Tuesday, December 18, 2018

3 Wall St. Journal Articles Validate Our "Age of Anxiety" Prediction

Back in Nov. 2018, we blogged about a new prediction: "Age of Anxiety to Continue into 2019." 

The factors leading to the Age of Anxiety include:
  1. What can seem like a continuous cycle of breaking news. Each hour we got another notification on our phones about another piece of news. The notifications can feel like they're hitting so often that we don't have time to process what happened an hour ago, leaving us feeling unsettled.
  2. The continued proliferation of fake news, by which we mean disinformation -- intentionally false news spread deliberately (not merely news that one politician or another disagrees with) -- is succeeding in creating an atmosphere of distrust of news, politicians, institutions and each other.
  3. The spread of misinformation -- wrong or incorrect information that is spread but not necessarily with the intent to deceive -- on social media is polarizing and causes distrust, which leads to anxiety. Social media also spreads anger as people inside one bubble get increasingly angry at people in another bubble.
  4. Uncertainty about the economy, the future of healthcare (including key features people like: keeping kids on parents' policies until age 26 and coverage for people with pre-existing conditions), etc. leave people anxious.
There are other factors but for this blog, the key point we also made in that prediction is:
Consumers are looking for less stress, and we expect articles about unplugging and de-stressing. We also expect that companies that can position their products or services as helping to reduce stress, will see those messages resonate with consumers (even if that approach is not necessarily newsworthy on its own, i.e., it might not generate media coverage even as that approach could be effective). 
We are advising our clients to look at how they can help reduce stress and anxiety through their products and services. 

Meanwhile, here are three Wall St. Journal articles that appeared yesterday and today that validate our prediction:
  1. Inner Peace Is a Booming Business though the columnist adds a cynical perspective: "Voices calling you to ‘find your escape’ are likely seeking a buck like everyone else." We think cynical plays won't work but the headline affirms our prediction.
  2. The Battle to Control Your Mindfulness: A pair of apps preach relaxation to millions of customers -- but the competition between them is anything but Zen.
  3. The Benefits (and Risks) of the Mental-Health Day. More workplaces are allowing time off for employees facing stress, anxiety or depression, but not all bosses are understanding of their workers’ needs.
Mindfulness has been getting increasing play over the past few years, and we expect that to continue in 2019.
Please note: we realize that by pointing out that we're living in the Age of Anxiety, we're not necessarily making people less anxious. But we think it is important to understand the moods and trends. 

Please also note: When we say "validated," we don't mean that the Wall St. Journal saw our prediction and said, "Yes, those folks at Birnbach Communications are correct." We mean that we made the prediction, and then the Wall St. Journal wrote about articles that touched on a particular trend, proving we were right in making our prediction.

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