I think a lot of us have noticed this wave of people who keep saying things like, “the world is so much crazier today.” Or slightly different variations of that, but similar in meaning. Like, “politics are the craziest they’ve ever been.” Another one is, “it was so much simpler when I was younger.”
I’ve been thinking about these phrases a lot lately.
The other night I found myself hanging out in upstate New York. I was at a small restaurant, the kind that has four or five tables, not fancy or anything, but very dim lighting. I noticed a picture hanging on the wall. I don’t know why I noticed it, but I did. The picture showed a lady on a beach wrapped in a blanket. She was smiling. It was a black and white photo. Geez, it really did look like simpler times back then. Behind her was a sprawling row of sand dunes and on top of them sat two modest houses, spread out by a few hundred yards.
I could not stop thinking about that – only two houses on that beautiful beach? How? Where? This picture was clearly taken in another time, maybe 50 or 75 years ago. So of course there was an undiscovered beach like that. Not only was there less economic development, less infrastructure, less money invested, but the population was also less than half of what it is now and something like the iPhone was incomprehensible.
What I’m saying is that it really was simpler then and it really is crazier now. But, that makes perfect sense. Imagine giving 4 billion people the most powerful computing device ever invented, one that fits in their pocket, and then sending them off into a free country where almost anything is possible. That is literally what’s going on. The possibilities, good and bad, are endless.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the population in the US was about 205 million. While quite a few people had color TVs, an even smaller number of people had a computer. Most people at these times had phones, but these were rotary phones, those giant phones that attached to a wall. Some young people reading this today will have to research what a rotary phone is. That’s how far we’ve come.
In the 1930s, there were 122 million people living in America. No one had TVs and pretty much no one had a telephone.
Today, in America, there are nearly 330 million people. And everyone has a phone that’s more powerful and dynamic than any consumer electronic device ever built prior to it. As the population grows, as technology gets better, it will only get crazier. With more people and more technology the probabilities of something happening that’s even more outlandish than what happened before naturally increases. So to does the combination of the way they can happen and more importantly the way we hear and learn about it.
I wrote this post not to try to make excuses for some of the worst things that have happened over the last decade, but more-so as a way to understand that it should not be as mysterious or alarming as we make it. The craziness should be expected. Back in the day, Star Trek actually talked about a food device that created fake meat. While watching Beyond Meat go public, this clip stuck out in my mind. Imagine how crazy the world will be if we ever actually find ourselves in spaceships going back and forth between Mars:
I’m not sure if this post will resonate with anyone, but it was something I had to put down in digital ink. Things are getting crazier and maybe rather than fighting that, resenting it, finding excuses for it, it’s actually something we should be ready for and acknowledging that it comes with the territory of outpaced technological and population growth.