let’s go away, blues

(Yeah, I live in St. Louis, and hockey fever is rampant right now. Every time I see an “LGB!” sign I want to change it to “LGBT.” Otherwise I don’t care one way or the other and find it all kind of amusing. I just thought it was a clever-ish pun on the subject at hand:)

The Sad State of Happiness in the United States and the Role of Digital Media

This chart will probably surprise no one:

(I do notice a pretty big additional drop in happiness in 2016. I can think of something that happened in 2016 which affected the happiness of a lot of Americans, but that’s not what this is about.)

This one has some non-surprises and a few big jolts, though.

I (and probably most people) need to prioritize adequate sleep. (It’s supposed to be better for blood sugar, anxiety and other things as well.)

Watching TV news (and radio news) is positively correlated with happiness, even though TV overall is not? As is homework, a little? And people still go to video arcades?

Reading books isn’t on here at all. I wish that surprised me.

The generic “leisure time alone” counts as a phone activity?

But the big one here is that listening to music (marked as a “phone activity” because that’s how kids do it) has the strongest correlation with negative happiness. I’d probably be a lot sadder too, if I had to listen to much current pop music…

But seriously: there are notes about correlation vs. causation in the article. It’s possible that listening to music has the strongest reverse causation, being the thing that’s easiest to do when you’re depressed. The circumstantial evidence pointing toward social media and “screen time” leading to unhappiness really doesn’t seem to apply to music.

Is there anything I can or should do about this as a musician? Am I contributing in some small way, despite everything, to the unhappiness of the human race? Or am I making things a little better for those having a rough time? (To quote A Closed and Common Orbit, “…she taught Jane about something called music, which was a weird bunch of sounds that had no point but made things feel a little better.”)

Okay, it makes things better for me, at least when I keep the right frame of mind… and I am pretty sure that my music isn’t secretly being listened to by millions of 8th and 10th graders. I’ll keep going 🙂

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