Truths & Tensions Of The Modern World: Nature Study Reveals Only 50% Of Aussies Feel Optimistic About The Future

Truths & Tensions Of The Modern World: Nature Study Reveals Only 50% Of Aussies Feel Optimistic About The Future
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Yesterday, in the stunning Quay Room of Sydney’s Museum Of Contemporary Art, Nature unveiled the findings of its latest study, which shows that Australia is divided in its view of the world and where it is heading, with only 50 per cent feeling optimistic about the future.

According to the new research, factors such as social norming, the uncertain economy, and the influence of technology have amplified several seemingly contradictory ‘truths and tensions’ of the modern world.

Younger generations, aged 18 – 29, are sticking to conservative behaviours as a coping mechanism, with 51 per cent worrying about voicing their opinion on polarising topics. In the same vein, an equal proportion agree that society is changing too fast and that ‘we aren’t progressing or heading in the right direction as a society’ (48 per cent).

Key findings include:

  • We care about sustainability, yet the intention-action gap widens.
  • We are health-obsessed yet unhealthier than ever.
  • We’re busier than ever yet bored.
  • We’re more connected than ever, yet lonely.
  • We’re rebellious and individualistic yet regressive and conformist.

“Tensions like these are prevalent in almost all walks of life today as there seem to be paradoxes and emerging signs of polarisation wherever we look. Our research shows that there is a growing conflict between one’s ideal self and real self,” said Nature’s Managing Partner and Founder, Chris Crook.

“As a result, businesses and brands are having to reconcile a perpetual tension created by cultural dynamics that, on one hand, heighten people’s innate self-orientation and risk-aversion, and on the other, bring expectations to conform to a changing set of values and behaviours that act as contemporary codes of a progressive society,” Crook adds.

The study further revealed three key pressure points across people struggling to achieve what they want for themselves and from their day-to-day lives:

  1. Fun is on the chopping block for the majority. Downtime, which is simply rest and relaxation, play time, which includes things like entertainment, travel and their recreational hobbies and interests, aren’t where people want them to be.
    • 42 per cent feel their downtime is only somewhat balanced and 15 per cent feel it is completely out of balance.
    • 41 per cent feel their play time is only somewhat balanced and 21 per cent completely out of balance.
    • 42 per cent feel their hobbies and personal interests are only somewhat balanced and 15 per cent completely out of balance.

“We are developing an unhealthy obsession with our working selves, with “busyness” labelled by many a modern-day epidemic. Coupled with an overwhelm of stimulus and technology, this leads to a state of perpetual fatigue, disengagement with the real world and forgetting the simple joys of what makes us who we are as individuals. What was once termed as FOMO, fear of missing out is becoming JOMO, the joy of missing out for many,” said Nature’s head of strategy, Aliya Hasan.

“Brands have an opportunity to play a significant role here by adding that much-needed spark. Think about leaning into entertainment over interruption, re-ignite play through the power of experiences and human connection and find ways to keep things simple, being acutely aware of the seductive power of technology that can unintendedly overcomplicate and force your brand message into eternal servitude of the algorithms,” Hasan said.

2. Women are feeling the most out of balance when it comes to physical health, only 29 per cent of women rated this aspect of their life as ‘perfectly balanced’. The biggest pressure points for women feeling their physical health as ‘out of balance’ were time pressure (40 per cent agree), financial pressure (31 per cent agree) and self-imposed pressure (24 per cent agree)-feeling it will go against their own beliefs and values and what they think is the ‘right’ way to live.

“Brands speaking to women must be particularly empathetic as it is widely known that women carry greater cognitive load. Supporting the women’s health agenda, both mental and physical as well providing the right motivational spurs and nudges to help women achieve their goals has never been more important,” said Hasan.

3. Younger Australians are feeling the weight of a generation when it comes to sustainable choices. 52 per cent of 18 – 29-year-olds feel pressure from others to make sustainable choices

“Our study in 2022 into sustainability habits revealed that younger generations continue to lead the charge in their positive intent towards sustainable behaviours and purchases. However, this wave of the study has shown that they are finding it harder to deliver on their intentions, not only due financial pressures but are also feeling like they are letting others down,” said Crook.

“Brands will need to invest in R&D and work together to make sustainable products and services affordable and achievable for the mainstream. The onus is well and truly on brands to help consumers achieve the sustainable lifestyles they aspire to,” Hasan said.

Nature’s research was conducted in April 2024 and covered 1,000 people across Australia. The survey was representative of the national population.

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