Today’s Lesson: The world has never been better than it is now.
In 1950, there were planes, but flying was for the very wealthy or for people who really needed to fly somewhere. Even when I was growing up in the seventies, flying was expensive and only for special occasions–you dressed up for a flight as if you were going to church.
Most people, even in the seventies, but especially in the fifties, were born, grew up, and died within a 30-mile radius. There wasn’t even Google Earth to virtually visit Paris.
Imagine that. Imagine if all the input you had about religion, morals, ethics, education, art, literature, and culture all came from no further than the town in which you were born. What would your tiny social bubble have you believe? Blacks are less than Whites? Marriage is only between a man and woman? The Russians are coming? The South is still fighting?
What flight did for the world is the same as what the car did for the nation. It opened boundaries and provided access to food, knowledge, and worldviews that transformed society. It allowed scientists to collaborate, politicians to regularly meet in-person, and engineers to stretch both their imaginations and their set of tools and teams.
The internet is doing the same but it is odd because it works in both directions, expanding and contracting at the same time. Thanks to the internet, you can explore the world on a 3-D map and communicate with businesses and people in foreign territories at your leisure. You can stay in touch with family and friends no matter where their journeys take them.
However, you can also shut the world out, filtering your social circle so you only receive news you want, interact with people who believe what you believe, and hear only music you have heard before. You can close the world out and stereotype and spread animosity, unfettered, with people in “your” tribe, losing contact with the rest of the world. You can stagnate, sustaining the dry husk of your potential on a diet of rotting ideas and long-dead ideals.
The nostalgia of the past may seem alluring but, by definition, it is also a whitewashing of history and denial of reality.
Yet, for perhaps the first and only time ever, you can choose to live in 2015 or in 1950.
You know what I am going to say here, right?