On Thursday, October 26th, U.S. Bank unveiled their annual Possibility Index pulling economic data from four major pillars in American society: work, home, play, and conversation. This report is compiled in order to represent “all of the different possibilities in our lives”. By collecting data from all over the country, the Possibility Index can show us an accurate depiction of “how people are doing and how people talk about their work, home and play lives.” Aside from social interactions, this report also takes into account how people represent their lives online to separate how people actually feel and how they present themselves to the world.
After looking at all of the data for each of these pillars in society, the bank then assigns an overall grade to represent how the nation feels as a whole. “We created the Possibility Index to better understand the factors impacting our customers’ financial lives,” said chief analytics officer at U.S Bank, Bill Hoffman, in a press release, adding “whether it’s a frustrated commuter with her sights set on a house closer to the office or a family starting to budget for next year’s spring break trip, there’s an opportunity for us to support.”
So in one of the most chaotic times in American history, how do we as a nation rate our everyday lives and prospects for the future? After polling all of the major regions of the country, U.S. Bank gave us a score of 49 out of 100 overall. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this report is how that overall score was determined. Here is a breakdown of how each of the pillars scored individually:
This breakdown shows us that, on average, most people in the U.S. are not optimistic about their professional and personal lives, but project an inflated image through their online presences. Scott Barry Kaufman, professor of Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, author and spokesperson for the Index, explained these results in the same press release. “The high conversation score can be interpreted in a couple of ways: it may signal a bit of puffery in how we present ourselves on social media or, perhaps, it speaks to Americans’ optimistic spirit,” he explained, adding “in either case, in today’s increasingly digital age, it’s important that we don’t judge ourselves based on the Instagram feeds of others. Improving our collective Index score starts with each one of us taking action to improve our lives.”
So the next time you see one of your friends post one of those Instagrams with “#blessed” written as the caption, just know that things most likely are not as perfect as they seem.