority of people would rather not live in a cashless society. I’m with the majority. Tipping would be a pain in the ass.
The majority of Americans take some kind of daily maintenance prescription drug and they tend to be the most economically challenged. Here’s another chewy bit of research we put out this week but I can’t do this one justice in a summary. People are dependent on prescription drugs in America – not that it’s a bad thing for people with high cholesterol and such. The problem is that these drugs are significantly more common among people with lower income…and that’s a real problem as drug prices just keep climbing and climbing. Oh, and 84% of U.S. adults over 65 take at least one daily maintenance drug. Politics aside, this whole thing is a way bigger crisis than immigration or anything else you can think of.
Maybe holistic medicine could make a dent – but they’re not right now. A college friend of mine last weekend gave me a bunch of capsules with turmeric and other spices in them, supposedly to prevent the hangover I was destined for after our fraternity reunion. Based on how I felt Monday, either they didn’t work at all or I’m supposed to be dead right now, I don’t really know. But I do know that the vast majority of Americans – 75% to 17% – still jump to OTC or prescription drugs first, before trying any kind of holistic solution for whatever ails them. You can learn a lot about who that minority is here. Just pass me the Advil.
I guess our analysts were on a big food and drug kick this week because they also studied avocados and Impossible Burgers. I won’t complain. We probably over-study things like Netflix and Uber most weeks – so suck it up for one Saturday if that’s all you care about. I’ll just tell you that 18% of Americans plan to try the Burger King Impossible Whopper and they’re not exactly who you’d think they are. And in other food news, avocado consumption is on the rise BUT our little Gen Z friends might bring that trend to a halt. Get off their lawn, Millennials.
And Here Are A Few of Our Most Popular Questions This Week
My answer is no. To all of them. Except the clothes one. The answer is 24.
Hoping you’re well.