Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

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Gambit37
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Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Gambit37 » 23-Oct-09 14:30

I'm becoming increasingly disillusioned about the current British Government, and how bad policies and dumb decisions over the last decades have turned this country into a nanny state, a surveillance state, a paranoid state and basically, quite a state.

What do you feel about society in general, and your country in particular, compared to how you felt 20 or 30 years ago?

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by oh_brother » 23-Oct-09 15:27

Well Ireland has probably changed more than the UK....30 years ago condoms and divorce were both illegal, the church had much too strong a hold on society, there was mass emigration and there was a lot of trouble in Northern Ireland to take just some examples. So in all those ways society has advanced a lot. Then again for everything you gain you lose something else, so there are now much more drugs, I believe more crime (I don't have any statistics for this, just based on what people say...), etc. All in all though I would not want to go back.

I lived in England for 3 years, and to be honest I did not have any problems with a nanny state. I was shocked at the amount of cctv cameras around, but I got used to it very quickly. Some other people complained about it, but I didn't feel that anybody was sitting behind a desk watching me, rather that just if there was a crime the film would be examined.

Paranoia is common in most "advanced" countries now, maybe the safer we are the more we worry ourselves about unimportant stuff. Well, that and the fact that most people have no feeling for relative risk or probability.

Edit: Also, 30 years ago we did not have Dungeon Master.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by PaulH » 23-Oct-09 16:01

The advance of technology changes society. Interestingly people seemed to be happier 30 years ago. No mobile phones. No internet.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Jan » 23-Oct-09 16:44

Interestingly, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution (17th November 1989) here in the Czech Republic this year. So, if you ask me how the things have changed during last 20 or 30 years here, I will definitely say - the things are much better now. We've overthrown the communist dictatorship with its centrally planned economy and "Russian colonialism", and we've built a relatively free, democratic and "capitalist" (in a good sense) society. We've joined the free western nations in the NATO (1999) and the EU (2004).

On the other hand, I feel a growing disillusion of many people here too. Actually, many habits and "social patterns" were transferred from socialism to these days, even across generations, so we still have a high rate of corruption here, justice and police are dependent on politics, there exists organised crime connected with politics too, political scene is highly unstable, we are still terribly dependent on Russia in terms of natural resources, etc. The economy and political institutions are still not working as they should - and as they did in the times of pre-war Czechoslovakia (1918 - 1938) when our country was one of the most developed and democratic countries in the World.

But, as the optimists say, restoring democracy takes the same time as destroying it - and we lived in communism for 40 years (1948 - 1989), so we have other 20 years (1989 - 2009 - 2029) ahead.

We still look at the "anglo-saxon" countries as on "ideal examples" of democracy. I know that not all things are developing well in the UK (the Big Brother is watching you more and more, the "Politics of fear" are stronger and stronger), but you still live in one of the most democratic and developed countries in the World - you in the UK!

And, I should say, we all in the EU live in the happier part of the World! Thanks God we were born here!

So - I know that many things are wrong, but I believe it can be improved or "repaired". So, yeah, I'm still complaining too (I'm Czech, after all... we always complain and nag, with a glass of beer in our hands), but I'm generally an optimist. :)

EDIT: And, yes, our current president (Vaclav Klaus) is a complete idiot and asshole. :(
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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by sucinum » 23-Oct-09 22:14

I don't believe in "everything used to be better". People always struggled and had problems. We might look back and think "i wish i had such easy problems", but out view is distorted because we have the solution to those problems now.

The only modern phenomenom I can relate to is being generally overwhelmed. Nowadays, you have access to so many knowledge, entertainment and other opportunities of any kind, that you simply can't even track all of them. Every door you open shuts 100 others. This makes you feel small and underachieving and can even paralize. A human nowadays feels less unique and less important, because he exactly knows there billions of others and he is only a small wheel. Many people don't even know exactly what they do at their daily job and how it relates to their corporate's business - and you can't blame them, it's just overly complex. And this will grow on and on, in another 30-50 years people will look back and say "everything was quite simple back then".

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Trantor » 24-Oct-09 15:17

There are good and bad things happening - always. Looking back and saying "everything used to be much better" is often an emotional feeling of nostalgia. I dislike the feeling of living in a surveillance state more and more (though from what I know, the UK und the US are much worse in that regard than Germany), and I dislike the whole society revolving more and more around economy and the question "how much money can I press out of other people?". But was it really better 20 years ago? I don't really know, I was only 11 back then and had a very different perspective on life in general. It certainly wasn't so easy to obtain information (no internet), and the lives of people in general are more comfortable today. The Wall fell 20 years ago, and I belong to the 70-something percent of the Germans that is glad that it did. I'm glad I don't have to live with the constant fear that World War 3 is breaking out in my country (or even in my city, considering I now live in Berlin).

Basically, I don't think you can simply judge these things as "good" or "bad". Life and its circumstances keep changing, some for the better, some for the worse. But in the end, you will always have problems, good and bad moments, no matter which time or place you were born in. This is the way humans are. Personally, I'm happy about the time and space I was born in and wouldn't to change.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by PaulH » 24-Oct-09 16:09

I always love watching the documentaries on tribes in Africa and South America. Many of them lead the most simplistic of lives, yet they all seem happy. Same as the nomads in Asia.

It seems when we introduce a slice of the modern world then problems start to occur. We give them a generator and power tools to make their lives easier and then they rely on it. They build around it. Then it breaks, and they have a major problem.

Of course this is a simplistic example, but happiness is rather subjective, and modern solutions can create many different sorts of problems. Of course medical advances mean we all live longer, the standard of lives has increased for many people, but sometimes I think it would be great to go to a desert island without the modern world, internet because then you can't get stressed about it. You don't miss what you don't have.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Gambit37 » 24-Oct-09 16:54

I didn't make the comment that "things were better years ago". I asked how people feel about society now compared to 20 or 30 years ago -- whether better or worse. I was careful to ask it that way to elicit the kinds of responses by Jan in countries I don't know much about.

My concerns these days aren't necessarily the things that are on the news. Sure, we're in economic global meltdown and that's definitely an issue, but I'm bothered about how people are changing. I'm no longer a very sociable person and I don't especially like that -- I noticed it last week when my family got together for my second-eldest brother's 50th birthday. It was the first time we were all together for years, and I felt like I didn't know them at all. I felt very isolated. That's partly my fault, and partly theirs -- we've never been especially close and we don't make huge efforts to keep in touch with each other. Despite technology making it easier and easier to keep in touch, I think it's also driving people apart. I think we're losing the ability to relate to people on a one-to-one basis by becoming more isolated behind our technology.

That said, the younger generation who are growing up with Facebook as part of their lives, do seem to be closer and more open together than when I was a kid. I can't tell yet if that's really the case.

There was a 3 part programme on in the UK recently called Electric Dreams. It followed an average middle-class family who were stripped of their modern technology and had to live as they would have in the 70s, 80s and 90s. For ten days they lived in the 70s, with each day equating to one year. They received only the tech that would have been available at the time. Same for the 80s and 90s. Their whole house was gutted and re-styled each time to match how it would have been back in the day. The overall outcome suggested that we had more time for each other on a one-to-one basis in the 70s and that in the 00's, we now spend a lot more time on our own consuming/interacting with technology and limiting our contact with others.

But of course, there are big benefits too -- the kids for example were itching to get internet access through the whole experiment and when they finally did towards the end of the 90s, they thought it was junk (too slow, not many services). Modern internet services are changing the way we interact and gives is immediate access to a wealth of info, which is surely a great thing, but is it dominating our lives?

Although my original question was about society in general, this response has focussed on my current concerns with technology; in particular how I've let it control me for a long time at the expense of my relationships. When I did those interviews of FTL staff all those years ago, Mike Newton said something interesting, which really resonated with me:
When I graduated from UCSD, I initially decided to go off and do a PhD in Computer Science. I only lasted a year in that before I decided that I had misspent too many years down that narrow path, and that I really wanted to invest my energy and imagination in the Arts and Humanities. So I moved off to Scotland and did a PhD in Celtic Studies. It's pretty crazy now that I look back on it, especially as there is virtually no money in it. However, I have managed to produce articles and books on the subject, and do feel very committed to Scottish Gaelic culture, and to the plight of minority languages and cultures in general. They are far more important, and more sustainable and sustaining, in the long run, than anything we can create with technology.
I think he's right. The march of progress in technology has certainly brought us some wonderful things, but at what cost? This is something I'm thinking a lot about recently, in particular while thinking about my future and if I want to continue down the route of having my primary income generated by sitting behind a screen for 8-10 hours a day. I've wasted a lot of my life in front of screen and I don't think that's very valuable any more.

Anyway, there's plenty more discussion here, this is just one aspect I'm interested in.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Des » 24-Oct-09 22:31

When I was born the UK still had the death penalty. Ethnic minorities were routinely persecuted. Women did not have equal employment rights. Homosexuality was a crime. Cancer survival rates were very low. Life expectancy was lower, infant mortality higher, road deaths much higher, pollution much worse particularly in cities. Oh and the world almost ended in a nuclear holocaust.

I could go on and on about how almost everything is better today, but I can't deny that people did have a lot of fun in the sixties :-)

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Gambit37 » 24-Oct-09 23:13

Heh, yeah, I wish I'd been born 20 years earlier so I could have enjoyed the 60s as a teenager :-)

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Jan » 25-Oct-09 08:05

I've read an interesting article by one sociologist about how the society (I mean relations - not only sexual, but generally relations between people) changed after the HIV / AIDS danger was revealed. Unfortunately, I'm too young to be able to compare it before and after. But I do agree with that sociologist that one important reason why the 60s were what they were was the fact that there was nothing like HIV / AIDS.

According to another scientist, an interesting "indicator" of social changes is what cars people like to drive. 20 years ago, a convertible was an ideal - and we connect America and it's freedom and opportunities with convertibles (bright colours - red, yellow, light blue, etc.). Now, it's a dark huge SUV or off-road with dark glasses and windscreens - huge, strong and "safe". It shows, how the once "open" society "closed" and "atomised", the people tend to "hide" in their cars and don't want to be seen.
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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Gambit37 » 26-Oct-09 13:50

To give you some idea of the things that I'm concerned about, here's a great example:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8277378.stm

While I agree it's right that we need a way of protecting children, our current law has gone too far the other way and it shows how the government are undermining families and communities at every turn. It's completely absurd. "Protectionist" rules and and over concern for the rights of the individual have actually become a barrier to properly functioning communities.

Here's another example. My mum is mentally ill and has been in the system for well over 30 years. She's been sectioned several times and for long periods of her life has been on medication that have allowed her mania to be managed and given her a quality of life that she wouldn't have otherwise had. This worked fine in the 80s and early 90s. In the mide 90s some crazy nutcase doctor discharged her and now, because the system has changed, it's virtually impossible to get her back onto the medication that would improve her situation. Why? Because we can no longer force medication on people due to their "rights."

It's completely crazy that the rights of the individual now seem to go against them -- if you know that you can improve someone's situation through a particular care method, wouldn't you rather do that than simply let them suffer, because it's against their rights? My mum isn't rational, she can't make decisions for herself, yet the system is now too cowardly to make decisions on her behalf.

And don't get me started that Mental Health seem to have no records for her beyond 2008.... they are supposed to keep them for at least 20 years. Talk about incompetent!

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Bit » 26-Oct-09 15:09

Civilization goes down. This is not a joke, just open your eyes.
And the younger generation is unpolitical but respectless and violent.
Why should they behave - do they have a future?
I could point on a thousands things 24/7. But - who cares?

Just a very brief explanation why I think so:
Every company tries to safe money - so they buy machines and kick workers. Forgetting that people need money to buy their products. This hardens the market more and more and speeds up the process.
Governments now get no taxes anymore - and they have to safe their money too, because more and more people needs social security - but they can't pay. Together with this comes 'social globalization' - that means that people don't want to starve in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia anymore. More and more travel to europe - and there the dream ends - but they are trained in 'organization' and give a damn to laws. Forcing those societies to act the same way. There we go. Government then can't keep order anymore - and their economic problem don't allow them to care for people anymore - all is expressed in money. So - old or sick - so: useless and untrickable (or should I say unslavable) means - ... exactly!
2020 - soylent green!

Technical progress doesn't save us from unresponsible and irrational economical misbehaviour. Economs handle mathematics wrong! And then - there would be an easy solution for all of this:
Each machine has to pay the money for the people that it replaces, so the boss can decide either to have a fast and exact machine, for flexible humans.
And thinking has to be adjusted. Which so-called developed land says: Hey, our work is made by machines, we enjoy our lives telling stories on green meadows, we already have five million non-working people! In five years, we gonna have 10 millions! Isn't that what humans did fight for and died for with blood sweat and tears? They built the tools, and the processes, and the machines, and did automate the things - NOW LET US ENJOY THAT AND THINK ABOUT A BRANDNEW ECONOMIC THAT ALLOWS IT! (and not just helps some superriches and some politicians being paid by them and adjusting the rules to their needs).

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by MasterWuuf » 26-Oct-09 17:37

Quote from oh_brother: Edit: Also, 30 years ago we did not have Dungeon Master. :wink:

When I bought Dungeon Master for
SpoilerShow
ME
my Atari ST,
SpoilerShow
IN THE BEGINNING :lol: ,
I had at least one friend tell me I was basically 'serving satan' by owning
SpoilerShow
ONE OF THE GREATEST GAMES EVER MADE
it (DM).

I live in the United States of America.

I've noticed the states aren't always that united, but there still remains a great deal of national pride.
Things have tightened up financially, to a point, but people seem to have more
SpoilerShow
things
money than 20-30 years ago.
I like that, since the ability to pay your bills usually makes a happier situation.
Money, and THINGS, aren't bad. An 'all consuming' aspiration to 'have more' is the trap that a person has to evade.

The political spectrum hasn't changed all that much, in my opinion.
Left is left, Right is right, and those 'in the middle' have just gotten better at hiding the fact from those around them.
(No surprise there, since practice makes perfect. :|)

Religion, in the United States, has changed quite a bit in the last 20-30 years.
There are still a number of
SpoilerShow
SCREAM UNTIL YOU ALL HEAR AND REEEEEPENT!
folks on the TV and radio.
But the thing that seems to have changed the most, is the 'gray area' band.
Those who used to 'choose' not to make hasty judgments, now seem to judge those who DO make hasty judgments.
(I keep thinking, "Don't they realize they are making even STRONGER judgments themselves?")
I have friends from every side of religious (or non-religious) belief.
I haven't changed what I believe to be right, and my friends know it, yet my 'friendships' remains strong.
This 'it doesn't matter what you believe' attitude in the American culture,
in my opinion, has made our society WORSE than it was 20-30 years ago, in spite of a lessening in open disagreement.

One other thing I've noticed...

There seems to be a large number of those living outside the United States,
who sound as if they would almost 'enjoy' seeing our nation fall on its face.
I keep thinking, "Don't they realize that would hurt my family, as well? I thought these guys/gals were my friends???"

P.S. Internet? DM? This FORUM? Great modes and reasons for communication.
These things have been used to develop real friendships across societal borders, which in turn should benefit ALL of our societies.
People seem to forget that societies are made up of individuals.

If people can share thoughts on things that develop communal bonds (things
SpoilerShow
like DM
of mutual interest,
they can usually hear one another better in the more difficult areas.
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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by T0Mi » 27-Oct-09 09:10

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, nevermind. You will not understand the power and
beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 (or 30) years, you'll look back at photos
of yourself, and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you, and how
fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an
algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at four PM on some idle tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind.
The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you recieve, forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you dont know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people
I know didn't know at twenty-two what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most
interesting fourty year olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't.
Maybe you'll divorce at fourty, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your
seventy-fifth wedding annivesary.

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either,
your choices are half chance. So are everybody elses.

Enjoy your body. Use it everyway you can, don't be afraid of it or what other people think of it.
Its the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your living-room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings.
They're your best link to your past, and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you
need the people who you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in Northern California once, but, leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia.
Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts
and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Good advice. Trust is a thing we must only become. We know not ourselves, or our own situations,
but only those things which befall us, or become readily apparent. Really, we must keep to our own
business, and in the end, we must trust those we love.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
stolen, but not yet taken. :-)

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by oh_brother » 27-Oct-09 16:01

Gambit37 wrote: There was a 3 part programme on in the UK recently called Electric Dreams.
I saw the 70s episode of that show and I was left with the same impression. People did have more time for interacting with each other.

I have to say though added on to this fact is the fact that we are not kids any more. When I was younger, actually up until I finished university, so much of my time was spent with my friends. Now I find that I see my friends less and less often. Everyone is just very busy, and casual "hanging out" is slowly disappearing. You spend time with your workmates and whoever you live with (if anyone). And when you want to meet other people you have to plan it in advance. So for me growing up is a far bigger destroyer of many social interactions than technology. I spend many hours in front of a computer for work too, but I don't know if it would be very different doing another job. Unless you had very fun work-mates, or you interacted meaningfully with the public or something.
MasterWuuf wrote:I had at least one friend tell me I was basically 'serving satan' by owning
SpoilerShow
ONE OF THE GREATEST GAMES EVER MADE
it (DM).
A friend's mum had the same idea, and this guy had to hide all his fantasy books/computer games/table-top games from her. Eventually she found them and burned them all. Very sad, the woman was mentally ill and thought she was saving my friend from hell.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Jan » 27-Oct-09 16:42

To return to the Gambit's topic: Czech Republic is definitely not as much "surveillance state" as the UK... at least not yet. It's more "free" and less "paternalistic" and "paranoic" and the "Big Brother" is weaker here - but it's not more democratic, because freedom here means also chaos and corruption and underdevelopment. But I know some Britons and Americans (intellectuals, artists, etc.) who moved to the Czech Republic claiming they have more freedom and inspiration here than in their countries - and many of them are really satisfied here, after many years (heh, maybe because most of them stay in Prague for the whole time).

So it seems a Catch-22 - many people in developed Western countries want more freedom and less surveillance state, and people in underdeveloped countries have only one big dream - moving into a rich western country and making a lot of money and getting everything they want. People are never satisfied... Czechs really want to reach the economic levels of the Western welfare states - but would it also mean less freedom in the sense of "surveillance state"?

If I could move to any country of the World, I would definitely choose Slovenia - I know it, and I love it. It's really an excellent compromise between economic development (almost like Austria or Switzerland), but with extremely open and friendly people and excellent and creative atmosphere - a true "hybrid" (in positive sense) between Western economic development and Southern (South European) atmosphere.
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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Sophia » 27-Oct-09 19:08

Maybe I'm less optimistic than you. :P
MasterWuuf wrote:Things have tightened up financially, to a point, but people seem to have more money than 20-30 years ago.
Actually, real wages have pretty much flatlined or gone down, depending on what charts you want to look at and how far back you want to go.
MasterWuuf wrote:The political spectrum hasn't changed all that much, in my opinion.
Left is left, Right is right, and those 'in the middle' have just gotten better at hiding the fact from those around them.
If they hide it, it's probably because the political system is so stupidly polarized that in order to get anything done, you have to pretend to love one of the parties and hate the other-- unless someone says the magic word "bipartisan cooperation" or something. Personally I think the left has gotten dumber and the right has gotten meaner, but they were already pretty dumb and pretty mean respectively. Except during the Bush administration, when the left was mean and the right was dumb. Oh well.
MasterWuuf wrote:Religion, in the United States, has changed quite a bit in the last 20-30 years.
It really irritates me when creationists try to subvert science education in the public schools, which are in bad enough shape already. I don't know if they were trying to do this 20 years ago, too, or if I just wasn't paying attention, because I was so much younger.
MasterWuuf wrote:These things have been used to develop real friendships across societal borders, which in turn should benefit ALL of our societies.
People seem to forget that societies are made up of individuals.
Well yes, that's a good point, but I have also noticed that "people" as a whole are stupid no matter how smart individuals can be.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Gambit37 » 27-Oct-09 19:20

He he. Sophia's last comment reminds me of the saying: "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups."

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Trantor » 27-Oct-09 19:23

So many quotables in there... again. That last part was also used (slightly differently) in Men in Black, spoken by Tommy Lee Jones. A very wise observation indeed.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Jan » 27-Oct-09 19:28

"The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter." (Sir Winston Churchill) :D
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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by MasterWuuf » 28-Oct-09 04:33

Jan wrote:"The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter." (Sir Winston Churchill) :D
Now THERE is a quotable quote. :wink:
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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Adamo » 30-Oct-09 01:01

"is the society better or worse than before"...

I was often thinking about that and I have to say I don`t have a good answer. Generally I think the society as a whole stays the same; it`s only the technology and the enviroment that changes. From every decade to another the life expectancy is getting higher, new technologies makes our life easier, the internet and cellphones conquere the society etc, but I don`t really think that people`s behaviour changed much.

I assume the Gambit`s question matched british society. Is there more or less pathologies than it was 20 years ago? I`m not sure if there`s really more. There had always been a mess in UK (not as it wasn`t in Poland - I just like brits, so I`m interested in UK`s history). Despite that, UK is one of the most succesfull and progressing societies in the world: people strongly believes in a law and goverment, everything works fine (well, maybe except the health care system ;) ) and the crime rate is generally moderate. As for Poland, thing definitely changed for good! Of course, there`s still some nostalgic thoughts - but people everywhere always used to say that "it was better before". 20 or 30 years before we were living in a kind of a vegetation, but we were somehow happy (not much in our lifes really did rely on us, so we didn`t care much of anything; I would call it a "hopeless happiness"). Is there more pathology than before? Some things changed for good, some for worse. There are definitely more crimes, but I think people are more responsible than before. People drink much less alcohol than before (though Poland is still one of the infamous world`s leaders), but drugs are getting more and more popular among young. Way back there was no unemployment, now there`s high rate, but I think people are generally happier with their jobs (I mean they work with pleasure, at least most of them; it wasn`t like that before). And if there`s no job here, we can always invade the UK ;) . As everywhere in the world, the family relationships are getting weaker; but on the other side, more people care what happens around them (more people take part in local NGO organizations). People spend less time with their friends, but more time on internet (and that`s not good; I know at least one person that is addicted of massive RPG games). The worst thing is that parents spends less time with their kids that it was, say, 30 years ago; but they don`t shout and bite them as before. There are lot more divorces; but I think that`s OK when people don`t want to live with a pathological partner; I think the amount of pathologies in families 30 years ago were the same as now, but people simple didn`t divorce. Technological progress is definitely good. Take as usual thing as a washing-machine. You just put your dirty clothes in and put out clean. 100 years ago you would have to loose your time to wash them personally or pay someone to do that.

30 years ago there was no Internet; now it`s becoming more popular. OK, 90% of people that surfs through the net looks for the adult materials and bull@#$%, but on the other hand, it helps to easily exchange the informations in a scientists groups, for example.
The ways of spending our free time changes; sociologists claims, that people read less books and newspapers that before (I even heard the TV is becoming less popular!) and that`s bad. But I don`t think that`s really a big deal - there were always a definite minority that read books; most people used to watch tv or drink beer.
More people study (in Poland it`s about 5 times more in the whole society than it was 20 years ago!!!!!!). But then again the level of the education is rapidly getting low.

Is the world going in a good direction? Depends which part we`re talking about. Despite all the pathologies, Poland is technologically and mentally developing. The society is much more civilized that before. But much more atomized either. But then again people care much what is going over them. As for other countries - some are developing, some don`t, some are moving back. But generally, things are getting better. Because of the globalization everything in macroeconomy is connected; when China growns, they export more cheap goods, so poor people in Africa can at least effort for the usual goods like shoes or pencils. Extremally high unemployment rate in Poland caused mass imigration to UK; we took a lot of jobs that Brits could get. But because of low pays (which are still very high for us), british economy is developing faster (low pays means less costs); that`s the same situation as in the US (a lot of poor Mexicans gets low paid jobs and the economy is developing because of the cheap work power). 30 years ago countries were rather closed to themselves!
In my opinion globalization is very good for the world.

Are you mad for the whole british society, Gambit? Don`t worry, me too. For a long time I used to think that my country is crap and people here are not worth to trust. But people are different and it was always like that. I believed that although there are a lot of treasons (unfaithfulnesses) in Poland and people here are not worth to trust, the situation in Germany is completely different (no treasons and totally trustworth people). But it`s not - Germans are as bad as Poles and there`s no need to worry about that.
There are no perfect societies.
But, generally, I think the mentality of societies (at least in the west) started changing from the decade of 50`s.
The world is constantly changing - some aspects for good, some for bad. What can we do? At least there`s some progress so we don`t stand in one place, at is was before (in the past centuries).
OK, there`s one thing I can`t deny; people are getting generally more egoistic (because families were much bigger that before and typical kid had more brothers and sisters and more relatives?).. it wasn`t like that before. But maybe it`s just a sweet ilusion that "it was better in a past".

OK, one thing got much worse; american movies were much better in 70`s than after that decade! As I see from the older movies, the 70`s decade in US had a really "magic" climate that got lost forever :)


Really sorry for my english!!!
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Jan
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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by Jan » 3-Nov-09 16:06

Slightly OT: Our extremely silly president has just - after years of obstructions - signed the Lisbon Treaty of the EU, so it's finally ratified by all member states. Phew! It's a great relief for most Czechs! :)

Most of us were really afraid that we would destroy the whole process and look like complete idiots... I mean... look like even bigger idiots than normally. Now, we can just continue pretending being quite normal! :) *whistles*
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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by oh_brother » 3-Nov-09 17:02

I felt the same when the referendum was passed in Ireland...I did not want the country to be blamed for destroying the future of the EU!

To link back to the main topic the EU has made a huge difference to the lives of Europeans over the last 20-30 years. And in my opinion most of those changes have been very positive, and have helped Europe to integrate culturally and develop economically. Especially the free movement of people and free trade. Admittedly it can be a very clumsy organisation, and can have a tendency towards the "protectionist" rules that Gambit mentioned earlier. But for all that it is a very good and very successful attempt to bring a continent together.

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by cowsmanaut » 20-Nov-09 02:39

wow, the things you miss when you are away.. I decided to pop in quickly today to see what was happening :)

as to my feeling on this topic. I'd have to say perception is a big part of it all. There were still perverts trying to snatch up children 20 years ago. There were still teens killing teens 20 years ago. They were still using drugs of all kinds 20 years ago... and there were still every other perversity known to man 20 years ago. The differences was in how they display themselves.. the perverts now use the internet, teens now using drive by uzi's instead of a pisol or knife, some of the drugs have changed names but still kill or destroy lives.. etc etc.

The government is often still out for themselves instead of the people..

There hasn't been a moment in the world where there has not been war *somewhere*.. so have things changed.. yes.. have they gotten better or worse..? I'm not convinced of either.


On thing I noticed here in BC is the bad element of beatings, drugs and rapes move around from area to area.. the thing is they can't extinguish it.. all they do is push it out to somewhere else. They even went so far as to burn down a few houses "accidentally" and then buy the land to build expensive condo's in a few low rent areas.. in order to remove the "bad element".. and as I said, it just moves over a bit.. but it's still around. Take a history lesson from that.. how often did kinds try to stamp out the theives dens only to find they go underground or into the woods? :P

What I do notice though when I think about it, is that my perception and awareness increase as time goes. Internet, and news is now more global and more obvious. I no longer live at home but out on my own and more aware of my environment. and as I said.. that bad element moves around.. sometimes into my own neighbourhood. All of that alters how you see things.

moo

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Re: Society better or worse than 20 or 30 years ago?

Post by MitchB1990 » 20-Dec-09 00:58

Society never has and never will change, there will always be conflict of ideas and ideologies. Sure the technology and how we perceive humanity and society have changed drastically. But in the long run it doesn't matter because people, and humanity as a whole, will not change. I'm just waiting for the day when the nukes start flying so we can end our trivial existence.
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