Bit boring, all of this. Call me up when we're doing the altered states of the nation

No. 194 - State of the Obvious

What are we skinning? The results of the latest 'State of the Nation' survey, commissioned by the President of the Republic and executed by head statistician in charge, Vincent Marmara'.

Why are we skinning it? Because its findings are both revealing and depressingly predictable.

How so? The broad strokes of it all amount to: the older are more conservative and the younger more progressive; religion is in decline but we remain a country of wishy-washy believers; family remains king at all levels of society... and the rich are far happier with their lot than lower-income earners of pretty much any strata.

Did we really need a survey to prove all that? I guess not, but the allure of empirical evidence is the ultimate aphrodisiac for Western societies, of which Malta nominally is one.

But surely there must have been *some* curious findings among the lot. There are some notable -- albeit depressing -- trends: such as a steady decline in the perception of quality of life for those not among the highest economic echelons.

Could it have something to do with the same issues that thousands were marching against in Valletta last Saturday? Possibly, as of course the rich would be deaf to those complaints as they sip Prosecco while taking in unspoilt countryside views from their hill-perched villas, which surrounding area would be inaccessible to the rest of us by 'Keep Out' and 'Privat' signs.

Good thing that 'the family' is still deemed worthy of celebration, I guess? Family could go either way. The families enjoying excellent quality of life are probably determined to ensure they remain the only ones capable of doing so.

And if this is a State of the Nation, how come so many of the respondents identified as primarily European? Partly aspirational, partly escapist, one would imagine.

Then again, what is even the point of these surveys anyway? To find out what we're really made of, would be the ostensible reason.

That sounds like something a mad scientist would concoct. Or it could be a marker of deep-seated insecurity, and/or a desperate search for measurable validation.

What 'state' would you say you're in right now, then? A state impervious to analysis from surveys, one would imagine.

Our President will be disappointed to hear that, I'm sure. The multi-faceted nuances of the human experience were always the arch-enemies of the political class.

Keep It Simple, Stupid. Keep it simple, stay stupid.

Do say: "While it may be interesting to find out where the Maltese psyche is at right now, it's also worth noting that such surveys end up delivering a reductive picture of the nation, based on rigid empirical assumptions that run the risk of missing the wood for the trees."

Don't say: "Bit boring, all of this. Call me up when we're doing the altered states of the nation."