Was the world a much better place then, than it is now?
When you walk into my restaurant, you’ll instantly notice the big screen TV behind the cash register. Most of the time, there’ll be a soccer match on, feeding my dad's obsession. On the off chance there’s no soccer, we’ll show the news—always good for sparking conversation. While watching, customers tend to repeat the bad news out loud: murders, terrorism, the state of the economy. It can get a bit tiresome.
Members of older generations are quick to comment, things like "I feel bad for your future" and "Things were never this bad back in my day. Now, there are killings every day." But when I hear this, I always wonder, ‘I know things are bad out there, but are they actually that much worse than they used to be?' Is my generation doomed?' Or does the world simply seem worse due to technology and the 24-hour news cycle? Is it just that we’re bombarded with bad news to the point that we have no choice but to listen?’
Let’s say a group like ISIS existed over 100 years ago; without widespread technology and social media, we wouldn’t hear much about such a group. Maybe we’d know nothing at all. But in today’s world, with its constant updates, even if you don’t want to hear bad news, you have no choice. Every Facebook login means seeing another post or two or ten. Technology has even made it possible to witness live broadcasts of ISIS killings. The horror is matched by immediacy, to the point that the story just grows and grows.
There is domestic horror, too—school shootings, political scandals, murder, racism. It is hard to measure just how much awful behavior went unreported years ago, misleading people into thinking "things were better." Today, if someone suffers a tragedy, even in the middle of the night, news crisscrosses the globe in minutes. Years ago, it would take at least until the next day to read about it in the newspaper or see it on the nightly news. And even once you knew about it, details would be scarce. It wouldn’t necessarily dominate your thoughts. As for other incidents such as racism or political scandals, there was a point in time that things like these things were widely accepted by society, not even making them a newsworthy topic.
My point is this: Maybe people just believed things were better years ago because we knew less and information was not so easily accessible to us. You know the old saying--ignorance is bliss. Try avoiding social media for one week. Don’t turn on the TV. Don’t pick up a newspaper. Turn off the computer. I guarantee the world will feel a little better. So will you. I do not actually recommend you doing this, but I want to point out what will most likely happen if you do.
With all that said--I’m a news addict and I think people should be informed. But there’s a difference between being informed and being obsessed. And I think if we are going to obsess over something, it should be something positive. Like the positive things technology has to offer us. Things that were not available to us in the "good old days." Like being able to easily connect with friends, new and old through facebook. Or speading messages of love and hope through one simple tweet. Using skype to speak to loved ones halfway across the world. Being able to easily educate ourselves on almost any topic just by typing a few words into google. Donating to your favorite cause is only a click away. Starting a blog, or an online business. They say the economy is bad, but the internet has made it easy for anyone to become an entreprenuer. And in times of tragedy finding comfort in the fact that people all around the world stand by and support you, not just those within your community. Technology has done a good job exposing all the horrors of the world making us believe things have gotten worse, but it also offers us tools we never had access to in the past. Tools that help positively impact ourselves and the rest of the world. This leads me to believe that the world is not THAT much worse than it was. Our generation and future generations are not doomed. And we have just as much hope for a bright future as we did "back in the day."
As for the news being on at the restaurant: lately, I've been mixing in shows that are more fun and less controversial—like Family Feud. Everyone loves a good game show.