Two Years On: Amanda Todd, Retaeh Parsons, Steubenville, Nude Photos, Cyberbullying (Some Off-the-Cuff Reflections)

Two years ago today, Port Coquitlam teenager Amanda Todd committed suicide, as a result of enduring online exploitation by an adult male and years of bullying and cyberbullying by her peers, which came in the wake of the adult male who exploited Todd posting photos of her exposed breasts online without her consent. Todd didn’t do what many of people her age, male and female, weren’t doing, but she just happened to be unlucky enough to trust the wrong person. And now she’s dead.

Since the world heard about Amanda Todd’s death, Nova Scotia teenager Retaeh Parsons was gang raped by four boys at the house of a friend of a friend, in November 2011, and someone video-recorded the crime and forwarded the video, via social media and possibly a cell phone as well–and the police did nothing about it when it was reported to them, though the rape, recording, and forwarding are crimes (Parsons was 15 years old at the time). Like Todd, Parsons was bullied and cyberbullied, and, like Todd, she eventually attempted suicide, and died on April 7, 2013. And it was only after Parsons’ death that the authorities decided to draft, and attempt to pass, laws against what was done to Parsons.

Then, in August 2012, there are reports about a female high-school student in Steubenville, Ohio, being taken from house to house and gang raped in each house by players on her high school’s football team, while she was incapacitated by alcohol. These incidents, too, were caught on video cameras and forwarded via cell phones and social media. When the perpetrators were finally caught and arraigned, the media acted as if they were the victims, lamenting about how their futures were ruined. (Apparently the future of the real victim didn’t matter.) The young men who raped the young woman, and some others, were sentenced and imprisoned.

Now, in 2014, we hear about nude photos of female celebrities being leaked on the Internet; apparently some gormless worms hacked into these women’s iCloud accounts, downloaded the photos, and put them on the World Wide Webiverse. These women were chastised, commentators stating they shouldn’t have even taken the photos in the first place, never mind stored them on the Cloud. 24 Hours writer Liz Braun beautifully responded with: ‘Did you know, Internet creeps, that this is the exact same logic criminals use to justify breaking into your house and stealing your belongings?’ (It’s nice to know that if I ever come home and find my basement apartment broken into and my laptop gone, it’s my fault, and not that of the asshole(s) who broke into my home and stole my computer. Thanks, Internet creeps. But, hey, at least now you know your logic can and will be used against you.)  Jennifer Lawrence, one of the women whose account was hacked and whose photos were leaked online, told Vanity Fair in her most recent interview in the magazine that what happened to her and the other celebrities whose photos were stolen and leaked is a sex crime, stating, “I did not say you could look at my naked body.”  And, in this morning’s–this morning’s–edition of Metro, I read about Anisa Salmi of Richmond, BC, whose petty ex-boyfriend posted nude photos of her, and made defamatory remarks about her, on U.S. gossip web site The Dirty; she had to pay $2, 000.00 to an online reputation-management company, called The Dirty Defenders, to get the photos removed. Added bonus: When she reported the incident to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Mounties told her they couldn’t do anything about it unless there were elements of criminal harassment involved, and, because Salmi willingly gave the photos to her ex, it was kind of her fault they were on the Internet.

Seriously? We’re two decades into the twenty-first century, the third millennium, and we still feel the need to act like Puritans?

Apparently, a lot of people can’t stomach the idea of women assuming, and exercising, autonomy over their bodies and sexuality, so they feel the need to punish any woman or girl who dares to experiment with sex or sexuality. And many still feel female rape victims ‘asked for it,’ somehow, either by the way they act or dress, or their sexual history, or some other rationalization(s). Many people still subscribe to the ‘madonna/whore’ dichotomy; if you’re female, you fall into either one or the other of these categories–there ain’t no in-betweens.

So much for nuance.

I know the death of someone–especially someone who never reached adulthood–is one hell of an occasion to mark, but I felt the need to reflect on where society at large is going in terms of allowing humanity to truly express itself in all ways, including the sexual arena. As for Amanda Todd, I believe her story is at the intersection of bullying and rape culture; the comments many people (including, shamefully, my own mother) made about her story are part of how rape culture survives: the attitude that ‘the woman deserved it because she is a slut.’ When I mull over Todd’s tragic story, I keep thinking it could have been my mother’s story, it could have been my story, and it can still be my nieces’ story, including that of my youngest niece, who happens to be my mother’s granddaughter (my other nieces are the daughters of my half-sisters).  And so can the stories of Rehtaeh Parsons, Anisa Salmi, and the female celebrity victims of the hack-and-post incidents of recent weeks.

I hope what happened to Amanda Todd, and the other women I mentioned in this post, never happens to anyone else, regardless of whether they’re close to me or complete strangers to me. But, in order for my wish to come true, the society I live in, and others, have to let the legacy of the Puritans go. For good.

Seal Hunting and More Illogical Celebrity Commentary

I know it’s been three days since I first got wind of this kerfuffle, but I had to say something about it, and now was the chance I had to. Of course, I realize this post just sends more attention the way of yet another celebrity who tends not to think before she speaks or acts, but this latest example of celebrity stupidity can actually encourage the public at large to continue a dangerous pattern of selfish thought patterns and behaviour, so I have to say something.

Full disclosure: I’m a vegan, but I’ve stopped supporting People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) quite a few years ago, because I don’t approve of their methods, and what I recently learned of their hypocrisy. That said, I’m not going to let Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq’s comments about seal hunts go unanswered.

First off, the seal hunt: Before I started writing this post, I did what Ms. Tagaq should have fucking well done before the Polaris awards on September 22–that is, some research. I’m not going to go into PETA’s position on Indigenous seal hunts, but, when I typed ‘Indigenous seal hunts vs. commercial seal hunts’ into Google (another reason Tagaq has no excuses here), the first result was a web page from the site for International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), who–unlike Tagaq, who apparently buys the bull being spouted by commercial seal-hunting interests–actually distinguishes between aboriginal subsistence seal hunting and commercial seal hunting, and has nothing against aboriginal subsistence seal hunting, while opposing ‘a government hiding a cruel and wasteful, large-scale industrial slaughter behind aboriginal subsistence hunting, deliberately blurring the distinction between the two. ‘ Like Tagaq did at her Polaris awards acceptance speech, in her bid to make eating and wearing seal trendy. Because that’s why seals exist–to be killed to create trendy status items for homo sapiens sapiens.

Something you would have learned, Miss Tagaq, if you had, as my Grade Nine history teacher once admonished my class, done your bloody homework: Aboriginal seal hunts target mainly adult seals, occur during the summer months, and kill fewer than 1,000 seals per hunt, whereas commercial seal hunts take place earlier in the year and kill thousands of seals, most of whom are less than three months old (I got this information from IFAW’s web site ‘Aboriginal seal hunts’ page, by the way). Also, the European Union seal-products ban makes an exception for Indigenous hunters. Just so you know.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tagaq dared to respond to her critics with this Twitter message: ‘I had a scrolling screen of 1200 missing and murdered indigenous women at the Polaris gala but people are losing their minds over seals.’ You may also be surprised, Miss Tagaq, that a lot of people in this world do not prioritize some issues over other issues. Also, this instance of attempting to use one issue to silence critics of your comments about another issue is an example of how your logic can, and often will, be used against you. Let me give it a whirl: I don’t know why you bothered with the scrolling screen of missing and murdered Indigenous women when the anniversary of the suicide of Amanda Todd, the Port Coquitlam teenager who committed suicide because she was bullied and cyberbullied, is coming up; and let’s not forget Retaeh Parsons, the Nova Scotia teenager who committed suicide after she was raped and images of her rape were circulated, and she was bullied and cyberbullied as a result. See how that works? Personally, I believe getting to the bottom of the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women is just as important as ending bullying and cyberbullying. I also happen to think that ending any and all commercial hunts–of any nonhuman animal–and developing economies in more positive ways is important. Notice I said commercial in the previous sentence. The point being, Ms. Tagaq, most people are not single-issue people.

I’ve also girded my loins and had a look at Tagaq’s Twitter feed, and thus know Tagaq retweeted a couple of tweets from an individual which stated people protesting animal slaughter should protest factory farming, and that seals are free-range, and thus live good lives before being ‘humanely killed,’ and she would eat seal meat instead of meat from a factory farm. Like being free-range makes commercial killing better? And also, the mostly infant seals killed in commercial hunts are not humanely killed–they are clubbed to death. Plus, ‘humanely killed,’ unless you’re talking about euthanasia, is an oxymoron. And I know that the majority of people, like myself, who protest commercial hunts are also against factory farming–those who know about factory farming, anyway. Apparently, like Tagaq, this individual has not done her homework. Way to go, Tanya Tagaq–seek support from at least one person who is just as ill-informed as you are. That’s what’s called an echo chamber.

I’d like to conclude that the only reason I responded to this particular celebrity nitwit–out of the thousands I normally leave twisting in the wind, because they don’t need any more attention–is because I feel the ideas she is spreading about the killing of innocent animals–and apparently without doing any research on the issue–are dangerous. Honest subsistence hunting is, as far as I’m concerned, necessary for certain segments of the population, so far be it from me to stop them. Commercial culling–the kind of hunting, killing, etc. done for human entitlement and the almighty buck–needs to end. And public figures like Tanya Tagaq need to inform themselves about issues before speaking about them.

Political Grandstanding At Its Finest

I’m a little tardy to the party in commenting on this, but I needed to take some time to put my thoughts together about what a trio of politicians said recently about different subjects before putting fingers to keys to comment.

Let’s start with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s comments about studies on violence against aboriginal women, particularly his comment about violence against aboriginal women being a crime issue and not a sociological phenomenon. I know that, as a wealthy white male in a position of power, Prime Minister Harper has little, if no, experience with racism, sexism, classism, or any other form of prejudice, so of course he would believe anything affecting anyone who is not a wealthy white heterosexual adult male is not a sociological phenomenon; he apparently has never heard of John Martin Crawford, a serial killer, and the fact that nobody cared about Crawford’s victims because they were aboriginal women, that people adopted the attitude of ‘just another Indian,’ which is the title of the book Warren Goulding wrote on this particular subject. It has also apparently never occurred to Prime Minister Harper that people started caring about the Highway of Tears here in British Columbia only after the first white female disappeared along that stretch of highway; the women who had theretofore disappeared along that stretch of highway were aboriginal. And since First Nations have been demonized by white settlers since first contact…If I didn’t know Prime Minister Harper’s words and actions were ideologically motivated–and they are–I would say the Prime Minister needs to do his homework before proceeding to open his mouth again. But I know better.

Next up: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and his ‘surprise’ visit to Iraq as part of dealing with the threat of the newly-formed Islamic State, declaring Canada would help protect, among others, religious minorities in the area. This is the same Minister John Baird who, when the Office of Religious Freedom was created in Ottawa, cited the fundamentalist-Christian line about ‘freedom of religion, not freedom from religion’ when defending the Office’s not including atheists and other nonreligious folk in its mandate. So I can’t help but wonder about Minister Baird’s true intentions in Iraq, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East, nor can I doubt who he really intends to protect from the Islamic State, and those in charge of it, as well as the other Islamists who dominate the region.

Last, but certainly not least: British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, and the way, under her, the provincial government is dealing with the teachers’ strike. In a recent Vancouver free daily newspaper, Premier Clark called for teachers in B.C. to suspend their current strike, while apparently not wanting to give so much as a quarter of an inch vis-a-vis their demands, which include changes to class sizes and composition to better accommodate the needs of students. Whether or not all of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation’s demands are reasonable or not is a matter of debate, but Premier Clark and B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender need to stop flexing their muscles and meet the BCTF halfway. I would strongly suggest Premier Clark learn from the mistakes of her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, especially if she wants to remain premier of British Columbia.  On a personal note, I attended high school in Ontario during Mike Harris’ time as premier of that particular province; his policies on everything from education to healthcare made him immensely unpopular, and he didn’t last long as premier of Ontario.  Premier Clark would do well to learn her history, especially if she does not want to repeat it.

Canada’s political system is supposed to be a democracy, yet it seems, within the last decade, the politicians at every level of Canadian government–federal, provincial, and municipal–aren’t acting like it, but rather are ignoring the wishes of the people to act according to their own agendas, and expect us all not to say anything, even if we do notice.  If this situation is to end, then society at large needs to speak up, and thus make sure the people we elect into positions of power are willing to listen to us, and understand that, if they abuse the power we as an electorate give them, we can, and will, take it away.

Back to Work, 3-Day Novel Contest, and New Blog

Labour Day weekend is over, as we all know, and it’s back to the bump and grind.

I am now back at the job I quit back in May; I recently realized I may have quit prematurely. More about that at my new blog, http://chloe_desilets.livejournal.com/, as soon as the wrinkles get ironed out (I’m having trouble posting my first entry to my actual journal).

On a happier note, I participated in this year’s 3-Day Novel Contest, and I am now half-way through typing it; I’m hoping to have it completed by the end of this week. All I need is a character witness statement declaring I wouldn’t cheat on something like this, and I’m set. The sooner, the better.

On all fronts, I have high hopes.

Technology: Community Builder or Buster?

I’ve lost track of how long people have been wringing their hands over, and bemoaning, the effect–in their minds, negative–technology has on the current generation of young people. The hand-wringers claim television, the Internet, cellular phones, and video games isolate us from other people, and make it next to impossible for us to connect with others.

I humbly disagree.

Just because people talk on their cell phones, send text messages, play video games, or otherwise spend time looking at a screen doesn’t mean we know anything about their social lives, ergo we can’t make any assumptions about them, nor can or should we assume we know better than they do how they should spend their time, or conduct their social lives. Just because we don’t see people striking up conversations with complete strangers–on buses, in coffee shops, or other public places–doesn’t mean those people are unfriendly, unsociable, or lonely.

So why all this hand-wringing over how people conduct their lives now, especially in their use of technology and the way they interact with other people, as opposed to, say, between thirty and fifty years ago?

I don’t believe it’s entirely true that the Internet, cell phones, and other advances in technology have made people isolate themselves from other people. We are, and always have been, social creatures, and we will seek the company of other members of our species from time to time. Granted, some of us are loners, while others are more gregarious. The point is, people make choices about our use of gadgets and other technologies, and about how we interact, or don’t, with our fellow human beings. And nowadays we have web sites like http://www.meetup.com, which prove that technology can be used to bring people together, and to even build community–or at least facilitate community-building.

The bottom line: Society changes as time goes on. And technology advances, and gives us new tools. So we can either complain about societal changes–which, by the way, are inevitable–or we can roll with them.

Evolution

I attended a free exhibition at a local art gallery this past Saturday, which included a discussion following the tour of the exhibition. During this discussion, some of my fellow attendees claimed current media, like television and video games, isolate us from our fellow humans and numb us to the world, and parents and other authority figures aren’t doing as much as parents of yesteryear did to engage with their kids, and get their kids to engage with the world, by, for instance, sending them outside to play.

Granted, there is such a thing as too much time in front of a screen–computer, television, what have you. But I don’t see evidence that anyone who watches more than twenty hours of television a week or plays video games is deadened to the world; in fact, the gamers and TV geeks in my life are relatively normal. People, kids included, are not automatons; they are capable of consuming the media they do and still interacting normally with the world.

The discussion at the gallery also delved into whether or not any of the pieces we saw were art, and what qualifies as ‘art;’ one man stated artists should learn the rules of art before doing it. I took a continuing-studies course at Emily Carr University, which was an introductory look at form and composition in art; from that perspective, I agree it does help to have a rudimentary grasp of the basics of form and composition when starting work on a composition, as opposed to taking a haphazard approach. I’m now wondering if the artists whose work was displayed at the gallery this Saturday took any art courses or not, where they learned their craft, and what was going through their minds as they worked on their pieces.

The fact is, art and culture, like everything else, evolve. The criteria for what is considered art has expanded, and tastes have expanded with them. To state the painfully obvious–and what has been stated before–art, like taste, is subjective. It’s just a question of what stands the test of time, and what ends up in the ashcan of history.

And, no matter what happens, humans are a social species–evolution has seen to that; ergo, we will always seek company and community with our fellow humans.

On Shopping and Activism

On the bus home one sunny day, I saw an advertisement announcing the stores Winners and HomeSense would donate money to the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s campaign to end violence against women. On the Foundation’s web site, http://www.canadianwomen.org, on the page ‘Our Supporters,’ it touts Winners/HomeSense as one of its ‘Platinum Partners,’ and states that, among other acts of support, the stores host an event called Shop for Hope, which confirmed, for me, that my concerns about shopping as a form of activism are legit.

I know Winners and HomeSense aren’t the only businesses to donate money to organizations (such as the Canadian Women’s Foundation) who aim to do good in the community–and to get some extra advertising (for themselves) while they’re at it. My concern isn’t with them, or with the Canadian Women’s Foundation; I’m concerned about the idea of shopping as activism, and the promotion and encouragement thereof.

I can hear you from here: “We vote with our dollars.” Perhaps that’s true. However, promoting shopping as a form of activism can lull those who engage in it into a false sense of satisfaction: ‘I shopped at a certain store, and donated to a good cause. I did my good deed for the day.’ There’s no way of knowing if shopper-activists will take their good-deed drives beyond the shopping, or if they’ll care enough to–after all, issues won’t be resolved just by spending money on them, or, as in most cases, the symptoms. By promoting the idea that shopping is a form of activism, there’s the danger that that’s all people will do, and that they do it just to make themselves feel better about their lives.

A greater danger in the idea of shopping as a form of activism is that it has the potential to encourage and perpetuate shopaholism. Now, I know shopaholics will shop even without the idea of shopping as activism, but the ‘activism’ part will give shopaholics just one more rationalization for their compulsive spending. Lesley-Anne Scorgie, in an excerpt from her book Well-Heeled: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Getting Rich, and the book and movie Confessions of a Shopaholic describe the consequences of shopaholism, for shopaholics themselves, the people around them, and the economy; in fact, in Well-Heeled, Scorgie states shopaholism helped bring about the 2008-2009 economic collapse, particularly in the form of unpaid consumer debt. So, is it really a good idea to carry on encouraging people to buy things they don’t need to support good causes?

And is it even necessary? Why not just give money directly to the organizations, and cut out the stores/middlemen? People will still shop at the stores of their choice, and donate to the organizations of their choice, stores and other businesses will still donate to the organizations of their choice, organizations will still get money to their work. So there’s no need for ‘shop for the cause’ events, or to encourage and perpetuate consumer culture and debt just to donate to organizations dedicated to one cause or another. In fact, now that I think about it, the concept of ‘shopping for the cause’ seems to benefit chiefly the stores and businesses who promote it, in terms of publicity, and perhaps revenue, as well.

Family Values

Today sees Vancouver’s 36th annual Pride Parade, and I’m about to write about family values.
Full disclosure:  My parents divorced when I was young, and I was raised by a single mother.  To be honest, I’m not sure what my views on the subject of family values would be if my circumstances were different from what they were, but, as it stands, my actual circumstances colour my views on the subject, which are as follows:

-Attraction can’t really be controlled; sexual orientation and identity can’t be controlled.  People should not have to live a lie just to be considered socially acceptable.
-One size does not fit all in terms of family composition; there is not one type of family which is better, or worse, than others.  As with everything else in life, people need to do what works for them, as individuals and as collectives.  P.S.: Even nuclear families can be bad, even abusive and toxic.
-Certain segments of the population should not be denied rights just because other segments don’t approve of the way they live; eg. the LGBTQ community shouldn’t be denied the right to marry, and/or raise children, just because social conservatives of all types and stripes don’t approve of how they live.
-Gender, and gender roles, are social constructs among the human species.  Humans invented the concept of gender, and that of gender roles. Nature has nothing to do with it.
-Comprehensive sex education and access to contraception and abortion are necessary for a stable society, as ways to curtail overpopulation and putting a strain on resources, which are finite.  Ignorance–oops, I meant abstinence-only education, especially on its own, has been proven to not only not work, but to be counterproductive.

The thing is, with everything else that effects society at large, staunch social conservatives of all types and stripes have hijacked the terms ‘family’ and ‘family values,’ to promote their shared agenda of turning the societies they live in into dictatorships in which they run the show, and the rest of us just fall in line and blindly follow the leader.  The social-conservative version of ‘family values’ promotes rigid gender, race, and class roles, and race and class, if not gender, divides–in short, a re-adoption of Victorian attitudes about gender, race, class, and everything else that forms society, under the guise of protecting and preserving the ‘traditional family.’  In this manner, ‘family values’ is a euphemism for kyriarchy (where all forms of oppression intersect), or what scholar bell hooks calls white supremacist capitalist patriarchy–in short, another tool of social control.
More full disclosure:  Both of my parents were born into nuclear families, in the 1950s.  My paternal grandparents were Quebec-born Roman Catholics, and stayed together until my grandmother’s untimely death, after which my grandfather never remarried.  My maternal grandparents were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and raised my mother and uncles as such.  Neither of my parents finished high school; my father was a trucker for most of his life, and died in debt and without leaving a will, while my mother moved from one low-paying job to another, mostly in customer service.  I am now an antitheist, who finished high school, and I have a university education, and all the while managed to stay on the right side of the law–though I was borderline anorexic and bulimic in my early adolescence.  It just goes to show there are no guarantees in life, for anyone; not even the type of family one was born into provides certainty about anything, including one’s future.
It is rather maddening, isn’t it, that it’s 2014, and we’re still arguing about issues such as gender, sexual orientation and identity, and family composition?

The Pemberton Music Festival Through the Eyes of a First-Timer

I returned yesterday afternoon from Pemberton, British Columbia, where I worked four shifts as a parking lot attendant at the Pemberton Music Festival–the first ever I attended, in any capacity. So, in short, I got to attend an event I would not, at this juncture, under normal circumstances, be able to attend, and I got to make money while I was at it. Not a bad deal, if I do say so myself.

My impression on the Pemberton Music Festival itself (remember: I’m a first-timer), is that it’s equal parts fabled spring break (only in the summer) and fabled Summer of Love, with some cosplay thrown in for good measure. Thousands of perfect strangers bonding, however temporarily, over their favourite bands who played at the event. OK, there were some elements I wasn’t particularly fond of–most of them falling under the camping category–but, other than that, I’m glad I went. I left the festival with a couple of regrets: I left the first show I attended early so I could make my second shift on time, and I never took advantage of any opportunity which presented itself to make the acquaintance of a young man who so closely resembles my brother it’s surreal, solely out of chronic nervousness when even considering initiating interactions with people I don’t know.

Regrets and peeves aside, I would attend the music festival in Pemberton again. Depending, of course, on the lineup of musicians.

‘Golden Age’=Natsukashii

What an age we live in.

That thought coursed through my brain as I was walking in Coal Harbour last week, digital camera in hand, snapping pictures. Then, as now, I’m glad I live in age when I have access to such a technological marvel, as well as other products of scientific and technological advancement, such as my computer, smartphone, mp3 player, printer, and digital alarm clock (though I’m thinking right now said alarm clock is a tad outdated). Other results of scientific advancement I’m glad I have access to fall under the medical category–I’m referring to MRIs, CAT scans, various vaccines, and the overall knowledge today’s medical professionals possess and can use to treat and help take care of people.

Also, in this day and age, there are a few social advancements: women and people of colour can vote and work for (somewhat) decent pay, and aren’t seen as the property of white men; people in many parts of the world are more supportive of LGBTQ folk and their human rights than they were even twenty years ago; the majority of people are demanding that those in power be held accountable for the decisions they make…I could probably go on here, but, for lack of anything else coming to mind right now, I’ll stop there.  I know we have a long way to go in all of these areas, but we’ve advanced since the beginning of civil society.

Which begs the question of why so many people yearn for a return to, or of, the past–or, to use their phraseology, ‘the good old days.’

So many periods in history–the Renaissance, the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, the Victorian era, the 1950s–are often dubbed, or considered, ‘golden ages.’ Perhaps they were indeed golden ages in the times they occurred, and/or the people who lived in those times thought they were. But the world has changed since those eras, and societies with it. At this juncture in human history, I seriously doubt anyone wants to go back to a time when inventions such as washers and dryers for laundry, dishwashers (the machines), cars, airplanes, etc., didn’t exist, and weren’t even ideas, or when women and people of colour were subjected to various restrictions, and anyone who was not heterosexual had to hide it, for fear of harsh and brutal treatment. Yet I’ve heard and read about people who say the times we now live in are so bad, and whatever period of the past they favour and praise was better.

But was it really?

Any talk of any period of the past as ‘the golden age,’ or the ‘good old days,’ or as somehow better than the current time period, is, I postulate, an effect of what the Japanese call natsukashii, a term meaning a nostalgic yearning for a time that never really existed. I believe people who talk about any period of the past as being better than now ignore the worst parts of whichever periods they favour, and buy into whatever fairy tales they’ve bought into regarding those periods, based only on the parts they like. And I believe people who harbour this tendency do so because they are afraid of change.

The thing is, change is constant.

We’ve come a long way since the Stone Age, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Victorian era, the 1950s, and so on. I’m not denying some good can be found in those eras–but, in my humble opinion, there were more burdens, inconveniences, and downright horrors in those eras than anything good, and the people who lived in those eras did the best they could with the resources they had, and could get their hands on. We’ve improved on these eras in terms of resources, tools, and ideas. I, for one, am happy and grateful to live in this era, when I have access to so many resources, don’t have to worry about dying from any completely preventable ailments, and have many other advantages that were no doubt unimaginable in the past. As far as I’m concerned, I may not be living in a so-called ‘golden age,’ but the era I’m living in is, warts and all, pretty damn good.