Has technology translated into quality of life?
My cousin called me last night and we were discussing our grandmother, Sally, who was born in 1913, lived over 103 years and died 2017. Her brother [ the one I remember best ], uncle Frank, was born 1908 and lived to be 89.
Both of them were fantastic story tellers [ as people usually were in those days ], almost professional level card players, and just absolute master tradesmen and ‘jacks-of-all-trades’ too. I say “tradesmen” when referring to my grandmother as well because keeping a house is a trade and a real house wife is equal in skill to any master carpenter or mason. Grandma could take plain raw vegetables from her garden and make a meal that you could not get in a 5 star restaurant at any price. 10 people? 15? 25? No problem, she always had just enough…places were set, seating arranged perfectly, every course delicious.
After the meal came coffee and the stories of how things were. Uncle Frank delivering bread and blocks of ice from his horse drawn carriage as a youth. Scrimping during the depression. WW2. etc. All of it underscored by unshakable family bonds, optimism, and rugged individualism. What always stood out to me was the incredible level of self agency that people enjoyed back then. Yes, you were on your own [ accept for your family ], yes there were no government safety nets, yes there was real danger, but all of that made life fuller too. They lived lives of meaning, tragedy and triumph that people today could not fathom.
With all of our technology, ease, convenience and safety have we lost the “gusto” of life? Most certainly from where I’m standing. Todays world is colorless, bleak, and somewhat pointless by comparison. The family unit is a disaster and with it, the moral character of future generations.
The labor participation rate is now 61%….how can such a thing be possible in a functioning society? It cannot. Add the unemployment rate [ 6% ] to the number and we conclude that only 55% of working aged adults in this country are employed. This is improvement?
We have about 25% of children raised in single family homes…usually without a father…who are growing up so twisted that they dont even know whether they are boys or girls, or whether such a thing even exists…something even a common dog understands innately. 1 in 4 Americans is on psychiatric drugs. We know intuitively that a person can handle tremendous hardship and difficulty if he/she has a strong sense of identity and a good foundation. What my grandmother would call ‘having both feet on the ground’.
Havent we, in many ways, traded our humanity for technology? The result being that we now have eliminated many external crises only to face an internal one? What you get are people who seem to live lives of comfort and ease but are internally broken..or..as uncle Frank would put it, “Crying with a loaf of bread under each arm”.
OK so I’m a Luddite, and proud of it. The fact is, if you could trace the rise of technology to the downfall of the family, faith, morality, employment, optimism and humanity in general…you’d find an almost perfect correlation.
I can relate, I had a grandmother born in 1903. She lived to 97 on Southern style cooking. Depression era farm girl from Mississippi. Only girl with 8 male siblings.
I was fortunate to have her live in our house growing up from the age of 6 to 18. I look back and realize how influential she was in my life. I grew up a suburban kid, but I had my first garden plot about age 12. She taught me the basics of sewing and cooking. She was my mother’s mother and my mother couldn’t hold a candle to her when it came to, what I consider to be, basic life skills.
I share your thoughts on where technology has taken us. Sure, some of that is the romantic notion of days gone by. However, I believe the evidence, and you lay it out clearly, is overwhelming that there has been a tremendous price for the “conveniences” of our modern existence. The majority of which are things put upon by some corporation trying to make a buck. You are right, there was plenty of tragedy and sorrow then, but it just seems that most people were tough enough to persevere. No safe spaces meant that you had to have skills to move ahead.
If you are taking a breath, you are not totally safe. It is unrealistic to think otherwise. That is life. Resilience is what you build to stay as “safe” as possible. These days, few are willing to do what it takes to build resilience.
Religion is the #1 cause for the forced, destructive separation of humans from nature which has allowed mankind to destroy nature and himself in the process.
Technology came along just as religious belief was beginning to wane and now I would say that irrational belief in, indeed worship of Technology outstrips religious belief worldwide.
It is only because of this new belief system that we can have the entire world convinced that nature is out to kill them and we need Tech to save us all.
Don’t even try and convince a true believer that this is what is happening, you will be shunned.
Homo Sapiens have been around for roughly 200,000 years. It is the mistake of presentism to believe that these ancestral humans were any less than we are today.
For nearly 95% of our existence, humans existed as migratory omnivore apex predators. Basically, we followed herds of prey and searched for bountiful niches to exploit.
Nearly fifteen thousand years ago, the technology of agriculture enabled a new culture of life: civilization. Agriculture is totalitarian and catastrophic (even primitive agriculture). It takes roughly 500 years to replenish an inch of topsoil. Without hydrocarbon fertilizers for industrial farming, you get a dustbowl fairly quickly.
I realize you were talking about a century ago, but there is a much bigger picture here. “That slippery slope that we started walking on, well we started walking on it over 10,000 years ago.” – Richard Manning
Modern tech or ancient tech, it doesn’t make a dimes’ worth of difference. All technologies have inherent biases which dictate how they will be used. “Scientists are not now working on a solar-powered warhead, nor am I trying to build a nuclear-powered water heater on my roof.” – T.S. Bennet
Television is a great example of this. It’s a non-reciprocating form of communication that requires expensive equipment. It also lowers your brain waves into alpha, making you suggestible. Therefore, television serves to transmit propaganda from the rich to the poor. Hence why television is primarily consumer-culture propaganda. The newzak is stocked with fear so you’ll consume more products.
I could go on about this at length, incorporating many different topics, but I think the more pertinent question is: Why did we leave a life of relative ease and play (20 hour work-week) to one of immeasurably hard work, health problems, and wealth inequity? As soon as we see agriculture, we see cavities (alpha amylase enzymes in your mouth turn grain starches into sugars) as well as bone defects and deformities. We all see several small huts and then one large hut attached to a granary. Then, we see wars for those surpluses. Sounds like fun, right?
My two cents: There’s a monkey on our back. Some existential parasite latched on sometime in our ancient past. Whether it’s cryptoterrestrial, extraterrestrial, or spiritual remains to be seen. We lived in paradise for 180,000 years. Then some alien force taught us how to be civilized. Then, almost by magic, petroleum enables us to septuple our population in less than a hundred fifty years.
Sounds like a farmer readying to reap a crop.
I agree with you, for the most part, except for the part about ever living in a paradise. Though the biblical story of the garden of Eden could be a reference to Adam and Eve being banished from the garden of hunter gathering life style and into agriculture, because…’God.’
There are quite a few sites that indicate our ancient ancestors ate each other, exo-cannibal style, while hunter gathering. And every human alive has genes that indicate cannibalism took place in their remote past.
So, yes, agricultural life style may have been worse but hunter gathering was no foraging picnic either, imo!
There is a book called “Parable of the Tribes” that provides an explanation as to why we abandoned hunter gatherer lifestyles for agriculture. It provides the best explanation for that phenomenon that I have found. Basically, the author states that population pressures – not voluntary choices – forced us to adopt the agricultural lifestyle.
Both of my British grandfathers were born around 1896. They were both coal miners and the stories they told me about their work described a brutish, dangerous occupation where they were essentially used as beasts of burden no better than medieval serfs. They worked twelve hour shifts, six days a week and Sunday must have been a glorious relief from purgatory.
Modern day coal miners, in comparison, work in an environment where all of the hard work is done by machines, their safety is protected by electronic devices and they have ample spare time. In that industry at least, technology has improved the lives of the workers beyond all recognition. The same can be said for all trades which have survived from the nineteenth century to the present day thereby allowing a direct comparison.
In all industries, before the invention of antibiotics, a small scratch could be fatal. Gangrene, STDs and other infectious diseases were untreatable and often resulted in death. Life expectancy in the USA increased from around 50 years in 1900 to over 75 years in 2000.
Nevertheless, in the course of the twentieth century, it is arguable that the quality of life in terms of the simple pleasures of family and social life declined in many areas. Uncomplicated by television and the internet, multi-generational families thrived on simple pleasures and home cooked food. Leisure time was spent outdoors and did not rely upon expensive and complicated equipment and clothing. People did not miss what they never had and expectations were low, so satisfaction was more easily achieved.
In recent years, I have been appalled by the way the internet and social media have turned young people into addicts of instant communication and mindless computer games. Compared to the healthy, carefree outdoor activities of my youth and even the childhood and adolescence of my sons, my grandkids and their contemporaries seem to have become virtual zombies, perpetually mesmerized by a glowing screen. This is an alarming situation which I believe does not bode well for their future.
On the other hand, prior to the internet and the resulting explosion of peer-to-peer communication, all we (the people) knew was what we were told. The narrative was absolutely controlled by those who owned the newspapers, radio and television stations. Now, as we see here at PP, ideas can flourish and be shared without the censorship and distortion of corporate media (despite their best efforts). This newfound, universal ability to communicate might even be the salvation of mankind.
Could you expound on that?
My studies have suggested that infanticide was a commonplace practice.
Looks like a good read.
Though the biblical story of the garden of Eden could be a reference to Adam and Eve being banished from the garden of hunter gathering life style and into agriculture, because…’God.’
Even that religion buried the associating mythology. It was corruption by Satan, that lead to banishment. However, the book of Enoch literally describes fallen angels teaching humanity the sciences and warfare. This book was classified as apocrypha, and reserved for those ready to understand the teachings. In a nutshell, this book isnt in the bible because it defines civilization as the product of fallen angels.
Steve, the book is crammed with information. It was the doctoral dissertation of the author. So here is an extremely limited description of the book.
The author notes that hunter-gatherer societies (both then and now) knew how to farm, but didn’t. The hunter gatherer lifestyle was easier and more fulfilling in almost every way imaginable. But humans were too successful as a species. As populations increased hunter-gatherers came into conflict with other hunter-gather groups for available resources. That led to conflict as well as the inability of natural environment to provide enough resources to fill the needs of the increasing human population. Agriculture developed – not because it was a superior lifestyle – but because it provided more foodstuffs per acre to feed the increasing population. The agricultural diet was often inferior to the original hunter-gather diet but there was no choice given population pressures.
But agricultural societies ran into the same problem. Humans were too successful and continued to increase in numbers. That caused conflict and the development of increasingly complex societies needed to fight increasingly sophisticated wars over available resources in a continuing competition which is still going on to this very day.
That is a very inadequate summary of a very detailed and complex argument backed up by citation to a huge amount of sources.
But it gives you an idea of what the book is about.