I Didn't Say That: Gen Z for President

Child mortality and the end(?) of "cancel culture."

Something New:

I'm trying something new. This is that something. It's called I Didn’t Say That.

I Didn’t Say That will be a short daily list of notable stories I find while mining the news Monday through Friday. As I've mentioned before, my day job involves spending many hours each day scouring a long list of newsletters and news sites for clear signs of progress. And I find quite a bit of it. But I also find many stories that are more ambiguous. Stories that strike me as interesting and important but that are not necessarily signs of progress or progress at all, or that are not necessarily new or news. Whenever this happens, I bookmark the stories and go back to them later.

Often, these end up being some of my favorite stories from the day. And since not everyone has a bunch of hours to spend reading the news each day, it seemed to me that telling you about the more notable pieces that I come across, along with a few notes about why I think they're important, might prove useful.

So here we are. I Didn’t Say That. If you hate this and all of its guts please tell me. But if you love it you have to tell me that too. Those are the rules.


Today’s First Notable Thing:

Max Roser at Our World in Data published some pretty incredible data last week on child mortality. It begins grim because it is grim. Roser writes that 5.4 million children die before their fifth birthday every year, which equates to 10 dead children every minute.

It’s such a regular occurrence that it’s not often news. And because it’s not often news, many of us don’t realize how bad the situation is. And because we don’t realize how bad the situation is, learning about it can give the whole deal an insurmountable air.

However:

It is … important to know that all countries—even today’s very worst off—have already achieved progress:

– The line chart below shows that the rate of child deaths has fallen in all world regions.

– The world map shows this history in even more detail.



Improvements in nutrition, access to vaccines, sanitation, healthcare and midwives, better housing and increasing prosperity, better education (especially of mothers) and many other positive developments have all made a difference in reducing the mortality rate of children.

Both visualizations make two points clear: the world has made a lot of progress, yet child mortality is still unacceptably common today.

As I’ve written before, it is true that all three statements are true at the same time: The world is much better, the world is awful, the world can be much better.


Today’s Second Notable Thing:

Zaid Jilani wrote a piece for Persuasion that made me feel great optimism for Gen Z and the future in general. In the piece, Jilani examines data from a Morning Consult poll and looks at Gen Z’s views on “cancel culture.” To my surprise (and delight), the poll shows that Gen Z is more opposed to cancel culture than all of the other generations polled.

The firm Morning Consult polled a range of Americans about their views on cancel culture, looking at different generational cohorts: Generation Z (Americans born in the years 1997 through 2008), millennials (1981 through 1996), Generation X (1965 through 1980), and the baby boomers (1946 through 1964). Of course, polls should not be treated as definitive on their own, as they are imperfect snapshots in time, and opinions can certainly change.

Nevertheless, this new data is a hopeful indication that cancel culture may have peaked. Overall, cancel culture is quite unpopular among all cohorts, with each generation viewing it more negatively than positively. Millennials appeared to be most supportive of cancel culture: 19 percent said they had a positive view of it, while 22 percent were neutral, 36 percent were opposed to it, and 22 percent said they had no opinion.

Perhaps surprisingly, given its progressive leanings and similar social and political beliefs to the millennial generation, Gen Z was the cohort most opposed to cancel culture: 55 percent said they had a negative view of cancel culture, 8 percent were supportive of it, 18 percent were neutral, and 19 percent had no opinion. Moreover, it’s the youngest cohort within Gen Z—currently ages 13 to 16—who are most opposed to cancel culture, with 59 percent having a negative view of it. That number falls to 48 percent for the oldest cohort within Gen Z—ages 21 through 24.

I’ve never thought this to be a left–right divide, even though it often gets framed that way. But if you had asked me before I saw this poll, I probably would have guessed Gen Z to be far more supportive of cancel culture. I’m happy to be wrong.

I think the subtitle of Jilani’s piece says it best: “Young Americans may return us to a culture of compassion and forgiveness.“


What Do You Think?

What do you think about I Didn’t Say That? Do you hate its guts or love them? Reply to let me know.


Notes:


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