Monday, April 23, 2012

The World Was Always Awful

I saw this funny idea for a book cover on fusion anomalog:

The World Was Always Awful
A Guide to World History for People who Romanticize the Past

I always argue with my Mom about her belief that the world used to be a better place in years past. As the title of the fake book suggests, there have always been awful things going on, since the beginning of human history.

'Better' & 'Worse' are value judgments, so whether things have improved or not is mostly a matter of personal opinion.

Most people who think that life was better in the "Good Ol' Days" are mostly thinking back to a time when they were younger. At the time, they were probably just ignorant of all the horrible crap going on around the planet. Of course things seemed better when we were younger. A young person has no idea that genocide, disasters, crime, & other horrible things are going on everywhere... all the time!

Another factor contributing to the common perception that society is descending into chaos is the 24-hour cable news cycle. We now hear all the crazy stuff happening around the world, in real time.

Although there are plenty of bad things happening in the world, my personal view is that the state of humanity is improving overall. It would be cool to be a temporary time-traveler, but I would definitely prefer to live my life NOW than at any time in history.


Anonymous said...

Love this post. I have the same argument with my mother,
who is caught up in the whole "if a child gets kidnapped in
Miami,everyone in Ontario needs to lock their doors and
panic" mode of thought. I've shown her RCMP statistics from
reputable sources and she's responded by saying "I don't
need the facts, I know what the truth is". But the reality is that
plenty of really bad stuff in our town was happening 40 years
ago. The difference was that things that didn't happen to white
men were ignored, blamed on the victim, or turned into a joke-
and we were mostly unaware of similar personal events
outside of our own community.

I agree- I would definitely prefer to live my life NOW.

Osa A said...

I just went on a five-minute search for this book before reading his and finding out it doesn't exist.

Someone needs to write this right now so I can buy it and stop raging at my computer.

Never have I wanted anything so badly.

AC said...

Someone needs to make this an actual book. I would so buy it for every old person in my family so I could stop hearing about the "good old days".

Unknown said...

I wish this book is real. I'm so irritated with people who romanticizes the past. Hello? Are you sick? Only one thing to say to those people: WORSE SEGREGATION THAN WHAT WE'RE HAVING NOW.

Anonymous said...

I was about to reference this book in an essay. WELL. Someone had better hurry up and write this before Monday.

Anonymous said...

The angels of our better nature, Steven Pinker, 2011.

Veeven said...

In other words, the world is becoming a better place. :-)

You might be interested in this talk by Steven Pinker on the decline of violence:

Admin said...

Veeven: I don't by the idea of the decline of violence in general, I think in the 3rd world generally awful shit is still happening, it's just that 3rd world victims are largely ignored the way Espie pointed out that none-white 1st world male victims were 40 years ago. There has been more on average of 2 NATO, US military or CIA interventions per year since WW II. This has caused often incalculable amounts of violence and discontent... and that's just the stuff we know about.

Sharada said...

I concur.

Manoelle D'Fran├ža said...

Okay, guys. I'll write it.

3Mitch said...

So would I - & I'm an Old Person!

Anonymous said...

Whatever complaining ourselves everything we live temporary blooming life and tomorrow everybody die. Think first why our parents got sicknesses and going old then wonderful cemetery? Well our world terrible awful..

Unknown said...

As a historian who's spent decades dismantling some really bad legends and other "everyone knows" tosh, I can attest we really need this book. I use the term "golden age syndrome" to describe the attitude others have mentioned, i.e. "things were so much better when I was a kid" and so forth.

Most people have no idea how different things really are today compared with even 75 years ago. Or that they're also the same, just with different actors.

Right now I'm working on a video covering the topic of premature burial, a pervasive fear that's almost vanished from the lexicon as the result of modern medical practice. Stay tuned!

Unknown said...

Laughed so hard.
Hope you come right.


Unknown said...

Very very interested!!
Please dont forget to share!

davistrain said...

There are books that one can buy and read that fit into this thought: I recommend "The Good Old Days, They were terrible" by Otto Bettmann.

krocks said...

In the original PhD program I was applying to, it required a dissertation proposal for the application. I seriously considered having my dissertation and studies be on this phenomenon.
I have recently decided I want a different program. After being directed to this book and finding out it’s not real, and seeing everyone’s comments…I may be considering it again for my new PhD program mhmmm…

Unknown said...

The Better Angels of Our Nature. Thanks! I just checked it out from the library.

Anonymous said...

You asked for it and now it is here!