10 Ways the Current Modern Age is Bad for Humanity
By Gregory Myers, Toptenz, 22 November 2016.
By Gregory Myers, Toptenz, 22 November 2016.
Most people like to think that whatever time they are in is the most advanced time that humanity has ever been in. They also tend to assume that all progress, and all change, is actually good and moves humanity forward. The truth is that humanity sometimes has setbacks, and it will certainly have setbacks again. There are actually many reasons to believe that our current modern age may not be very good for humanity long term, and could be setting us up for calamity in the future. As we have become increasingly reliant on technology, we have become less able to care for ourselves, and less able to plan for the future.
10. Our Current Era Of Mass Information Could Be A Dark Age In The Future
While most people think of our modern era as a golden age of technology and progress, the truth is that a lot of archivists and other data storage experts are extremely worried about the long term storage of the current sum of humanity’s knowledge. Right now, almost everything is stored in some electronic form, and the few records that are still on paper could easily be destroyed by adverse climate conditions.
They are worried that if any kind of serious upheaval happened, whether it were more like a climate shift, or something caused by massive wars, we could end up in a position where nearly all of our knowledge was irretrievable. Many of our current electronic forms of storage would not hold up that well in the event of a serious disaster, but even if they did, we would need to have the equipment to read them. In other words, if we don’t have the right electronic devices, all of that information is basically inaccessible. And if the information on how to make more of those electronic devices resides on electronic storage we cannot read, then we will be pretty much completely out of luck.
Archivists would like to find ways to store information that is more reliable and doesn’t degrade so easily over time like paper, but also doesn’t require a lot of sophistication like electronic media. While it is good that they are at least thinking about it, time is running out and even if they had the technology today, shifting all of the worlds information to a new storage media would take many, many years.
9. The Internet Has Allowed For Echo Chambers Of Radical And Abhorrent Ideas
The internet is certainly an incredible step in terms of communication. You can now wake up in the Western Hemisphere of the world and instantly get in touch with someone on the Eastern Hemisphere literally without even getting out of bed. Information now spreads at an incredibly fast rate, and most people would tell you that people are better informed than ever, due to the internet.
However, the internet communication era is not without its downsides. Mark Twain once famously said that “a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on,” but in today’s instant communication system, we can imagine we would have had to amend the quote to a much more drastic degree. The internet has given people access to most information in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has made people better at spotting untruths.
To make matters worse, this ability for horrible things to spread on the internet very quickly has led to the rise of all kinds of awful groups who band together in solidarity, such as pedophiles, and Neo-Nazis. Where once these people’s abhorrent viewpoints would be rightfully shunned, now they can go online and find a community where people give excuses to each other for their horrible behavior and sometimes encourage further criminal action. Some recent killers like Elliot Rodger and Dylan Roof were partly radicalized by hate groups - it cannot be said the online groups were directly responsible, but their violent and extremist rhetoric can help push unstable people over the edge.
8. The Digital Age Of “Right Now” Is Ruining Our Patience And Long Term Planning Capabilities
Many people have said that today’s children have little or no sense of delayed gratification anymore. However, what those people don’t realize is that it is not just the children - it’s pretty much anyone who regularly uses the internet or mobile devices. The way the internet works today is like a bright, shiny slot machine that gives you a dopamine high every time you pull that lever no matter what. People go to the internet looking for that instant satisfaction - whether it is a like on their Facebook status, or that next tidbit of information.
People are also able to instantly order almost anything, and if they are willing to pay enough, they can get it in less than 24 hours. They can watch, listen to, or download almost any file imaginable, and there is no need to wait or even leave your room - or whatever location you’re currently in. While many people praise the amazing convenience of the modern world, some worry that there are unseen negative consequences.
While some will defend the ‘now’ culture by stating that we are simply living in a faster paced and more connected modern world, the truth is that studies have shown that not only do people of today tend to have less sense of delayed gratification, but that this is actually detrimental in quantifiable terms.
To put it fairly simply, researchers who study internet addiction have found that the individuals with the ailment require constant gratification and find it much harder to plan long term. The internet may be incredibly convenient and make a lot of things very easy for us, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing in all ways.
7. Basic Geography Skills Are Abandoned More And More As GPS And Other Devices Take Their Place
Not that many years in the past, people were expected to know their North, South, East and West pretty well, without even using a compass. Most people were taught growing up how to use various tricks to figure these things out, but today, unless a kid is specifically in a group like the Boy Scouts, they won’t have much clue how to do these things upon reaching adulthood. This is, of course, because of the rise of devices like the GPS. People are abandoning learning skills like basic geography because now machines can handle that task for them just fine. It’s kind of like how the rise of calculators has made people worse at math, in general.
While this may seem harmless, the consequence is that as humans we become more and more dependent on machines, and we forget how to do important things without them. Apart from the more probable chance of our devices running out of power while we are in a situation where we need to know basic navigation, there is also the possibility that positioning satellites may not always be working properly. The exponential threat of space junk could have a landslide effect that could wipe out hoards of satellites if the world doesn’t quickly find a solution, so we may not always have that to rely on.
Many people also don’t realize that the maps that GPS systems use are often out of date, which means you may end up on a complete loop, or trying to continually follow a nonsensical route because the road was rebuilt and the map was not. In that situation, you will need to know how to interpret road signs and use basic geographical knowledge to get back on track and find your way to your destination.
6. Sedentary Lifestyles And Microevolution Toward Such Could Be Calamitous In The Face Of Real Disaster
It’s no secret that people around the world, and residents of the United States in particular, are suffering a serious weight, and public health crisis in general. It’s not just that people are eating more and more, or that they are eating the wrong foods; it is also that people are exercising less and less. Humans were once way more active creatures, and in a very short time span we have become incredibly sedentary creatures.
Many people get up, walk around the house for a bit to get ready for work. They go to their car and sit down while they drive to work, then they sit at their desk most of the day. They sit in the car on the way home and spend most of the day when they get home sitting, because they are mentally exhausted after work. The point of this is not to criticize the average person, but rather to point out that many people simply have little time or need in their day anymore for any rigorous physical activity.
The increasingly fast paced world we live in has also caused people to take increasing shortcuts when it comes to meal preparation, including simply skipping prep and eating out, which has also contributed to the problem. While some scientists speculate that we will evolve over time to function better while spending most of the day slumped over electronic devices, this could turn out to be a very bad thing, if we even manage to evolve that far to begin with.
If we evolve to mostly live in tandem with electronics and then we lose most of them for any particular reason, many people would then find survival very difficult. The more reliant we are on artificial means, the more danger we are in if those means ever collapse. While some people worry about artificial intelligence taking over the world, tech leaders are more worried about us putting too much stock in a computer system or systems in general, and then watching it crash or malfunction.
5. The Amount Of Skilled Laborers Is Decreasing Due To Machines And Assembly Line Systems
Assembly lines took off in the days of Henry Ford, when mass production of the automobile began, and since then it has been nothing but trouble for the skilled laborer. The truth is that while many people credit Ford with the invention of the automobile, he was building on the ideas of several past inventors. His true claim to fame was always the assembly line systems that he designed and perfected for building cars, and it quickly became all the rage.
Manufacturers and businesses saw a way to hugely cut production costs while outputting tons of product, and before long everyone was doing it. Many professionals did their best to make the system incredibly efficient, often at the expense of the workers’ health or sanity. From the very beginning skilled laborers were complaining, because they rightly realized that if all the skilled components of their job could be broken up into pieces on a line and then each given to unskilled laborers, they would be out of a job, or at least lose tons of work.
Many of them were forced to take work on an assembly line doing small bits of drudge work, only working on one piece when they could have made the entire thing themselves. While this has helped the modern age boom to an absolutely insane expansion throughout the globe, it has cost the world an incredible amount of skilled laborers overall. More and more work is done piecemeal by people who are only taught to do a small part of the overall product creation.
While mass production methods are efficient, they may hurt humanity as we continue to have less and less people who have full knowledge of how to build or design the things we most use - some of which are very important not just for our convenience, but also for our survival.
4. Vitamin-D Deficiency Due To Lack Of Sunlight Has Become A Huge Problem
While many people joke about being “vampires” today, due to staying up late and then sleeping in during the day, it may not be much of a joking matter. And, to make matters worse, it affects way more than just those people who tend to burn the midnight oil. The problem is that the average person in today’s modern world, whether they get up in the morning or the afternoon, spends very little time truly outside exposed to actual sunlight.
People get an insane amount of artificial light every day, while indoors, and even while outdoors, and this light pollution can be very detrimental to our health. However, actual exposure to real sunlight is very limited for most people, and when they go to the beach, people often fearfully lather on sunscreen and once again fail to obtain any Vitamin-D. Of course, sunscreen should be used in certain situations to avoid actual skin damage, but some people apply such a strong sunscreen that they not only block any damage, they also avoid getting any of the potential health benefits of sunlight exposure.
Having a deficiency in Vitamin-D is obviously not good for your health, and it has become an increasingly huge problem to the point it’s practically an epidemic. Researchers have discovered that the vast majority of children today are deficient in Vitamin-D, something that could become an increasing problem for each new generation. Children of today need to either take supplements or ideally, go outside more often and get actual sunshine.
3. Our Current Mass Production Systems Waste An Absolutely Insane Amount Of Food
Worldwide, the amount of food that is thrown away uneaten and totally unused is absolutely staggering. The numbers themselves are hard to estimate because many countries report their numbers differently, or don’t do so at all, but the best estimates suggest that if all the wasted food that is thrown away could actually be properly distributed, world hunger would not be an issue at all - we would have no trouble feeding everyone.
The problem is that like many things in our modern world, in order to feed millions of people across huge swaths of land, with an incredible sense of urgency, we have built a very assembly line system for the issue. This system is in many ways efficient in that we are able to get fresh food shipped across continents and feed millions of people, thousands of miles away, but in other ways it is almost criminally inefficient.
An incredible amount of food is thrown away in Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world simply because it does not look nice enough. These are fruits that do not have actual issues beyond anything cosmetic, such as being too curvy, or not being red enough, or being too lumpy. Truckloads and truckloads of perfectly good food are grown and thrown away every year for this reason. The farmers do not even try to sell them, because the grocery stores feel that customers will want the more consistent, beautiful looking food. For this reason, absolutely massive quantities are thrown straight in the trash heap.
This isn’t even counting the amount of food that food based businesses waste on a daily, weekly and yearly basis, or the waste from the combined individuals of the world. Perhaps if we did not waste food so shockingly, there would be no world hunger.
2. We Are Forced To Multitask In Today’s World And It Is Really Bad For Us
In today’s word, we are constantly expected to split our attention. While we are talking to people in person, we always have our phones, which constantly beep at us with notification after notification. People today will halfheartedly interrupt themselves to look at their phone while continuing to talk to others, and those in the group will act as if this is completely normal and often do the same themselves. This constant tendency to be interrupted by cell phones has caused a huge upsurge in distracted driving to the point that many experts are now worried that distracted driving may be a bigger threat than drunk driving.
Interruptions are constant and the internet itself is designed to pull our attention all over the place and then back to where we were again. Many sites will have articles with not just a few links for source information, but dozens of links interspersed throughout brightly highlighting colors on almost every other word (…yeah, we get the irony in us pointing this out). We are almost expected to jump all over the place without any rhyme or reason.
While some people may boast how good they are at multitasking, the truth is that researchers have found that whether forced or practiced, multitasking is really bad for your brain. It makes it hard for you to focus properly, and it hurts all tasks you are trying to do at the same time.
Multitasking also doesn’t really exist - at least not the way most people think it does. The reason why it is so bad for your brain is because you can only perform one kind of task at a time, so when multitasking, your brain is actually just jumping back and forth from each task to the other really fast. This stresses you out and makes it hard for you to do anything properly.
1. Our Narcissistic Obsession With Taking Selfies Now Causes More Deaths A Year Than Shark Attacks
As the latest evolution of the internet exploded in popularity with sites like Facebook and BuzzFeed, and the viral video or news story became a huge thing, we saw another, more irritating trend emerge. Before long, people were taking “selfies” - photos that they took of themselves, usually using a mobile device of some sort, and usually of the upper half of themselves staring vaguely into the camera.
At first most people actually made fun of selfies and the culture around them. Those that took a lot of them were mocked for needing attention or gratification from others, and many people found the idea that you can’t find someone to take the picture for you to be kind of pathetic. However, despite the mockery, the popularity of taking selfies continued to rise, and before long they became an increasingly normal part of modern life. Companies now unironically sell “selfie sticks,” which are devices designed to help you hold out the camera while taking a “selfie.”
While some people who don’t enjoy their popularity may just consider them a harmless nuisance, selfies are actually becoming an increasingly deadly fad. People in recent years have been taking selfies in stranger places and more dangerous situations in order to get a really cool picture, and it can have less than desirable results.
In many cases using these selfie sticks to take pictures near dangerous animals, or near cliffs or high up on tall buildings, have led people to be mauled, or fall to a grisly deaths. While it isn’t exactly epidemic levels, enough people died from taking selfies last year that selfies have now edged out shark attacks in yearly deaths. It is a sad reflection on society that so many people are more concerned with getting the perfect shot of their own glorious visage than they are of their own personal safety.
Top image: Food waste from an industrial bakery in Germany. Credit: Mixabest/Wikimedia Commons.
[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image added.]