In a simple and concise definition from History.com, “In the Roaring Twenties, a surging economy created an era of mass consumerism, as Jazz-Age flappers flouted Prohibition laws and the Harlem Renaissance redefined arts and culture.”
Money. Women. Alcohol. Music. But wait. What does that have to do with COVID-19? And how will this time of prosperity come again?
In order to understand why the 1920’s were so significant for the American public, we have to look at two separate factors. First we must go back to the repercussions of World War 1. The First World War had been good for American business. Factory production had risen sharply to meet the needs of the war. America had been able to capture markets that used to buy from Europe. Once the war was over these countries continued to buy American goods and therefore continued to stimulate the economy.
So of course once the “Great War” and virus was over, people wanted to party!
The second determining factor was the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. So, of course, once the “Great War” and virus was over, people wanted to party! This led to consumerism to become the number one personality trait of all American people. Advertising became huge. People could use credit in order to buy things without literal cash. The Women Movement had a transition into freedom of sexuality with the Flappers, and Gatsby-type parties were abundant. It was the time to be alive.
Again, what does this have to do with COVID-19?
Examination of the graph above shows the clear factors leading to The Roaring Twenties. See any similarities? The current situation, specifically with the onset of 2020, boasts enough of a similarity to invite a similar era of prosperity. Even though World War Three has not happened (yet), recent international disputes have been at an all time high. This tumultuous decade started with President Donald Trump threatening Iran with nuclear weapons on Twitter, of all places. Again, this doesn’t have a huge effect compared to World War 1, but with an approaching election, “More than half of U.S. adults (56%) identify the 2020 presidential election as a significant stressor.” (American Psychological Association) International affairs are causing huge stress but local affairs in America are adding to that.
Before there can be another Roaring Twenties in the 2000s we need the rough international affairs and COVID-19 , in order to bring people together.
And then we arrive at the most obvious and largest factor of stress that will eventually lead to the Roaring Twenties: COVID-19. (I told you we would get to it, didn’t I? 🙂 If you have just woken up from a coma and have no idea what I am talking about here is an article from the World Health Organization that explains it all. Sadly, the COVID-19 situation will most likely equal the onset of Spanish Flu with its infection rate, as many countries were underprepared and don’t have the health care system to deal with such large clusters and outbreaks. As of April 6th there are 337,309 infected, 17,528 recovered, and 9,643 deaths in the United States. Not yet close to the Spanish Flu, of course, but it will reach it by the estimates of scientists worldwide. This virus is hurting so many lives and to take away from its seriousness is never and would never be my intention. Many students at SAS have family back in the United States that are being devastated by this virus. An anonymous student I interviewed said, “This virus is not only ruining my senior year, but, my life and my family’s life….it’s wrong.” I want to give people hope that is so desperately needed. Before the 1920s there was World War 1 and the Spanish Flu. Before there can be another Roaring Twenties in the 2000s we need the rough international affairs and COVID-19.
Don’t lose hope. The necessary factors are staring us in the face and we have every reason to believe that another era of prosperity—another Roaring Twenties—is just around the corner. All we need to do is wait and DONATE to help stop COVID-19. Then, we’ll be throwing a party like Gatsby.
XOXO Gossip Gay ❤