This is our last day here at EconomyBeat, where we focused on user-generated content related to the economic downturn and other aspects of the nation’s financial life.
What is not ending, however, are the effects of The Great Recession — which we tried to capture by going directly to the source. The country may, as macroeconomic statistics indicate, be experiencing an economic recovery, but just when the bulk of people will feel “recovered,” that is an open question.
I believe it is the psychic effects that will linger longest. As I join the ranks of the unemployed, whom I so assiduously chronicled these last nine months, I have to admit I do not feel mentally prepared. (Even though, unlike millions of others who have found themselves looking for work, I always knew just when this job would end.) Because while dipping into the multitude of blogs that expressed the anxiety of having been laid off or in debt or without work for so long was a little depressing, I also experienced, I must confess, an element of subconscious relief that at least it wasn’t me.
Now, like all those unemployed bloggers out there, I too must cope with the emotional questions that accompany uncertainty about the future. Did we save enough money? How much is pre-school for our toddler going to cost? What about health insurance?
Certainly, these are circumstances that are not as desperate as those experienced by many who have been hammered by the globe-rattling events of the last few years. But that never helps the feelings. It’s been a rough decade since the end of what is often called The American Century: September 11, two stock market crashes, Afghanistan, Iraq, Katrina, a global financial meltdown, and a vicious recession, all occurring amidst a polarized political process that at best seems to be treading water and at worst feels totally incapable of dealing with the severity of mounting systemic failure. Both as a relatively new father and as a citizen, I rarely have a moment these days when that gnawing worry isn’t just below the surface. What next? I think. What next?
Sometimes it helps to remember that recent American generations have had to deal with worse — world wars, Vietnam, a genuine economic depression, and the omnipresent threat of nuclear annihilation.
And sometimes it doesn’t.
I am optimistic about one thing, at least: the power of the Internet to connect people who are in otherwise extremely isolating circumstances. As I have learned on this job, whether it’s through personal blogs, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, or Twitter feeds, it’s never been easier — or more rewarding — to communicate with those you’ve never met and find out what they’re thinking, feeling, and just… how they are.
In the long run, this can only be a good thing.
Thanks PRX and thanks CPB for the opportunity to work on a highly satisfying and extremely interesting project.
Good luck everyone. See ya on the Web!