Social Question

Steve_A's avatar

Why do most Americans feel hopeless?

Asked by Steve_A (5120points) February 25th, 2010

Maybe it is just the people I have known or been around.

But for example where I work, there is a guy work with not sure how old he is maybe 30-ish, but I often talk to him about whats going on in the world and what not. One day he goes to me you know your a nice guy and all Steve but why do you even care to bother with it? Just live your life, when you are one of the little guys you can’t make a difference but just try and live your life the best way you and get what you want out of it. In the end the people with the money and big companies will call the shots.

Now he did not say it exactly like that but to sum it up as best I can remember it was something along those lines basically.

but is this the mind set of most people in America?

I guess in some ways he has a point why bother with it at all?

You can read, stay informed, and all but what good is it if you do not stand up or say something about it?

What do you think?

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30 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

I think he is being short sighted. You can make a difference – now more than ever.
You vote with your dollars. Don’t buy from a compay you don’t like and use social media to spread the word.
Now kick that guy in the nuts. Maybe that will get him moving.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t know about most people – I know some people feel insignificant, yes…they are in need of liberation, whatever that may be.

Qingu's avatar

Our social and political culture places a lot of emphasis on “success,” not so much emphasis on being “content with what you have.” We have a very competitive culture.

I’m guilty of this too. I desperately want to be famous author so that I can “make a difference.”

Americans would probably be happier if they learned how to be content with smaller spheres of influence—their immediate friends and family. You don’t have to be able to change the whole world to lead a fulfilling life.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Qingu OTOH, caring only for yourself and your family and nothing thinking bigger is the problem I see everywhere…people don’t think they’re part of what makes it all run…people don’t think they are participating in problematic patterns, people don’t want to hear anything that disrupts their little lives…My mother always gets angry about a lot of my activism…I should only care about my husband and children, she says…that’s my whole point…I tell her I have a bigger point.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Life sucks.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

If you think Americans are hopeless maybe you should chat to some Uzbeks. I know a few and they are not very optimistic about their situations. But most Americans are not in this mindset, throughout our entire history we have glaring examples of 1 person making a difference and affecting millions of others. Sounds like your american friend is just a regular debbie downer.

Qingu's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, I’m tempted to agree with you… but I also think the way we frame this is important.

For example, one of the reasons people are apathetic about voting is “well my vote doesn’t mean anything, it’s just one vote!” Well, yes. One vote, on its own, is not important, and will not decide the election.

Similarly, one person, on their own, rarely will have the power to act as a leader of men and reshape the world. Most people have little power outside of their own social circle.

What I was trying to say was, it’s important to be content with the power you do have—and not despair and “give up hope” because it’s less power than Glenn Beck or J.K. Rowling has.

But I certainly agree that people should use the power they have, stand up for what they think is important among their family and social circle. And, of course, vote. Because, as you say, it’s all part of something bigger, and it’s all connected.

And I have no truck with activists; I probably qualify as one too. :)

Nullo's avatar

They have lost faith, and have no vision. And without a vision, the people perish.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Qingu I think the reason why many people think that their vote in the midst of many many others won’t matter because they’ve never been part of a group that really stands for something, they’ve never experienced just how much can get done when enough people realize something isn’t right – you have to feel and experience that energy at least once to know that it’s real. And of course it is important to be content with what you have – I’d just rather people understand they’re not isolated from others and their actions or whatever they do for this ‘contentment’ may affect others.

@Nullo faith in what?

Blackberry's avatar

This world isn’t a utopia, it’s not hard to find things wrong everywhere you go. There are more places more hopeless than america…...

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Well don’t talk to 30-somethings, they’re the enem… oh the little crystal in my hand is flashing red and black… I wonder what that means…

davidbetterman's avatar

The money power has been driving the hope out of the American citizens since President Kennedy was assassinated in ‘63, and then the Warren Commission issued a 26 volume report which was a pack of lies, including the incredible lie that a magic bullet killed Kennedy. (It was magic because to do what they claimed it did, the bullet had to blow Kennedy’s head apart from the front and to the side…and then hover for three full seconds, turn and strike the Texas Governor sitting in the front seat with enough force to shatter his wrist.)
Then, the powers that be decided to off Martin Luther King Jr, and Bobby Kennedy.
Meanwhile we were busy killing off our best men in a criminally insane war in Viet Nam.
Add to this the corruption in our cities and towns, especially police corruption and outright murder of innocent civilians (see LAPD Rampart Division in the 1980s)

It goes on and on, but the bottom line is that the cost has been the American citizens’ loss of hope.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Is your friend depressed? He certainly sounds like it.

marinelife's avatar

I disagree with the premise of your question. I do not think that most Americans “feel hopeless.” I think that most Americans feel safe and free to live their lives. I think they are busy striving for a better future for themselves and their families.

CMaz's avatar


ucme's avatar

They do?

Jeruba's avatar

One guy does not equal most Americans.

I don’t think I know anyone who feels hopeless. Everyone I know is doing something productive. Knowing you’re doing something difficult does not mean you think it has no value.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I don’t feel hopeless. I think that’s a common misconception that hopelessness permates our society.

SeventhSense's avatar

Well according to a recent poll more Americans feel less hopeful than they did 10 years ago but still most have hope. We’re pretty resilient. Personally on my best days I feel like these are the birth pangs of a better tomorrow…I just wish this labor would end already.

mammal's avatar

you must be the change you expect society to be

overused slogan, sure, but still relevant,
fame or mass attention is an irrelevancy or
by-product of a personal transformation.

neverawake's avatar

Simple: Because they are :)

Sarcasm's avatar

It’s cutesy slang for “Naturally” (Since that’s how the first syllable sounds).
Nullo, there are plenty of ways to have “vision” without your God. You and I both know that.
I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Sarcasm oh, I see..well then it’s weird to see @Nullo use it ,of all people

Qingu's avatar

Faith in God not only gives you hope, it also causes you to condone ethnic cleansing!

SeventhSense's avatar

What are you sending him to? The gallows?

filmfann's avatar

I have a good paying job. The crew I work on has 14 guys on it, and 3 of them have lost their homes in the last year. Yes, confidence in the system is down.

Nullo's avatar

I had posted those as two separate points. :\
@Qingu Dry up already. I’ve explained two or three times that the Canaanites had a horrible culture that was destroyed as punishment.
@Simone_De_Beauvoir I like to experiment with ways of speaking. Sorry for the confusion :D

mattbrowne's avatar

Because there was far above average optimism in America over the past 5 decades compared to the rest of the world. Now the shock is even greater.

I find it amazing that most Europeans are less pessimistic during this time of the Great Recession. An exception perhaps is Greece.

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