⇗ America’s Best Decade, According to Data

The good old days when America was “great” aren’t the 1950s. They’re whatever decade you were 11, your parents knew the correct answer to any question, and you’d never heard of war crimes tribunals, microplastics or improvised explosive devices. Or when you were 15 and athletes and musicians still played hard and hadn’t sold out.

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine around 2016 about this, and he artfully explained this theory to me at the time. It was an aha moment for me, as I tend to view each new decade as "the best one" because of how the world has advanced over my lifetime. Your view on this appears to depend quite a bit on the degree to which the news you read enriches or poisons your psyche, but also the happiness and agency you feel over your own life as you've grown from a child into an adult. For some, this arrow points up, for others, it points down, but I bet the biggest increase in the last decade or so is those for whom the arrow points up but feels like it points down. Outrage and fear-fueled information platforms are partially to blame, but so is the very American culture of determining your own happiness by comparing yourself to your neighbors or peers.

I had the good fortune to attend the excellent Pearl Jam concert at Climate Pledge Arena last week, and it reminded me of something I already knew: I liked music in the 1990s more because I had the excitable mind of a teenager, and being 30 feet away from them brought me back to the very best of those times... but you couldn't pay me enough to go back in time to any decade.

There is no time like the present! 🙌

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