Now is the greatest time to be alive

I've no idea if this is due to my age or the average age of the people surrounding me - mostly in their 30s - or my parents and grand-ma getting older - the former in their 60s, the latter in her 80s - but I hear more and more 'complaints' about how hard nowadays are, how doomed we are, and how better it was in the past. I know how inevitable it is to think such things when you grow up. This is genetically speaking how we work, how our brain is operating. Which is why we can find some exact same complaints by 'older people' about their youth and current state of affairs from centuries and millennium ago. Still, I find it challenging to watch myself and my closest people fall into this trap.

I remember one of Obama's speech a few years ago:

I often ask when I meet with young people, if you had to choose any moment in history in which to be born, and you didn't know in advance wether you were going to be male or female, what country you were going to be from, what your status was, you'd choose right now.

I can't agree more. I came across a wonderful, necessary post a little while ago. "We live in extraordinary times, but rarely zoom out to think about the major shifts that define our world. Here are ten charts that help us make better sense of the big picture."

  • we live much longer
  • there's been a drastic fall in extreme poverty
  • the world’s economic power is dominated to an extreme degree by just two countries
  • the world has become literate
  • far fewer people die in state-based wars

"And yet, sentiment readings say people are angrier, believe they are less well off, and say they are more unhappy than ever before." What's happening? Barry points out towards media in What else might be driving sentiment?

While the past few decades have been challenging to all media companies, the 2010s seems to be when they shifted their online presence to a much more aggressive stance. Perhaps most significant is in the way coverage became increasingly “click-bait” oriented via headlines filled with emotionally loaded language [...]

it’s not just the headlines that create this world; it’s also the choice of topics and focus of media that can lead your understanding of the world astray.

I'm still astonished by the magnitude of this graph.

I suspect that the combination of these two factors — negatively laden headlines matched with a wildly disproportionate coverage  — are combining to send sentiment readings to places that do not match the reality of the economy or more broadly, the real world around us. [...]

We are what we eat, media diet included.

Talking about Our world in Data. I remember one of their blog post that resonated so much with me. The world is awful. The world is much better. The world can be much better.

I find this powerful. And empowering.


Objet du jour

Last time I visited my cousins in Brussels, they offered us a book called Progress: ten reasons to look forward to the futureRelationship recorded with Objet.