Itís not uncommon for us all to reflect on the old days and think that life was better then. I found myself having such a conversation yesterday. I was surprised by the intensity with which we spoke about the benefits of the old days and the evil nature of todayís life. We spoke of the crime, the cost of living, the happiness of people and the challenges facing us in our busy modern lifestyles. I found myself torn between agreeing with aspects of this, particularly the negative aspects to busy-ness of our lives, but wondered how much was a fantasizing about the old days and a demonizing of modern life.
We certainly know a lot more about what is going on now Ė we have 24/7 access to news as well as multiple ways of accessing information. Hearing the news repeated over and over may make it seem like there is more crime and problems in the world today. In the good old days we were really well protected from the nastier aspects of life when we only watched the 6 pm news broadcast, caught brief snippets on the radio and had the daily editions (or twice daily perhaps) of the newspapers. The range and breadth of news coverage has certainly changed now and we often able to find out intricate details about crimes committed. There is less sanitizing of the news now. So itís no wonder then that the good old days seem so much safer.
Yes the cost of living could be greater nowadays but how can we even begin to compare our life with periods such as war time or the Great Depression. We have created such a sophisticated lifestyle that costs money. We have great temptations such as cars, double storey homes, overseas travel, modern technology and time saving devices Ė these all cost money (lots of money in some cases)but havenít they also been fabulous in enabling us to live more enriched and meaningful lives?
Our health statistics, particularly in relation to mental health, would not necessarily confirm that we are living such enriched and meaningful lives. We are possibly more disconnected from each other than ever before, despite our capacity to leave our homes and get around. Our search for meaning and enrichment may never be over in a world with so many opportunities. Perhaps we may never feel fulfilled or satisfied as we overstimulate ourselves with possibilities. At least in the old days you didnít have such wonderful opportunities Ė who says whether thatís better or worse?