Data Discoveries

Date: 23 June, 2020

Covid-19 Emotion Tracker: How do we really feel – A closer look at the graduating student



Lucy Remitz
Janine McBennett

By Lucy Remitz & Janine McBennett

Strategist & Data and Insight Analyst
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Welcome back to ‘How Do We Really Feel?’, where we dig deep into the nation’s feelings using our self-taught AI mood tracker along with our weekly focus groups.

Summer 2020 will be memorable for many reasons, but for one group, this was meant to be THE summer. In this week’s research deep dive, we speak to the Class of 2020, both Leaving Cert students and final year university undergrads, to understand how they feel about their future, and whether the global pandemic has shifted their outlook or altered what they want in any real way. The short answer is, it has and it hasn’t. Read on for our five key learnings.

1They are identifying themselves as ‘The Lost Generation’.


Anxiety already marked this generation. More self-aware than any generation before them, Gen Z are feeling pushed to the edge by world events, and know that experiencing this pandemic at such a significant life stage will stamp them for the rest of their lives.





2Nostalgia by proxy.


These young people have been promised a lifetime of memories this summer by movies, books and music. They have what can only be described as a nostalgia by proxy for what could’ve been instead of what was. These are important milestones, and there is a genuine sadness about the absence of these would-be memories, and the loss of a natural closure of a chapter.


3The future is ambiguous.


The long wait for Leaving Cert students to know their fate, followed by frankly a disjointed narrative, has left many feeling unsure and insecure. This is reflected in the outlook of university graduates, who feel equally ambiguous about the future and are struggling to find any reassurance in the world post-graduation.





4Wants are the same, context has changed.


In terms of aspirations for this group, if anything, this period has just reinforced their desire to progress to the next stage. Plans to attend college or take up their first job are being held on to tightly. But there is a fragility to it all now, things are on pause, but they recognise it could disappear, or at the least, be a very different experience—first year online, or first job from home.

5They were always going to change the world, now it’s been accelerated.


A different kind of workplace, flexibility, a better work-life balance—these were things that were already priorities for this generation. They now believe the pandemic means that they might become the norm for everyone.

For the full research deck, please click here.

Emotion Tracker


As we approach the end of June (hold on, what?), moving ever closer to phase 3 of returning the country to ‘normal’, we are checking in once again with the nation to get a sense of our thoughts, feelings, mood, and emotions. Are we feeling optimistic and happy? Or is morale low among us? Let’s dive in and see…

As we can see from the graph above, we have been feeling rather up and down over the past two weeks. The spikes in optimism have been a result of people feeling happy that by ‘standing together’, we have been able to significantly reduce the number of new cases in the country. The frontline staff at University Hospital Waterford were on the receiving end of a huge amount of positive praise, alongside the continued support for all frontline staff across the country, as week-on-week we are seeing users take to social to congratulate their hard work.

There has also been some positive conversation surrounding the Department of Health’s 24/7 free texting service that provides a calming chat, or immediate support to those in need, with users on social recognising the importance of maintaining good mental health during this Most recently, there was a surge in positivity and excitement online as a result of football being back,


'Never thought I’d be this happy to see football Twitter back again, some sort of normality back anyways.'


We saw some sadness intermittently over the past 2 weeks—some of this was as a result of Leaving Cert students feeling sad that they were saying goodbye to their school days and their teachers, via a camera


'My teachers got me here crying with their goodbye messages. I did not expect to say goodbye to the people who have probably changed my life through Microsoft Teams #LeavingCert2020 #LeavingCert #coronavirus #LC2020.'


Some of these teenagers are also feeling annoyed and frustrated that while pubs are opening at the end of the month, they feel the same level of concern and dedication to the cause was not applied to the Leaving Cert,


'So if they could do all this for the pubs why couldn't the same effort be put in for Leaving Cert students?'


Other feelings of frustration being felt by people across social are mainly centred around reluctance from users to accept this new reality we are living through. Some people believe that the measures that are in place are ‘sucking the fun out of everything’, while others insist that even if the virus does start to spread quickly again, that ‘we can’t keep locking down.’ Some others are feeling as if progress is too slow with scientific research, questioning ‘are we living in the dark ages?’This feeling of impatience as we crave ‘normality’ again has been apparent as the weeks have gone by, and it is still very much a common theme.

In our rush to return to normal however, some are also feeling like our priorities are lying in the wrong place —


'Pubs, pubs, pubs. One might forget there is urgent medical care not happening in this country, or a sane plan to bring back children to school, and passports not to be got, but let’s talk about 90 minutes for a GAA game in a pub.'


Others are feeling like we are forgetting that Coronavirus is still with us, and want to remind others on social that we still need to be extremely cautious –


'No social distancing on Luas redline whatsoever. You’d think the Coronavirus has been cured, it has not!'


Overall, it’s worth mentioning that we’re noticing a significant reduction in the volume of people talking about Coronavirus online, whether in isolation as a topic, and even part of wider conversations. As we can see from the below graph, conversation around the virus has been on a steady decline, as conversations around the BLM movement for example have been more prominent in recent weeks.

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