There are a lot of great things about the modern world, including instant communication, a wealth of amazing entertainment options, access (depending on your part of the world) to some of the best healthcare in history, and the ability to travel all over the world at incredible speeds that our ancestors would have found mind-boggling. However, all good things also have their downsides, and there are some negatives to our modern conveniences that we often don’t think too much about, sometimes because the modern convenience has hidden some past joys entirely from our view. In today’s article, we will go over 10 examples of this phenomenon.
10. An Unobstructed View Of The Night Sky
It used to be that most people could look up at the night sky and see an absolutely stunning vista. You could see a multitude of colored stars, and you could certainly imagine how your ancient ancestors could have once gazed up at that same sky, and imagined all the various powers that have been attributed to them in the past. Now, however, the modern world has largely taken that joy away from us. Due to light pollution, you often have to travel a good days drive from what some would call “civilization” in order to get a proper view of the night sky. Sometimes 50 miles or so can get you a decent view in one direction, but it is rarely going to get you a fully proper 360 degree view, unless you already live in an an area that’s relatively remote.
And even if you can get all the way to those few spots left, you will still have satellites, planes and other flying objects drifting through your view, and polluting the once pristine view of the night sky. While planes and all the city lights give us great convenience, there is an absolutely stunning view hiding right in plain sight, that most of us will live our entire lives never getting to see.
9. Leisurely, Peaceful Meals, With Time To Talk And Digest Our Food
Now, while some countries still take time to linger over meals for the sake of tradition (such as France and Greece), many other major powers such as the UK and the USA eat much quicker. An International Economic Study by the OECD Think Tank found that the United States spent about one hour total on average per day on meals, the UK only about one hour and 19 minutes, and the French, on average, spent two hours and 13 minutes on combined mealtimes, making them the most leisurely with their meals. The industrial revolution has made the world move incredibly fast, and people in many countries just find themselves spending less and less time eating food as the world becomes faster paced and they have to keep going quickly to survive.
It has been well established for some time that there is a strong link between weight gain and eating far too quickly, which is what makes this modern trend alarming. As people eat quicker and quicker in order to keep up with the fast paced modern world, they don’t take the time to properly digest their food, which makes it far easier to overeat. And of course, overeating is a huge contributor to obesity, and other serious weight gain related health problems.
8. Seeing A Phone Number We Don’t Recognize, And Not Being Afraid To Answer
Phone calls have certainly gotten more advanced over the years, and even most of the older generation tends to agree that advances like caller ID, voicemail, and the like were really good ideas that made things a lot better. However, all the same, it used to be a lot more normal to answer a phone call from a number you didn’t recognize, without actually expecting some kind of devilry. Unfortunately, telephone scams are numerous and make up a staggering percentage of calls, so much that the telecoms and the FCC are trying to work to find a way to bring an end to it, or at least cut it down in a large way in the short term.
Elderly people often get fooled by scam calls the most, but the scammers, trying to find someone to steal from, will target anyone they can get to answer the phone for a little while, and will try to trick important financial details out of people. Now, no one really wants to answer a number they don’t recognize, as they are almost expecting it to be a scam caller of some kind, and with text, Facebook messenger and Snapchat, people tend to just communicate through those mediums in some way or another, and don’t bother to talk for more than a few minutes. The days of people simply calling and having a chat, or being able to answer an unknown number without paranoia, are mostly gone.
7. The Ability To “Go Offline” For A While Without Severe Anxiety
It used to be that before the internet and smartphones changed the world, people had to talk to each other, read a book or engage their hands in something perhaps a little more productive. At the very least, when spending time with someone else, they generally had to do something with them and make conversation. Now, however, people will spend hours hanging out staring at their phones, occasionally showing the other person a funny meme and making sure their phone is charged at all times.
And it is certainly a useful tool to have, but it has become an entertainment crutch for many people for any sort of boredom, and has become such a part of us that many people now get anxious and upset if they don’t have their phone on them or have it charged. According to a study by researchers from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, roughly three quarters of young adults suffered anxiety like twitching, or even scratching when observed for research purposes without their smartphones.
6. Delayed Gratification Is Something A Lot Of Even Older People Are Forgetting
It used to be that you had to wait for certain times for your TV shows to be on, but now anyone can typically just binge their favorite shows without bothering to even wait for commercial breaks, which means even many of the older generation are forgetting the joy of delayed gratification. Across all generations, whether it is a self-scan at the grocery store or a second drive thru lane at McDonald’s, we are all being trained to hate waiting for more than a few seconds.
No matter what the generation, people in developed countries seem to have become less and less willing to wait for anything, and this likely isn’t good for any of us overall. The evidence for this goes back to the famous Marshmallow study, conducted by Stanford professor Walter Mischel in the 1960s. He offered children a marshmallow, but told them if they could wait while the researchers were out of the room, they would get a second marshmallow. As you can imagine, some of the children went ahead and just ate the marshmallow, while others resisted the temptation. After following them for 40 years, the numbers showed better success at SATs and the like, and less issues with stress and substance abuse, among those who had waited to gain that second marshmallow. This suggests that delayed gratification is a very useful tool for success in life.
5. Learning A New Hobby (And Impressing Our Friends And Feeling Super Cool About It)
While this isn’t something we have lost entirely, there is a certain magic that is definitely gone, due to the ubiquity of the internet. Before the ability for everyone in the world to instantly record and upload anything they do, it actually took some exploring and discovering to get the information you needed for a brand new hobby, and then, once you actually figured it all out — or at least the basics of it — you were usually the only one any of your friends knew who could do something quite like that, at least at first (if it doesn’t catch on with others around you).
However, now we really have lost that simple happiness, as people have become so incredibly jaded. It isn’t as hard to get into a new hobby anymore, as you can find a billion tips on the internet, easy starter kits for everything, and a ton of people who can do it a lot better than you. And of course, it’s right at the fingertips of your friends, too. While they may still be somewhat impressed to see someone do it live, and encourage you as their friend, it certainly won’t wow them as much when they can go online and immediately find someone who can do it a million times better than you can, who has been doing it for years. It also can make it hard to keep up with your hobby when it’s so easy to compare yourself to actual experts, and feel discouraged at how long it takes you to reach that level. The internet has sort of ruined us. (Except this site, of course — keep reading this site, guys!)
4. Being Able To Relax Away From Unnatural Or Industrial Noises
It really wasn’t that long ago, back before the industrial revolution, when we had a much more peaceful world (with regard to noise pollution and, well, regular pollution). There were no big factories belching smoke. You go back a little longer and we didn’t even have trains. No WiFi, constant radio communication, internet, or satellites, and no planes constantly flying overhead. All the sound pollution, both audible to the human ear and not, was almost entirely non-existent just a few hundred years ago, but now there is almost no escape from it. And while you have to go out of the way, you can get a mostly unobstructed view of the night sky if you travel far enough (although you will still see planes and such), but it is a much more difficult issue when it comes to noise.
Researchers who have tried to find any quiet spots on earth have only found spots that are temporarily quiet from unnatural sounds. No matter how far you go, at the very least, the occasional airplane will fly by and ruin the natural soundscape you were trying to enjoy. Planes may be convenient, but there are tens of thousands of flights every day, and the sound from them constantly soaring through the sky has made every corner of the globe a site for intermittent noise pollution.
3. Waking Up To Natural Circadian Rhythms Is An Almost Non-Existent Privilege
It used to be we just kind of went to bed and got up based on our natural alarm clock, but electronic aids now wake the world up. This is also kind of necessary now, because almost no one goes to bed shortly after sundown, or gets up at sunrise anymore. The privilege of simply going to bed like everyone else does, and knowing the whole world has pretty much the same schedule and will be waiting for you when you get up, is gone.
Now we go to bed at all sorts of weird hours, sometimes for only brief snatches, and many types of workers have schedules where shifts change throughout the week, leaving their poor bodies even more confused. On top of that, many are so trapped by social media, that even waking up for a brief moment, they have to check their feed — this kind of behavior is not good for our sleep patterns.
2. There Is Now No Escape From Shocking, Horrible And Grotesquely Sensational News
With the ubiquity of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, we now have access to news from any corner of the world at all times and a corresponding need to fill air space. While you’ll see the occasional positive human interest story, the news is mostly dominated by the worst of the worst, and because of such instant, worldwide, mass communication, no editor has any trouble filling their entire news block with a stream of horrific goings on.
No longer are the days when the news could simply only find so much negative to give you, and wasn’t going to be on 24 hours a day regardless, so at least you got a break. For some people this puts them in a quandary, as they feel as a responsible person they should keep up with the news, but it can be hard to filter out the important things from the constant horror. No matter how important you think it is to keep up with it, you may want to be careful about your consumption. Multiple replicated studies have found that people who viewed negative news broadcasts have more anxiety afterwards, and are more likely to start talking at length about things that worry them, and make them out in their heads to be something far bigger than they are.
1. The Constant Fear Of A Lawsuit Over Everything Has Left Us All On Edge
In the news over the past several years, we’ve seen a steady stream of stories about little kid’s lemonade stands getting shut down by city authorities, with the police sometimes literally coming in and tearing them down. And just recently, the State of Texas passed a law specifically aimed to not make it so impossible for children to run a simple lemonade stand. However, we have to understand that the reason behind the police taking down lemonade stands is not to be mean to children, but due to the way our modern world works. Today, it is not just the US legal system, but also American culture that has become extremely sue-happy.
State laws regarding licenses and permits, which these lemonade stands obviously don’t have, because they are run by children, require you to be inspected and get licensed, because it both protects the public safety, and protects the proprietor from lawsuits. Now of course some may consider it silly to sue a child, because if you get sick drinking lemonade from a child’s stand obviously you understand that you took the risk in your hands. However, if someone got sick, it could potentially open the child’s parent up to a lawsuit, and perhaps the city as well if it could be proven they were negligent in their duty to make sure roadside food stands are properly licensed and inspected for food safety. Whether it is a lemonade stand being smashed to bits by the police, or a parent freaking out at a neighborhood kid climbing their tree (over fear of them potentially falling), the lawsuit-happy culture of the modern world has left America on edge.