The good old days

We actually had one of these Kodak carousels, though not sure if my parents still have it. We would sometimes look at the slides without the carousel though. Maybe it was broken, or we were especially stupid children, it’s hard to say.


The good old days, they weren’t that good. Think about it: this is the best time period you could be living in even if you ignore the advances in everything from medicine to not throwing raw sewage out the window. When someone asks you this question you’re likely to think you’ll be some rich merchant or monarch or ‘pirate’. But are you rich and powerful now? No one says “You know, I’d really like to experience what life as a helot in Sparta was like”.

Where is your social media now?

For the record, I’d do an Ibn Battuta.

Of course, you could argue that knowing the things you do now, you could very easily be rich and powerful if you were in your chosen time, except you wouldn’t know these things. How could you? And even if you somehow could have knowledge of the future, everyone else would think you were practicing the dark arts and would promptly burn you at the stake before returning to their lives of throwing raw sewage out windows.

Ask anyone with a high school education what they would have done in the Great War. The correct answer is to go to war and stupidly charge at machine guns because the old men have told you that’s what you do to machine guns.

All this is before even thinking about the high infant mortality rate. And even if you survived childhood, you might live up to the ripe old age of 60. This is still a milestone in Korea even though these days Koreans have a life expectancy of about 80 years. Traditions take time to die off.

This brings us to how we look at the world around us. Have we become more violent? You could point to the frequent acts of violence and human rights abuses everywhere (almost a mass shooting a day in the US, Syria shenanigans, ethnic cleansing everywhere), as evidence that we have. But I’d say this isn’t the case, considering our colourful history of killing each other ever since Thak realised a club to Thok’s head meant Thak now had two wives.

Finish him!!!!!

While it’s easier to believe that video games and high temperatures cause violence (marijuana if you are in 1936 and can somehow read this; Hello! Maybe you should be taking a look at what Hitler is up to), I’m pretty sure there was a lot more violence long before either of these became issues.

What has happened is that we have become more aware of violence, especially violence in countries foreign to our own, through constant media coverage and the advent of social media (these two are in a feedback loop). It just makes better news to highlight the negative foreign stories than to focus on the negative local stories. If we focus on the negative local stories then we would be forced to remove the log from our own eye first and then try to remove the speck of dust from our friend’s. It’s much easier to just chug along thinking that while whatever atrocity is happening over there in Foreignstan is terrible, it’s a good thing that I’m a citizen of Localstan.

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