Do you remember when things were good, the world was simple, and life was easy?
No, me neither.
As far as I can tell, every society has complained that the previous generation had it all simple, more pleasant, slower-paced and less-demanding; and pre-industrial societies said pretty much the same thing, only, lacking the printing press, they were forced to say it in profoundly more interesting stories, having relatively little ability to produce special effects without actually setting themselves on fire.
That is not to say that history, if such a thing exists, is a perpetual and unpleasant equilibrium between having a level of stress which increases proportionate to how much your labor is saved by technological and social increases, because secretly, that’s not an equilibrium, that’s a plunge straight downward. Would you direct me back to the treetops with the most bananas, please?
On the other hand, I’ll take my polio shots, my semi-flying cars, modern dentistry, and a sort-of civilization which, on average, continues increasing human lifespan and human health. But by the same token, I can’t be the only person who yearns, once in a while for the days when tobacco companies lied to us in ways we could complain about out loud, casinos used crude psychological techniques to loosen our wallets, and companies employed symbolic language to take wild shots at affecting our human drives and instincts. Now, a company wishing to hide its horrible side need merely use an inarguable social good as a shield, no matter how unrelated it is; and varying propaganda techniques can cut through to our hearts with less difficulty than a master chef coring an apple.
Hell, remember when it was socially acceptable to say “propaganda” was “propaganda”?
Now we just ride fragile life-rafts as we flounder through a mental sea that’s busy swallowing Atlantis—tsunamis tearing apart our little ships of self, on waters full of monsters we created ourselves, hoping like hell that other rafts will capsize so that we have just a bit more personal space. Our brains can’t hold it, and no, they are not handling it. There’s too much information, too much manipulation and, at the same time, too few opportunities to talk about how we actually feel.
It’s not that I think we need to take to the streets, smashing machines and screaming “NED LUDD!”—it’s that, at least once in a while, we’d like to be able to open our mouths without our voices screaming something no logical human would believe.