Was it better in the past?

Before you dismiss me as a bitter old man living in the past, I ask you to give me a chance to tell my story. Becuase I am convinced that it was better before. Maybe not everything, but most of it. 

An example I like to tell from a lecturer who once tried to debunk the myth that it was better before. He took his grandmother as an example, who had been boiling her coffee on the stovetop her whole life. But one day, she received a coffee maker as a gift, and suddenly she could have her coffee in no time.

But that's just the problem, in my opinion, that everything always has to go so fast. And no, I'm not a die-hard technophobe who hides in a dark cave. I have nothing against new inventions and innovations. But many of them are just an "improvement" on older devices. And they don't make our lives better, just faster. Let me give you some examples.

Netflix and all streaming services. In the past, when you rented movies, it was an entire adventure you got to experience. First, you planned with your friends that you would have a movie night. Then, you went down to the video store and looked for the perfect movie among all the cassette tapes. If you couldn't agree, you asked the film expert at the counter if he could recommend something. You bought your candy, chips, and soda at the same place. And you enjoyed coming home with one or more movies from the video store. Even though it was a bit more complicated to get a movie night going, it was a whole experience you got. Something you looked forward to.

It's a nightmare these days. You sit down on the couch, open your streaming service, and you're faced with thousands of movies to choose from. In the worst case, you spend an hour browsing and still can't find anything. The magic of the video store is gone.

The increase in mental health problems among people is a well-known trend. One possible explanation is that it has become more acceptable to talk about mental health problems, which can lead to more people seeking help. This is a positive development, as it can help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

However, if we are so open now about how we feel, more and more people should be feeling better over time. Unfortunately, that is not the case. 

What could be the reason for this? If we look back thousands of years, our brains have not developed much. Our brains are still stuck in the savanna. When we compare that to how quickly technology is developing, our brains cannot keep up.

Our connected society, where we have to be available all the time, stresses our brains. If we do not respond to a message within a few hours, the other person might think we have forgotten them or are ignoring them. Again, it was better before. Then we had our home phone, and if we did not answer it, we were probably out with our friends. The whole connected pressure did not exist then.

So should we disconnect ourselves completely from the outside world? Absolutely not. But since the brain does not really keep up, we must find ways and routines to avoid the stress it can give us. Because to be honest, there is a lot of good with social media, for example, without it, my story about mental illness would never have reached millions of people.

Looking at society as a whole, it is my personal opinion that it has become more raw. There have always been horrors in the world, but it feels like they never end right now. Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, the financial crisis, the conflict between Israel and Gaza – and I have surely missed many other terrible things that are happening in the world. In the end, you can't take in any more. All of this happened within three years.

I dream of a world where everyone is treated with respect and dignity. Maybe it will happen in 2024? If not, then I will continue to dream of my time at the video store.