The proliferation of readily produced images and content may have created a sort of perceptual divide among people who see their friends as thriving while they struggle. Of course much of this is a mirage, as much of the content published on social media belies the fact that our lives may not be as exciting as we attempt to portray them.
Obama’s presidency promised to restore hope to America. But as yet that is a check that has not been honored. People are limping back into a job market that is substantially weaker than before the recession, and they feel that they have lost so much ground that even a job at their previous wage would hardly suffice to help them catch up. Many have lost their homes, their professions and even their identities amidst a gig economy that offers little and promises nothing. While these trends have also affected older (65 years and higher) and younger Americans (35 years and younger), it has particularly hit those who cannot delay major life responsibilities, and those who have already fulfilled their major roles as breadwinners and parents.
The rise in despair signaled by the skyrocketing suicides is certainly a symptom of the dashed hopes of many Americans. They can no longer see any light at the end of the tunnel, and for a people who are constantly told that they are the masters of their own destinies, the disconnection between aspiration and reality has been extremely depressing. Also, as America has emerged from a great depression with no sense of national purpose. There are no great building projects that employee masses of people and distract them from their problems. Many are left to limp along, suffering alone, not critically injured, but not healed either.