Speaking to FNA, Scott said he believes Americans’ extreme levels of stress during COVID-19 lockdown is caused by their consumerist mindset entrapped into the “working to live” mentality.
Keith Scott is the co-founder and president of TALLsmall Productions, a social relations consultancy firm in Baltimore, Maryland.
Below you may find the full text of the interview:
Q: Many Americans seem to have lost life’s balance during coronavirus outbreak. Despite the pandemic, instead of staying home, they would rather go to work. Why are they facing such an imbalance in life and work?
A: Generations ago, more Americans were able to find a far healthier work/life balance. Over the decades we have watched salaries climb at a far lower rate than the cost of goods and services, as a result entrapping people into the working to live mentality. Once upon a time ago, working class families had more cash to take vacations and have downtime. With the low wages, many people have to take on multiple jobs to survive.
About 70% of the US economy centers around consumer goods and services and the same consumer goods and services are barely attainable to the masses. It creates a mindset of parents being willing to do anything to get their kids or themselves the big screen TV or other gadget that they cannot quite afford. In chasing the money and trying to squeeze as much work into each day, family life has taken a toll.
During COVID-19, there are families that have realized all that they were missing with family time. Unfortunately, only those with comfortable incomes have been able to profit by this extra time. Instead the extra time is a source of stress for low income families who are struggling to find ways to pay for the necessities and help their kids through the "at home school day."
Q: People were seen in long lines of chain stores, over-buying and stocking goods. Is this the “new normal” for people of the “strongest economy”?
A: Consumerism and a want for a sense of control result in the over-buying. The economy is built on a premise learned at a young age to compete for everything - to survive at all costs. This includes the mindset that your family's survival comes first. Over buying is a release of a drug in the minds of a society addicted to consumerism.
With COVID-19, life feels out of control. We are all at risk. Stocking up on goods gives people a quick burst of a feeling of control. This is not a new normal, but a normal that has been long in the making.
Q: A recent survey shows mental health of women, Hispanic adults and African-Americans are affected the most by the pandemic, and the anti-Asian sentiment is growing. What does it reveal about the social relations in the US?
A: Those who are not deemed "American" or white Europeans have always had a difficult time in America. They are always impacted by economic downturns and prejudice. Anti-Asian sentiment has been here for over a century because of jealousy and feeling threatened. When you live in a world where there already is discrimination and frequent racist and sexist undertones, the ugliness only becomes magnified when those who feel entitled to power feel threatened.