The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 January 2006

The world is treating me bad

A University of Chicago survey suggests that Americans are suffering greater misery: 91.5 percent of us suffered at least one "negative life event" during 2004, up 2.4 percent from a previous survey in 1991, and the average number of NLEs was a whopping 4.3, up from 3.8.

The NLEs are on a scale from 1 to 100: the worst is the death of a child, which scores 94.3. The least-miserable event reported in the article is feeling ill enough to seek medical treatment, which scores 51.6. This sounds rather high, and suggests that the scale can't possibly be linear — how can two trips to the doctor (103.2) be worse than losing a child? — but it does suggest that there is plenty of room on the scale for minor inconveniences. For example:

  • $300 gas bill: 18.5
  • Toilet runs all day: 7.7
  • Finding a beer can in your yard: 6.4
  • It's a light beer: 9.6
  • The phone rings at the office: 8.2
  • It's two minutes after opening: 12.3
  • It's two minutes before closing: 16.4
  • Your Congressman has been taking money from Jack Abramoff: 4.5
  • He's going to keep it because there was nothing wrong with it: 6.6
  • He's going to give it back and thereby expiate his guilt: 11.8
  • Your bandwidth bill goes up as your RSS feed is picked up by 1500 a day: 2.1
  • 1440 of them are spam blogs: 20.7
  • Your basketball team is displaced by a natural disaster: 11.5
  • They make twice as much money in their temporary home: 46.8
  • Your girlfriend wants to see one of those chick flicks: 9.7
  • It's Brokeback Mountain: 13.5
  • You dream about your ex: 3.8
  • You enjoyed it: 9.4
  • You discover someone has already done a better version of this: 10.6

(Original survey found via such small hands.)

Posted at 11:22 AM to Listing to One Side