My uncle passed away this week. 

He was drinking his morning coffee and keeled over from a heart attack, we assume. The end seems to have been quick and painless, if sudden. He didn’t wither, which is all that many of us can hope for. 

Garry was one of my mom’s five brothers, a twin. He grew up in the deep red town our cabin is in, before joining the Navy, and eventually settling in Houston, where he built a tight-knit family and a successful construction company.

The most fun-loving of the siblings, he was also the most magnetic – the leader – despite being in the middle, age-wise. He was opinionated, more than a little narcissistic, and both the person everyone wanted to be around and the person you’d never want to be stuck with if you didn’t have your own car. Garry went where Garry wanted to go, whenever he wanted to go there, for as long as he wanted.

And we were very close. 

Much of what I know about poker, pool, golf, fishing, hunting, driving a stick, family, friendship – and a touch of the narcissism – I learned from Garry and my other “druncles.” They were older brothers to me, as much as parent figures, and never treated me like a kid. 

The loss isn’t the tough part. I dealt with the hardest of those when my dad died – and it taught me to find peace and joy in the memories, the time spent. 

This one is different. 

I hadn’t seen Garry in almost five years and barely communicated with him, aside from the occasional birthday or holiday text, for three. It’s Facebook’s fault.

Like many of his vintage and background, Garry had a decidedly right-leaning bent to his politics. With Facebook, he found the perfect venue for his opinionated nature and magnetism. I watched as algorithms (and likely Russian troll farms) and validation from his followers, pushed his views further from the middle. 

I would often engage, if only to play Devil’s Advocate. Never one to suffer non-compliance, he decided one day to unfriend me. I never took that personally. Unfortunately, I’ll never know to what extent Garry did.

I’ve grown desensitized by data. I see so much division, grievance, and gridlock in our research that I feel numb to it.

But I’m not numb. It’s very real. And very sad. ​​​​​​

My friends, let’s keep our differences in perspective. They’ll outlive us if we’re not careful.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

On a lighter note, weed is popular. As of this week, 39% of U.S. adults readily admit to using cannabis, with 15% saying they do it every day (must be nice). Even non-users are cool with it. An all-time high (pun intended), 64% of Americans support legalizing weed for recreational purposes and just 25% of people oppose it. Traditional smoking methods remain the most popular, because those people mustn’t have kids who know what weed smells like, but edibles are gaining fast…even though they’re still not legal in Pennsylvania, damnit. 

Gen Z believes we can turn climate change around. There’s a common perception (and a fair amount of truth) that our youngest adults are dismayed. It’s evident in their economic views, their emotional well-being, and their overall political disillusion. But don’t confuse that for a lack of hope – or a shortage of confidence they have to fix all the messes we’re handing them. Take climate, for example. You may notice in this study that Zs are less likely than older generations to be ‘very concerned’ about climate change. It’s because they’re the most likely to believe it can be fixed, and that it’ll take individual actions to get it done. I’ve said it a million times. Gen Z will save the world. (PS Gen Xers are effing miserable.) 

Netflix’s ad-supported offering is a winner. You don’t need to take my word for it because the company said as much in their earnings report this week. But we can tell you that intent to sign up for the service is holding steady, with a consistent 10% of U.S. adults saying they’re interested in the free tier. Cracking down on password-sharing is definitely going to cause some headwinds, however. That and a lot more about what’s driving people to sign up for Netflix (or not) in this lovely study.

Americans are itching to move. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we found that a full one-third of adults say they plan to relocate in the coming year. I’ll bet the under on that, by a lot, but the fact people are even thinking about it says something about the state of post-COVID remote work culture. The main motive is cost of living, particularly for people in the Northeast and West. Midwesterners are most likely to want warmer weather. We also looked at how young people hack subscription trials and this little factoid: 

Women and men both love Dick’s. As luck would have it, I’ll never be more than the second most popular Dick headquartered in Pittsburgh, thanks to the juggernaut sporting goods retailer west of the city. In our recent study on sports retail and apparel, Dick’s blows all the competition away – with brand popularity nearly double that of the next highest-ranking sports retailer (Cabela’s). Meanwhile, Nike and New Balance lead their category in apparel and sneakers, respectively. The numbers vary quite a bit, however, based on people’s preferred outdoor activities. 

More awesome data from the InsightStore™:

  • Apple’s new savings account offering could be a hit with Gen Z;
  • Natural home cleaning products are gaining traction but Clorox and Lysol still rule;
  • Macy’s shoppers are more likely to splurge on experiences, Nordstrom shoppers on physical products…and more
  • Yoga lovers are twice as likely to wear a smartwatch and four other yogi factoids;
  • 5G usage just keeps climbing and lots more in our latest quarterly Trend Adoption Tracker;
  • Nearly 1 in 4 Americans aged 13-54 use the messaging platform Discord, though they don’t appear to be leaving Twitter for it.

The most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: Usually; No way; Sure; Much lower than most people; Never – I’m on the only path I could’ve ever been on.

Hoping you’re well.