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starlight

Are we happier than our ancestors?

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It's widely studied phenomenon in sociology and there seems a consensus that shifts to modern urbanisaton have been tremendously painful for every society that goes through it. But does unhappiness subside after the process has saturated? Few societies have seen a total shift so it would be premature, imo, to make a general claim. 

But speaking of happiness or satisfaction modern amenities bring us, I'd say the bar is constantly raised upwards which means it's becoming harder and harder to retain the level of happiness of before. The shorter your list of wants the easier it is to achieve happiness and vice versa. Modernity has made us seek more things than we ever needed in the past. Today people feel less happy if they do not have the resources to replicate a certain level of modern lifestyle.

Edited by Marbles

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3 hours ago, starlight said:

Salam, 

Do you think people in this era are happier than people in the past? With the developments in science people now have longer life expectancy , technology has made obtaining information and keeping in touch with other people far more easier than it was in the past. 

Or has technology and information overload made our lives more stressful and hence less happier?

Pros and cons for both. 

Once upon a time I wished I could make unlimited calls back in my country of origin. And I would only dream of video calls. Now that all of that posible, I kind of miss the days when I would write letters. 

Now I want to see the day when we have lens installed in our eyes and a whole new virtual world to explore, not with a click of a button, but with a blink of an eye. It will be interesting but of course I will miss present days when a bit of effort is required to achieve lil tasks. 

As for information overload, yes it has led to stress and a whole lot of other issues. But we're good at evolving. We'll adjust. 

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2 hours ago, starlight said:

Salam, 

Do you think people in this era are happier than people in the past? 

 

Our happiness often depends on how well we are doing compared to others.

So a person of modest means today may well be far better off than someone wealthy living just 30 years ago. But it does not seem that good, because the wealthy today are so much better off and that's who the modest person will compare themselves to.

I guess the error is to measure success and derive happiness from material things.

Given how much these things can vary due to factors beyond our control, the only thing that makes sense to me is to derive happiness from worship because that's the only variable totally within our control and one which is constant regardless of the age we are born in.

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there have been many advances in technology and science but at what price?

the banking system is completely falling and we are on the brink of another great depression
imperial powers countries still haven't gave up their ambitions  but now they are using puppets and fighting proxy wars, to rule the world, turkey attacked(NATO) Russia and we are on the brink of World war 3 
slavery wasn't abolished but was altered now instead of chins around people necks there is consumerism which is pushed really hard to get people to spend money that they don't have on things they don't need 
the rat race is more competitive than ever and now it's 10 times harder to start a family, that's why fertility rate is falling and some ethnicities are going to be minorities by the year 2050 and  that's why fascism is on the rise, another holocaust might happen, Muslims holocaust

should we be
happier than our ancestors?

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2 hours ago, Abbas. said:

Pros and cons for both. 

Once upon a time I wished I could make unlimited calls back in my country of origin. And I would only dream of video calls. Now that all of that posible, I kind of miss the days when I would write letters. 

So, could it be a case of grass being greener on the other side?

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2 hours ago, starlight said:

So, could it be a case of grass being greener on the other side?

Depends on our attitude. 

When I say that I miss good old days, I mean celebrating good memories of the past. Of course it doesn't mean I am regretting having to subscribe to modern development. 

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Its a pretty well proven fact that we are living longer than any other time in history, we can have unlimited chilled fresh clean water pumped directly to our houses, electricity/ sanitation/ internal plumbing is almost global, we are healthier than any other time in history, even with all the conflicts going on we are still living in the relatively safest period in mankinds history, women and minorities and the weak have rights, we are protected by police and civil laws, we can travel pretty much anywhere in the world, we have the most disposable income than any other people in any other time in history, we have the most advanced technology in history, we have the sum total of all of humanities knowledge in our pockets on machines that we use to text emoticons and look at pics of cats, we give the most charity than at any other time in history and the world is truly smaller than at any other point in history.

 

but salafi still exist...so its not all great

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No we're not. There was a time sports were played by the rules, Cars were made by people, and everyone was free and independent. Now we're slaves. Sports are rigged, and everything is made by robots. 

We don't even know how to survive on our own. What if there was no electricity or phones or anything? What if we had to grow our own food and make our own fires? Very few of us possess those skills. 

We've become a society full of spoiled snobs who complain and moan about every little thing. 

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not even 50 years ago polio was wiping out entire generations, when was the last time you ever saw a polio sufferer?

not 100 years ago if there was a natural disaster on the far corner of the earth, no one would even know about it. now we have help and support and material on the ground within literally minutes

there has not been a global war since the 1940s

we have long way to go, but we are truly living in the best time of all history (not counting Masumeen (as) obviously)

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There are good things and bad about every era, but I'd give up a heck of a lot to have the land back and the way it was, the fish and game back the way they were, no drugs or alcohol, no psychological trauma from boarding schools, jails, and dominant culture brutality, the language spoken by all, the culture lived by all, and the tribe never decimated. Would be worth it.

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Digital Ummah broham unless the majority of people in the world are enjoying these benefits, isn't lauding them as signs of a golden age just egoism? Much of the world's population is concentrated in places where the common man does NOT have such comforts. 

 

Can we do that for past epochs as well? Can we say every Ayrab was living like a king under the Bani Abbas because of Harun Rashid's opulent lifestyle?

 

With all the comforts available to the people in many places (not just super rich countries), there is still arguably a strong majority who have been unaffected by these changes.

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BroSki McBroDude Barader even the poorest areas of the world are better than the poorest areas of history - a single black rapper Akon brought electricity and light to literally millions of Africans for the first time, just on his own. this is an example of what humanity is capable of.

my point is - humanity is capable in this time, to reach out and change the world as we see fit (once we all rally behind a cause). in history we have to look at the scope of the average people/ the most powerful people to affect the lives of the poorest/ neediest. there is no doubt in my mind that, by this criteria, we are better off.

you are right that our comforts are not universal, but I like to believe we are slowly moving towards that, not away from that

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6 minutes ago, baradar_jackson said:

Also, since when were the masumeen's times good? Is it a good thing that imams get poisoned left and right? Is it a good thing that people preferred tyrants and crooks over the imams? 

I guess personally innit? being around them physically must have been AWESOME so long as you werent being opressed by some zalim

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2 hours ago, DigitalUmmah said:

not even 50 years ago polio was wiping out entire generations, when was the last time you ever saw a polio sufferer?

not 100 years ago if there was a natural disaster on the far corner of the earth, no one would even know about it. now we have help and support and material on the ground within literally minutes

there has not been a global war since the 1940s

we have long way to go, but we are truly living in the best time of all history (not counting Masumeen (as) obviously)

Dude are you high? 

I want some of what you're smoking.

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Some time ago I read a research that having a window with real plants or greenery outside helps the person in the room to feel calm and less stressed while if the window is a screen or LED with greenery view, or artificial plants outside then there is no effect at all. Nature cant be replaced, similarly it is important to have real human connections in life. 

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Happiness is contentment within one's respective era, so its all relative.

Have new technologies and developments made people happier, or has it just shifted the spectrum of the discussion of what "happiness" means? Here are examples of modern day things mostly lacking in previous generations, but where's the proof ANY of these things have increased subjective/objective happiness?

1. Increased consumer options (endless brands, varieties, customization, configurations) of goods and services

2. Improved and expanded telecommunications and transporation

3. Opportunities for virtual escapism

4. Overwhelming, saturated 24/7 entertainment industry, news bulletins, and access to information

5. Increased life expectancy and longevity

And many more...

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There was no ISIS, Boko Haram, or any terrorist groups killing whole families back then as there are now. Even if there was terrorism back then, it def wasn't as global and widespread as it is today. I'd rather a people or generations of people die by polio than be witness to the massive destruction of whole regions by these groups as we see happening today. 

Today if there is a natural disaster somewhere, sure a lot of people would know about it but do you really think the money you or I give to help relief efforts goes to help the actual people in need? Or does it go into the pockets of the dictators? Yemen is being bombed to smithereens by Saudi Arabia and they maintain a blockade on anything that goes in or out. They control the entry and exits. Do you think I should trust the UN, US, or Saudis with my money and believe what they say? What about Haiti? Somalia? Back then sure news about disasters wasn't as spread as quickly as it is today but there was atleast a bit of humanity in people including in governments and organizations put in charge to make sure things go where they're supposed to go. 

Global wars lol, I guess that depends on ones definition. The silent wars over those years have killed alot more people than WW2 Id imagine if actual figures were taken into account. Some governments don't even give correct data now a days lool. A nation may lose 300 soldiers or people but they'll increase or reduce that number greatly depending on the publics perception haha. 

There is many videos on YouTube showing Bagdad, Basra, Jerusalem, Damascus in the time period of our ancestors. those cities used to be filled with such diversity and coexistence. There was no religious conflicts nor were there any sectarian differences. It's everyone just walking and playing peacefully. Their faces full of happiness. Simple times. Nowadays everyone's in a hurry, wars are everywhere, people just in general seem stressed all the time. There's not much to be happy about. 

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Definitely, for me, this is the best era. We live in the era of information and knowledge, we have the past documented, and a future to project ourselves in it.

This doesn't mean we don't live in a disgusting, unfair, decadent, miserable and criminal world in many aspects. But it had always been like this one way or another. Now, the solution for such disgusting aspects of humanity is by far knowledge and the communication of that knowledge. And we live in the best era to do so.

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the idea that we live in the worst of times/ the past was better is actually a really common psychological mistake that many many people fall for. 

possible reasons why people think the past was better:

- they were younger, so life was simpler/ happier for them. in their minds this means that the whole world was simpler/ happier
- escapism from their current lifes problems by fantasising about a past without these problems
- lack of understanding that historic accounts are pretty much always biased
- modern education systems not teaching anything about the...grittier...parts of history (rape of nanking or unit 731, anyone?)
- Increased media coverage means that we are more informed about world events, not that more negative events occur
- lack of perspective. modern day problems like global terrorism affect 1000s/ 10s of 1000s of people out of 7 Billion+ on earth every year. in WWII 50 Million+ people perished. the spanish flu soon after WWII killed 19 Million people over a few months.

guys - the first man to fly a plane was alive at the same time as the first man to walk on the moon. think about the enormity of that! 

I am not saying that the whole world is perfect, but we need to appreciate how lucky we all are to be here at this time. complaining how rubbish everyone's life is, is denying the bounties of Allah upon us. not too long ago peoples idea of a rubbish life was watching their children starve to death or die from diseases that have been completely eradicated now or be forced to fight in battles they didnt care about or (if they were women) marry while still a child and die during childbirth or, you know, being a peasant, working down a mine before health and safety was a thing, or being a slave. 

 

 

 

Edited by DigitalUmmah

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1 hour ago, DigitalUmmah said:

the idea that we live in the worst of times/ the past was better is actually a really common psychological mistake that many many people fall for. 

Yes, the mindset that the past was better and the present is rotten has been with us since forever. Consider the quote below.

"The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for girls, they are forward, immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress."

It seems an old conservative uncle would say such things in 2015 right? But this is Socrates from 4th century BC!

Here is Hesiod from 8th century BC, a contemporary of Homer.

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint."

Edited by Marbles
Fixed

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Bro Digital Ummah,

I never said that present times are the worst times. But to say they are the best times, you have to bring some empirical evidence.

 

Firstly,  you need to successfully argue that all the advancements you mentioned are inherently beneficial on the individual or societal level.  (which is a subject of debate)

And then you have to show that such advancements are ubiquitous. (which they are not)

 

All in all, in my uneducated opinion, I think time periods are more similar than different. We always have the same problems. We had widespread poverty 3 thousand years ago and we have widespread poverty today. We had tyrannical governments 3 thousand years ago and we have them today. We had moral corruption 3 thousand years ago and we have them today.

 

 

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Barader moddate ziadi ast ke shoma ra nadideh am

 

my argument for us living in the best times in history is probably in the area of a hypothesis rather than a fact. I can tell you that the empirical evidence is:

- global efforts and advancements in disease control eradication and immunisation

we are the first society since the dawn of mankind to have completely eradicated diseases that have been around since the very beginning, an example of which is smallpox. epidemiology has advanced to the point where a world killer virus like ebola was contained so effectively that it became a joke. yes it killed thousands in africa, but look how specialists from all over the planet came together to help the people most affected. this is nothing to be taken for granted. can you tell me any other time in history, or any other society in hostory where literally the best scientists from every single corner of the world came together to help the poorest area of the world, on a scale similar to the ebola outbreak?

- the global poverty rate

statistics the world has been getting richer over the last 200 years - this is a fact. yes, there is still widespread poverty and suffering, but the poverty now is not the same as the poverty of the past, and on top of that the world is getting better each year. 

- Global charity

Regular people are giving more charity than at any other point in history statistics

I am not claiming that this is the perfect time or all benefits are ubiquitous, I am saying that by all metrics that can be measured, we are undoubtedly the highest scoring society since society began. 

can you think of any point in history, or any civilisation, where their world was better than our current world?

 

w

 

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I think it would be better if we look it in terms of mapping the measure of happiness in different times instead of pitting the present against the past in a simplistic binary of either/or. As many of you have highlighted it with good arguments, in some ways our world is much better than whatever used to be in the past but in other ways past had an advantage we have lost in the present times.

But speaking of happiness, as someone has pointed out, this in itself is a highly subjective measure that varies a great deal between individuals in the same age. One size can never fit all, not to mention the difference in perceptions and expectations that each age brings with it.

My grandfather died before seeing a computer and a mobile phone. I have both. I feel privileged. I feel unhappy when both of these two gadgets are taken away from me for longer periods of time. Does it mean, by projection, that my grandfather had been less happy because he could not have the pleasure of using any of those? Or, on the other hand, he did not have to wait 2 hours in a traffic jam. He must have been happy to walk out of his mansion into the fields on his white horse in a few minutes. Whereas so much of my time is wasted in a stupid sitting position with a damn steering wheel pressing down on my chest. Does it mean my grandfather was happier than I am? 

But yeah, he could afford two wives and five mutahs in need-based past times. Today in our want-based culture I can't afford one without breaking my bank. Heck, in this case I accept in a heartbeat that past was better and my grandfather happier than me :bravheart:

 

Edited by Marbles

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Happiness doesn't come from external situation, it comes from attitude. In any time and place where people are not terribly oppressed, they can be happy. Some people are capable of happiness under even the most difficult circumstances. It is people who dwell on what they don't have who tend to be unhappy and people who are thankful who tend to be happy.

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It depends on the person. A cow may feel happy standing in its own excreta to merrily eat fodder, a duck will feel happy only when in a pool of water. Technology, or advanced gadgetry to be more precise, can only add to our happiness. But its not your smart phone's fault that you receive disappointments over it, that the news from the other side of the world, "which could not be learned so fast a 100 years back", is similarly disapponting too.

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