Outrage culture is exhausting.

A lot of people don’t seem to be happy unless they’re mad right now, and the media-political complex is more than happy to oblige. I should’ve known when I celebrated the lack of socio-political discord on Facebook a few weeks ago that I was jinxing it – and that it was only a matter of time until the algorithms contrived new ways to piss people off. 

People are angry about the Barbie movie, for f—k’s sake. Seriously. Barbie?!?!

Not that anyone’s really changing their behaviors over it or anything. Those people weren’t going to see Barbie in theaters anyway. They just talk a big game.

I’ve seen it in our data for years. We would ask people questions like “How likely would you be to cancel your Netflix subscription if they raised their prices?” Thirty-plus percent of people would say “Definitely.” No, you won’t. And you didn’t. You’re lazy. And you’d rather complain about it.  

Or, like Jason Aldean in that outrage-festering song he released two months ago. “Try that in a small town,” he says, and he’ll supposedly punch you or whatever. Come on dude. You didn’t even write that song. Plus, you grew up in Macon, Georgia (pop. 155,000) and live in Nashville. But kudos for landing your first chart-topper in years. Outrage wins again.

Meanwhile, it’s heartbreaking how transgender people have been victimized at the altar of outrage culture. Did you ever wonder why such a relatively small group of people has become such a lightning rod, as if there are armies of them forming ranks outside rural America, just waiting to attack? There’s actually a simple explanation. The smaller the population, the less likely you are to know someone from that group – or to empathize with them – and the easier it is to make them a boogeyman. So sad.       

Or, how, even after asking hundreds of my friends on social media, I’ve never met a single parent whose kid was taught critical race theory in their public school. Not one. Although, I did hear things like; “No, but I have a friend who knows someone in Vermont who said they do.” 

Right. Then it must be true. 

People would rather be outraged about something than learn about it. It makes me want to pull out my impeccable hair.  

So, count me in the club. I’m outraged over the outrage. 

Here’s what we’re seeing:

In entirely related news, our collective emotional and mental well-being has taken a hit over the past month. After rising steadily for several months, our vaunted (and extremely predictive) Well-Being Index had its first significant drop in over a year. Reports of fear and sadness, in particular, climbed appreciably. Driving the downturn were primarily people in the Midwest, Gen Z, and Hispanics. I’ll tell you why and what it means for business if you pay for it.

Back-to-school being around the corner could be making people sad (it’s not). Americans have gotten an early jump on BTS shopping, particularly parents of kids who are struggling in at least one school subject. Sixty-nine percent of those parents have completed at least some of their shopping, compared to 56% of other parents. Inflation definitely seems to be hitting parents of school-age children more than those without – as they report significantly more reduced spending across most retail categories, compared to last year. That helps to explain why we saw them flock to the big retailer discount events this month. 

A lot of people don’t care if aspartame causes cancer. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we examined the 60% of Americans who consume aspartame (via diet soft drinks, etc.) and their reaction to the news from the WHO that it’s a carcinogen. One-third of those consumers say they don’t plan to reduce their consumption. Ok then. We also looked at how nearly half of U.S. adults report the weather being hotter than usual where they live and how people feel there is much less pressure to be married today than there used to be.

Gen Z absolutely loves “Christmas in July” and I feel really old. I didn’t even know this was such a big thing, beyond maybe a car dealership sales gimmick or something. Apparently there are all kinds of retail sales and TV programming around the concept – and it works. People who buy into the whole Christmas in July fad, are way more likely to have already started their holiday shopping. And it’s a super big hit with young adults. I don’t even want to think about Christmas right now. 

Inflation is causing people to take worse care of their pets. The deluge of pandemic puppies (we’re a statistic in the Dick household) left millions of Americans with new pets. Now, all of those new pet owners are facing the harsh reality of the costs of their fur babies. Nearly 1 in 4 pet owners haven’t taken their four-legged companions to the vet in the last year and financial burden appears to be the primary reason. As a result, enrollment in pet insurance (and intent) is up YoY. And nearly half of people think it should be offered as an employment benefit. 

More awesomeness from the InsightStore™ this week:

The most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: No, but plenty of other things do; Only if they’re wearing Baltimore Ravens merch; Yes, but I can’t tell you; Drive, definitely; College…so 90s.

Hoping you’re well.


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