2017, Psychology, Society

2017 was The Worst

2016 was The Worst Year. But somehow, 2017 was so much worse.

  • Today, fewer people live in poverty than ever before in recorded history: In 1820 more than 90% of the world lived in what we would consider material poverty. Now that number is under 10%.
  • Today, more people are literate than ever before in recorded history: 200 years ago, only the very rich and their minions (the same people who were not poor) were literate. Now, over 80% of the world is literate. Next time you are complaining about how “everyone” believes fake news, think about what people believed when they couldn’t read.
  • More human beings live to adulthood than ever before in recorded history: 200 years ago, nearly half of the world’s newborns died before age 5. Now, it’s only a few percent of the total number of new births who do not make it to five years of age.
  • Despite constant claims to the contrary, more people live in liberal democracies than at any previous time in history, save the turn of the most recent millennium (that’s a good thing). 200 years ago, most people lived in colonies and autocracies. Now, over 50% of the world’s population lives in societies that qualify as liberal (enforced constitution with individual liberties) and democratic (the people pick their leaders).


And yet, all over my social media feed, news and culture outlets I trust and my friends are telling me the world is awful yet again. It may be a little more restrained than in 2016, when the deaths of some really famous musicians and actors and the election of Trump created a flood of “2016 was The Worst” but it’s still prevalent this year, and it’s no less wrong.

So I ask you: stop living in your bubble and gain some fucking perspective; see the forest for the trees. Yes, the world has problems. Yes, one of those problems will pose a massive, massive problem to your children and their children. But, all things considered, it is better to be alive in 2017 than it was in any time in human history. So stop fucking telling me the world is awful. Be thankful you live in a society where you get a chance to live past 5, where you’re not going to die before age 30, where you can study whatever you want and do whatever you want for work, and where you have the world’s knowledge on your phone.

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