Missing the Point – The Systemic Discontent Behind All The Anti-Biden Polls

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What you see on the face of the woman in the headline image is angst. She knows something’s wrong. That something is “off,” but isn’t sure what’s bothering her.  What she does know is that she wants it to stop.


“Who said that?”

I did.


I had some extra screen electrons and didn’t want them to go to waste.  Or …  Or I said it to make a point.

“And what point is that?”

Maybe an example would help.  … Travis and Taylor are in love. Their personal and professional lives are wonderful.  She could have made a sometimes unpleasant, but otherwise naturally occurring noise when he introduced her to his parents and it wouldn’t have made any difference.  She would have smiled and said, “Sorry about that,” and no one would have cared.  Joe Biden, on the other hand, were he to do so much as clear his throat in public, would drop another five points in polls about his handling of the multiple crises in the Middle East, none of which are his fault.

Do people really think Joe is doing a bad job?  No, even though that’s what they tell the pollsters.  Political polls are superficial.  Joe’s problem is that things are not going well for a great many of the voters whose support he needs to remain in office.

“The economy’s doing remarkably well.  So, what’s causing all this discontent?”

The economy is a big thing.  Individual people don’t react to “the economy” so much as they do to things that affect them personally.  The way higher interest rates affect the cost of carrying debt on their credit cards, for example, or affect the affordability of a mortgage – or the cost of taking their kids for burgers.

But there’s much, much more to it than inflation…

On a personal note …  I like a toasted poppy seed bagel, lightly buttered, sunny side up over easy egg and orange juice for breakfast.  But this morning, it turns out that I’m out of bagels and English muffins which are my second choice for toasting and I’m out of orange juice.  More importantly, I’m out of time to make anything even if my refrigerator and pantry were fully stocked – which they’re not because neither my wife nor I have had time to go to the grocery store.

Like most Americans, we are busy people.

“Maybe you should get up earlier?”

I do get up earlier.  …Years ago, I had a sign in my office.  It said, “Sleep is for weenies.”  Words to live by, but some of my employees thought it was intimidating, so I took it down.  So no, the problem isn’t about me or anyone else getting too much sleep.

It’s about traffic.  Bad customer support. Returning clothes you bought online – because you didn’t have time to go to a store and touch and try them on, even if they had them in stock which they don’t.  About extraneous stuff we do around the office and at home.  Doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, and packing lunch for the kids are not a big deal in and of themselves, but collectively?  It all adds up.  And then there’s the onslaught of mostly useless and often negative information – on the TV and social media – that distracts, annoys, and disturbs us, twenty-four by seven.  …The political discord is particularly troublesome for those of us who care more about such things than we should.  Politically, disorientation from all the lies is enough to give anyone a headache.

And it’s not so much that we can’t get anything done.  It’s that all this noise and mundane chores are sucking the time away from the social interactions, the fun, the creative things, and quality time with family and friends that make us happy and our lives worth living.

Working at home, if that’s something you can do, reduces interaction – professionally and socially – with your coworkers.  It’s not the same as being there.  The growth of social media may have made a fortune for its creators, but these media lack the essential chemistry that is magic to real-life human interaction.  And they’re immensely time-consuming – at the expense of so many other things we want and need to accomplish.  You’re an adult.  How many hours a day do you spend using social media for personal reasons?  According to recent studies, the answer is an average of two hours and fourteen minutes.  Per day.  Add to that the amount of waking time you waste sitting in traffic, shopping for groceries and incidentals, doing personal hygiene, whatever, there’s hardly any time left to do something interesting, constructive, creative or entertaining.

I know how trite it sounds, but there are only so many hours in the day.  The communications technologies, broadly defined, of the times in which we are living are remarkable by any standard.  But at what expense?

Question for you…  Do you have too much to do?  Is everything taking more time than you think it should?  Do you feel like you’re living in a perpetual state of running from behind?  Is “spare time” no longer a thing?  Do you find yourself spending entirely too much time planning and scheduling events that, more often than not, are never going to happen – at least not the way you envisioned them and that probably weren’t worth the trouble?  Do you have a sense sometimes that you’re not in control of your day?  Or life?

I used to make lists of the things I needed to do “Today,” and then it became “This Week” and now they’re just lists with no particular priority.  Every so often, I delete stuff I’ve done or have decided not to do because I know I’ll never get around to doing them.  A senior executive for whom I worked some time ago only checked his notoriously piled-high inbox once a month.  Once a month!  When he did finally go through it, he would sort its content into thirds.  Items that needed his attention.  Items that had already taken care of themselves, one way or another, and items he couldn’t care less about.  Now…  Now I get it.

All this pressure, this stress on the time we have and don’t have to enjoy our lives, it produces an insidious funk, a malaise that makes us unhappy to an extent we may not even realize.  Many of us, so I theorize, are less happy than we would like to be.  So unhappy that we insist on change, even when it might not be in our best interests.  Even when it won’t solve the problems that are bothering us – and may even make matters worse.  It’s somewhat of a “grass is greener” philosophy of life.  Blame our spouse.  Our bosses at work.  Replace a President who isn’t perfect with one who doesn’t care about anyone except himself and who is arguably and perhaps even dangerously mentally ill.

Sure, we need to kick the likes of Donald Trump and his disciples in the House, Senate, and Governor’s mansions to the curb, politically speaking.  More importantly, we need to stop, take a breath, and work hard to reduce our use of new-age communications in favor of enjoying working, playing, and maybe even hugging now and then the real people in our lives.