WOW dude, after that experience you've had, I wouldn't blame you! I too have had strange issues after updates before on Zorin OS.
I do run into the issue of an app not loading after clicking on it, after my OS has just booted in lots of times. If I wait for a bit, then click on it again, it loads.
I never did bother doing any research into the cause of that issue, since there is a work around by just waiting and then re-launching it.
I have had other issues after updating. Such as my custom mouse pointer was visable in CKB-NEXT before the update, but after the update, the curser now shows as tiny default curser while hovering over the app.
Another issue I've had, is video drivers not loading due to a kernal update, which forced me to revert back to an older kernal version so I could boot my system.
And another issue I've had recently infact, after the recent update I had to Zorin OS, is that after restarting and logging in, the OS didn't load properly.
Everything was B&W, and looked like year 2000's antiquated Linux OS design, nothing like Zorin at all! I logged out, checked the gear icon, made sure I still had XFCE selected.
You probably don't know, but I am running XFCE desktop over Zorin OS. After confirming XFCE was selected, I logged back in again, and everything was normal.
Sometimes, you just feel like your computer is trying to prank you or something, like its got a mind of its own. But we both know, its just the updates screwing everything up.
I agree, try POP OS, see how you like it. Make sure to choose the video driver version that is right for your system, and it will come pre-installed with said driver without you have to.
You can also choose which desktop environment version you want with POP OS as well. If you want a peppy experience, deffinetly go with the XFCE flavor of POP OS.
The only thing Gnome is good for is a good resource suck. lol