Andy Sack, a successful entrepreneur, good guy, and born-again blogger, asks:
I have a question for the blogosphere —
Is the world more fucked up today than it was 20 years ago?
Absolutely not. There’s never been a better time to live. Putting aside all the very obvious modernization advances which expand and deepen what we can do during our short time on this planet, there are also various positive social indicators. In America at least, teen pregnancy is down, child poverty is down, teen suicide is down, drunk driving is down, violent crime is down.
Pining for the good ole days is old-person-talk. There’s never been a better time to be alive! So, go live!
5 comments on “There's Never Been a Better Time to Be Alive”
1986. I was 8 years old. I remember from that time that there were fewer cars on the streets and therefore fresher air; fewer channels on TV and therefore fewer brainwashed people. There was snow in winter and summers were hot but not boiling. There was something magic about going abroad: a different currency, never-seen-before clothes or stuff in general… (Careful, I’m not saying I’m against globalization).
It seems that there is a tendency for thinking that past years were somehow better and more genuine (yes, they had bad things, too). And while I agree with Ben, yes, all those indicators are going down in America – and thankfully in other countries, too- I also think that there are so many other indicators that unfortunately are rising: higher rates of divorce; of dissatisfaction with work; of levels of stress; of young unemployment due to packed universities who often “produce” over-graduated students lacking practical skills; of domestic aggressions; of pederasty; of xenophobia; of bullying in schools…
The one that worries me the most (cheers EU!) is the one that has forced me to quit my country: lack of opportunities for young people. Obviously, I talk about Spain. But other European countries have the same problem, too (read Italy and France). It worries me as well the deforestation of the Amazon. Yes, WE ARE fucking up the planet. And so badly. We are running out of natural resources but hey, we have dishwashers (low-consumption ones, as if that would make any difference); two or three cars by household and a whole lot of unnecessary needs… I’m definitely for technology (I have a laptop, an I-pod, a digital camera and all that) but I’m for using it cleverly and sensitively, too. Yes, the world is more fucked up now than it was twenty years ago. On the outside and inside.
There seems to be a lot of doomsaying in society today, especially after 9/11. I think it is important to remember that in the course of human history there has been a general trend for quality of life to improve. You are totally correct, Ben, now really is the best time to be alive.
Have you read Gilbert’s book Stumbling on Happiness yet, Ben? One of the big points is how we tend to view our memories of the past through a distorted lens that is often quite different from our actual experience of those events.
My only question is whether people 500 years from now will look back at these times as if we were still uncivilized barbarians?
Ben – I completely agree with your answer. I suggested to Andy that he reread Atlas Shrugged for perspective, plus that will distract him from whatever is bothering him.
Ben: From my nearly 50-year-old perspective, I’d say it’s a mixed bag now, like any other moment in history. In some ways better, in some ways worse. I certainly think the advent of the digital age and the Internet have in general made the cultural situation much better than it was in the 1980s or so, when TV pretty much wiped out home-based creativity for a decade or so, unless you were a determined hobbyist/poet/artist or a DIY punk.
But I also reflect on many of the beautiful places I grew up in and vacationed in as a kid and a young adult, and many of those places have become overdeveloped, paved over, polluted, or just plain turned into Mall AmericaTM, losing their distinctive regional/geographical flavor in the process.
The current government of the US is certainly much, much more reckless, destructive, and shamelessly deceptive now than any previous administration in my lifetime — but you and I talked about that the other day, and I know you either disagree or don’t think of it that way.
But — mostly because of the digital era and related developments — I think there are many more opportunities for gifted young people to rise to positions of leverage now than their were when I was your age. That’s a great thing.
Certainly things are a little hairy right now– though it’s nothing we won’t work through.
I think our generation (meaning young people today) WILL find an alternative energy source, and hopefully within a century or so put oil to rest for good.
Doing so will take the gasoline out of the fire (no pun intended) in a lot of issues we have today. Hell, Brazil has already done it (sugar cane & ethanol) so once we get rid of an administration that was chummy with Big Oil and Middle East royalty to begin with, things will improve.
In addition, seeing how everyone knows that Global Warming isn’t left-wing voodoo, environmental changes will happen too; take a look around– we all know what’s happening, and it’s ultimately up to us to fix it if we want a better future.
Perhaps I am just a positive person in general, but I don’t count the world out just yet. Teen pregnancy, drug use, etc. were all supposed to have done young people in, and guess what? They didn’t.
Sometimes a good mindset is the first step in making a difference.