October 19th, 2013

green leaves

This changing world

Here's something I posted to a conservative discussion where sympathy was offered to boomers and older people for being very sad about the moral decline of America. My post got very little attention, possibly because it was quite long and posted late in the discussion, but probably because I'm wildly out of sync with the group.

I have no hope that it's complete, even about my own views.

Anyway, I thought I'd repost it here, with the some general questions. What major non-technological changes have you seen in your life-time? Do you think they've made things better or worse?

If you think things have gotten worse, could you be specific about how they're worse, rather than just saying that they're bad.


I was born in 1953.

I think the moral record has been mixed. We do suffer from a morale decline-- there's been a clear rise in pressure to not get anything wrong rather than respect for getting things right. I'd like to see a better balance, but I've never seen a good one.

One of worst things I've seen on the moral side was the financial collapse, and I'm not talking about too much kindness to poor people. I'm horrified that a lot of people in the financial industry were willing to sell bad mortgages as good, and that a fair number of people in business and government knew what was going wrong, but so many people with the power to make a difference were riding the boom that nothing got done to stop it.

Yes, there were people who should have known better about the mortgages they were signing, but banks used to be more careful about what they lent. I've seen a rise of "if it's legal, it's moral", and this is a disaster.

Another extremely bad thing-- possibly worse-- is Americans coming out in favor of torture. 9/11 made us crazy, though it's possible that Americans have always been in favor of torture, especially for interrogation, and 9/11 just made them more willing to admit it.

On the plus side, there's more decency to homosexuals, and sexual abuse (of women and children, though not yet of men) is taken more seriously. Treating pedophile priests as criminals is clear moral progress, and part of the credit goes to the sexual revolution-- if you can't talk about sex in public, you can't talk about sexual abuse.

On the minus side, there's more acceptance of public cruelty. I remember a newsgroup I was fond of (this was in the nineties) wrecked by a troll-- but there were no rape threats or death threats. In fact, there was a convention that the one thing you must not do is wish someone dead. The online culture has come to include much more nastiness.

More minus-- there's more cruelty to fat people, and it kicks in at lower fat percentages. I can remember when adults didn't exercise voluntarily unless they were very eccentric. This was probably overdoing it, but I can remember when eating and exercise disorders were at least very rare.

Plus side-- more acceptance of smart people. I can remember when being intelligent was not properly feminine *or* masculine, and since everyone was supposed to be M or F, being smart wasn't welcome. This changed (to a large extent) when it became clear that it was possible to make a lot of money by being smart with computers.

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