The following comments I saw while browsing the internet one day kind of caught my attention, it made me wonder what people in the past would think about us today.
Meh. The same facility of argument upthread that warns against painting a rosy picture of any time period could equally be applied to the present. I very much don’t think that the combination of humans and environment was ever designed by mother nature, no matter the epoch, to make the average human subject miserable. Especially when the concept of misery itself changes. Not enough leeway is being made here for our brain’s adaptive capabilities (and relative pleasures). Are all animals, since their lives are “nasty shortish brute” and so forth, miserable? (I keep using the word miserable, but feel free to substitute whatever negative word you’d like. As another bit for thought, going back in time and telling some human ancestor we now spend several hours a day parked in front of static two-dimensional chunks of plastic that emit little dots of light might result in some, perhaps zen-like, guffaws of sad amusement.)
And given the absolutely fantastic technological leverage humans now enjoy today, is it not true that that leverage comes with a greater potential for planet-ending outcomes?
You’re absolutely right, they’d probably laugh at people reading books too (and after understanding, perhaps make comments to the effect, “Look at all the burdens your technologies place on you. Having to spend most days in a room learning for years and years, instead of living your life.”). But here’s where your equivalence between books and screen entertainment rings false, in modern contexts, we know better, that reading tends to be much more nutritive than tv or playing candy crush. They’d laugh even after grasping what the two-dimensional chunk of plastic does. (For a modern treatise on the vapidity of some of our modern entertainments, for anyone who likes reading (a lot), see David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest”.)