Sunday, 29 May 2011

Upping the Angst

Overall, people live much longer and more comfortable lives than they ever have before. That is even when you take into account the health issues of the developing world, and, nations involved in conflict. We live in a golden age but we won’t recognise it. Anxiety and irrational fears are on the increase. High speed, hard sell mass media means that we are told a lot of things that are really none of our business. And, we are told in an alarming exaggerated way. Repeatedly, until sales and ratings drop and the next sensation comes down the wire. Our great grandparents often never knew of conflict and disasters in other hemispheres until well after the fact, if at all. And they certainly never had the vicious impact of troubles brought home in high definition drama. They didn’t usually live as long as we will but they seemed to be happier. When they had worries, wisely, they kept it from their children.

People have always worried about their health and safety. We are hard wired for worry. This was most fortuitous in the days when, if you stepped out of your cave without pessimistic vigilance, you could be torn apart and eaten alive by a sabre toothed tiger. For most of humanity’s existence, you were doing very well if you lived long enough to perpetrate your genes into the next generation. If you are an adult now, you will probably live into your eighties. If you breathe up some second-hand smoke or eat a bacon butty you will have more than ten minutes to live. Relax and enjoy. And keep your kids away from too much TV news. They worry more than we do.

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