The Status Quo

How would you rate your overall satisfaction
with life on this planet?

So people are happy.

At least the mainly 18-60 year olds from all over the world who answered our survey (Argentina being wildly overrepresented). They feel happy or they feel neutral. Neutral meaning this face:

The face of Shrigley’s Ridiculous Swan Thing, which we adopted as Poster Inflatable Being when the COVID crisis began and soon became the avatar for raffohouse. For the purpose of this survey, neutral will then be closer to not knowing, or not knowing what to answer, or maybe not feeling anything at all.

In any case, we could say that people1 don’t feel particularly bad about living on this planet2. They say they are happy, or very happy, or mostly OK. Except for one minor detail:

Most of us agree that things are getting worse.

And we’re all happy? We didn’t expect that particular combination.

We weren’t really thinking when we asked the old question, we needed something more or less general to end the survey and it came more like a reflex, like a familiar song, because it’s the question we ask ourselves all the time3. But we expected either/or.

Either

We’re worried or angry that things are getting worse.

Or.

We’re happy that things are getting better, so much better, all the time.

Or maybe, in a display of maturity that we secretly wished for, a more reasonable disparity:

We know things are slowly getting better because that’s what we learned from History, but we are still worried or depressed about specific problems that we’d never solve unless we can get worried or depressed about them.

None of that. The people have spoken: it’s gonna get worse, and they are all satisfied with that. Or maybe they’re not and they lied. Or maybe they’re just confused? Is that possible? In the words of Humanity Consultant Martín Wilson:

“I deeply believe or suspect that people aren’t honest even in anonymous surveys, because they are not honest with themselves. Denial.”

Well, it’s either that, or people actually think that everything is getting worse and they’re OK with it.

Let’s see how that would be possible.

Human, it turns out

is the fuel of most things good or bad for us, humans that we are, by a margin so large that leaves every other factor deeply shocked, wondering why they even bother with our species.

Animals were the only other element that significantly contributes to our collective happiness, and weather was cited mainly for its negative connotations. No suprises here but hold on, this information may be useful later.

As for mineral, it’s the fringey category where we made friends:

Mountains. High mountains covered in snow at the top, deserted and cold, with not a soul around. Quick mountain rivers with cold and clean water. Deep dark oceans, on the bottom of which you can disappear forever. Just thinking that they exist on the same planet as I lifts my mood up.

That was Nia (18-24, Ukraine), whose humbling response is better than anything we could have expected. We will contact Nia to see if we can do something together.

A few respondents claimed to dislike the mineral world, although most of them meant pollution, like Iris Speroni and Martín Kraut, who may or may not be the same Martín Kraut who spent a glorious summer with us in Brazil, enjoying the mineral goods back when we were all very very young.

Yes, we digress4, sorry, going back to the elements: the mineral effect was mostly deemed a positive factor for our overall satisfaction with the planet. Some wonderful reasons were given.

  • Planet is mostly made of minerals. Without it, we’d float into space. That would not be satisfactory.
    —Anonymous, 25-34, Czech Republic
  • Estoy obsesionada con el agua.
    —Marilina Delvalle, 35-44, Argentina
  • Sentido south-southwest.
    —Anonymous, Flan
  • Mineral Lifestyle Hair Spa Paddington
    —Malena Loizaga, 35-44, UK
  • No respira.
    —Rmnmayra, 25-34, Chile


What would you say is better now, in the 21st Century?

And the winner is Technology, how could it not be. Since we didn’t ask for details, this can mean anything from smartphones to gene splicing or the great modern artificial pancreas. Since we are prejudiced, we will assume it’s smartphones. Or social media, or maybe even streaming, which seems to be a big hit even among relatively older respondents of our admittedly biased survey. Science, travel and food complete the gently dystopian panorama, also featuring a 21.51% improvement of sex for —we can only assume— the 21.51% who think that less is more. Our younger analyst suggests, from experience, that younger respondents confused sex with hype about diversity and social acceptance of sexuality. That sentence is depressing. What else got better?

I don’t know if this slots into the social interaction category so I just kind of Placed it under “Other,” but things are SO much better for literally,,, Any Minority in the USA than it was in the 20th century! Now people have to call me slurs BEHIND my back instead of saying it to my face.
—Remi Gjemre, 13-17, USA

Remi also thinks that everything is better now compared to the previous century, which may or may not explain why his overall rate of satisfaction is zero. Because we are considerate and now we know what he (or she) likes, further comments will be in private, behind his (or her) back.

We also have the Miguelito from Mafalda Award to the most brilliantly self-centered answer:

  • Now I am alive. That was not true for the most part of the 20th Century
    —Francisco, 36-44, Argentina

And a handful of perplexing answers from witty to autocorrected:

  • Uno puede ser tarado integrado y completamente funcional.
    —Anonymous, 45-54, Argentina
  • Ninguno (mejoró). Vivimos en tiempos extra extraordinarios
    —The Ghost of Tom Joad, 35-44, UK
  • El rol de la mujer en la soledad
    —Ramiro Mendez Casariego, 25-34, Argentina
  • BETTER: borderline everything
    WORSE: by borderline i meant not gardening
    —bigsafariman, 18-24, UK

Here’s a list of other things that some people think have improved in the 21st Century:

  • Medicine, better birth control
  • Life expectancy, pollution, access to information.
  • Average life time Average education level Women’s right Illness cure (sic)
  • Cooperación
  • Education in general. Nutrition.
  • Quality of life.
  • Human Rights (Mexico)
  • Time optimization.
  • Economic progress, education, health, also PS5 about to come out.
  • Economy. (USA) (Really?)
  • Social norms.
  • Vaccines.
  • Density of armed conflict.
  • Cosmogony.
  • Less violence so far.
  • Less hunger
  • International relations.
  • Diversity.
  • Fashion.
  • Sports.
  • Communication.
  • Nothing.
  • Everything.

Of course we also received a few contributions from the truly dim, which interestingly enough were all anonymous, as if they knew themselves (or us) well enough:

  • BETTER: Race
    WORSE: obsessed with people; race
    —Santa, 25-34
  • BETTER: The legal and social sanctions against discrimination and prejudice revolving around race, sexual orientation, and gender.
    WORSE: The drastically unfair and growing skew in the distribution of wealth and increasingly obscene income inequality
    —Anonymous, 18-24, USA
  • BETTER: Social change, like acceptance of LGBTQ+ peoples, less racism and sexism
    —Anonymous, 25-34, Germany
  • BETTER: Political progress/inclusivity/diversity/it’s actually legal for me to be myself now in parts of the western world. Probably also other stuff
    WORSE: economic inequality got worse. the rise of fascism (which, admittedly, was also pretty bad in parts of the 20th century, but not in, like, the latter half). probably also other stuff.
    —Anonymous, 18-24, Austria


Oh well. What else got worse?

Social interaction and Culture are the clear winners in this department, although (again) this could mean whatever you want it to mean, depending on your social/ideological inclinations. Add Art to the mix and it’s hard to argue against it. The majority of custom answers for what’s gotten worse are repeats of Climate Change/Environment followed by Politics.

The traditional views of the left were represented in several responses like this one:

  • WORSE: Capitalism and consumer culture are monsters. Wealth inequality is ever growing. All living things are suffering.
    —Beep Boop Lettuce, 25-34, USA

And the very traditional views of the right were also prominently featured:

  • WORSE: Degradation of our moral values
    —Anonymous, 35-44, Argentina

But in between, as always, there was a richer harvest:

  • WORSE: Todo lo que te imagines
    —mentira@mevanaspammearhastaporelorto.com, 35-44, Argentina
  • WORSE: I find it hard to decide, because I don’t really pay attention to this stuff, usually. But I want to pay more attention to it.
    —Zoë Klamer, 18-24, Netherlands
  • WORSE: Manejo del tiempo
    —Anonymous, 45-54, Argentina
  • WORSE: En la parte social, en las relaciones con las demás personas, en la violencia que se observa cada día en las calles.
    —Mariano, 25-34, Argentina
  • WORSE: Una creciente apatía e indiferencia hacia el otro
    —Anonymous, 18-24, Argentina
  • WORSE: the world was a better place without twitter, ngl
    —Anonymous, 13-17, USA
  • WORSE: Pensamiento
    —Sara, 45-54, Spain
  • WORSE: Yo, por ejemplo.
    —Anonymous, 25-34, Argentina
  • WORSE: Anti-Intellectualism is on the rise and wilful ignorance is more prevalent and prolific than ever. In the age of the internet, people are getting stupider than ever, even though they have the unlimited information of the internet at their disposal.
    —Anonymous, 18-24, UK
  • WORSE: La gente interpretando factores hace que los factores sean peores todos.
    —Lu GM, 35-44, Argentina
  • WORSE: Our connection to nature and our bodies has been is quite severed today. I think both have contributed to a rise in anxiety.
    —Anonymous, 25-34, USA

Finally, our favorite:

  • WORSE: Freedom.
    —Nia, 18-24, Ukraine

We don’t know Nia but we love her, she never lets you down.


1 These people, we are aware that our sample is less than universal.

2 The category names, courtesy of Zonka Feedback, are clearly trying too hard, but even disregarding their crazy enthusiasm, the results are unequivocal. An earlier sample, from close friends and the usual Twitter people, was darker, but as soon as the numbers approached a decent sample, we got the moderate plateau that remained stable for the duration of the survey.

3 We cannot recall a time in which we didn’t ask ourselves this question. There must have been one, but it was too long ago. As for the particular phrasing, it can be found in this record by Laurie Anderson, and it’s been a common catchphrase at home and among friends since an earlier Laurie Anderson show, in which she told the following story:

"You know I did an interview with John Cage and I spent some time with him and I noticed that he seemed to be such a happy guy. I mean he was eighty years old and he was always smiling. Now a lot of old people are in pretty bad moods by that point but he wasn’t and I was supposed to be asking him about music and information theories but what I really wanted to know was whether he thought things were getting better or worse, because this was something that was really just on my mind.

But it seemed like such a stupid question that I was afraid to ask. So I talked around it for a while, sort of building up to it, and I was saying things like “Well according to theories of evolution, if there was a race between a modern horse and a prehistoric horse the modern horse would win because it’s faster more efficient it has adapted and are we like that too? And then on the other hand, according to Richard Dawkins, there are some problems with this. For example, it would have been a great thing if fire-breathing animals had evolved. I mean this would have been a very convenient thing just – wwwff! cook your food on the spot. And then asbestos coated nostrils could have evolved so the nose wouldn’t get singed and so on… but the fire-breathers never evolved and why didn’t they since…”

Finally Cage said, “Exactly what are you trying to say?” And I said “Arethingsgettingbetteroraretheygettingworse?” And he stopped only for a moment and said, “Oh better. Much better. I’m sure of that. It’s just that we can’t see it. It’s just that change happens so slowly."”

4 But maybe it’s time we mention why we did this. The survey. We don’t usually do surveys. We wouldn’t usually be tempted by a methodical, pseudo-scientific exploration of the emotional and cultural state of things, mainly because it’s not that hard to tell that things are pretty fucked and they have been for some time now, who needs a survey for that. We did this survey to double check, we did it because whatever it is that we are going to do next, we’ll need more than just intuition to get through it. But most of all, we made this survey because we are bored. We are bored of you. Of course not you you, but you know, the vast majority, those who constantly replicate the daily trend of how are we gonna manage to prune any individuality sprout who dares to be stupid enough to exist. We made this survey to find interesting people, people with a personality where most of us wear ideology. Maybe that IS you you. We don’t expect many. We’ll be fine with four or five. If you are one of those, congratulations, you found this page. Feel free to contact us below.

Who's Driving?

Positive and negative influencers on a global scale, according to our 1000+ respondents. Also: what happens to Public vs. Private once everyone forgot their meaning.

Here, read it

Movies, Music and The Good Stuff

You should read the other one first. That previous one, with the chart. Or you can go straight to this if you are a rebel. But then you can't complain about us being obscure. Actually, you know what?

Do whatever you want