Our culture has changed tremendously over the last few hundred years. Our life expectancy, literacy, access to different foods, access to different places, how much information we have and the way we process it, the technology that supports us, what we know about the world and how we interact with it.
What have these differences done to us, genetically, physically, mentally, emotionally? How have we changed?
Related questions: What is time? How have we changed the world? How much does our past determine our future?
3 thoughts on “How Have We Changed?”
We learn things from our culture, books, and accumulated knowledge and skills. But does all this reprogram our DNA, or is it basically the same as the cave man?
As the world has gotten smaller with speedy travel readily available, our views and viewpoints have gotten wider … often better and more welcoming, but not always. Still, our economic system has used these advances in travel to pit one community against another for incentives to create jobs where jobs used to exist anyway. I would also posit that small towns are dying partially as a result of more convenient travel for producers and consumers.
Increased sanitation and advances in medicine have made us healthier; and yet, our over-reliance on antibiotics may be leading to the birth of the next super bug (bacteria) that would be antibiotic-resistant and bring on the next big plague.
The internet and a number of gadgets have increased our potential for knowledge. But our need to remember (because everything can just be quickly looked up) has also been replaced by the internet and gadgets.
Culturally, so much is possible in the positive sense because of the changes that have happened in recent history. I guess I wonder if we’ll ever look up from our gadgets that are taking pictures of things we snap a shot of and then move on.
Advances in technology have afforded us amazing opportunities; however, we’ve too often ignored our responsibility to use acquired knowledge because of the inconveniences it places on us. And climate change is just one direct result.
Will our ability for wisdom catch up with our access to knowledge and technological advances? I hope so.
There is a weird dichotomy in that we have changed so much we don’t realize it, but we also have hardly changed at all.
Human being are remarkably adaptive. So something that is revolutionary one day is commonplace the next, and stale the day after. Flying halfway around the world on a plane is at first a remarkable opportunity, then it is something anyone can do at any time, then it is too much of a hassle to wait in the security line.
But at the very core of our nature, we haven’t really changed, and that’s why we find ourselves reliving history again and again. We’re still very tribal creatures, which is why immigrants are always feared and despised, whether they are Irish, Jewish, or Hispanic. Our base nature needs to be constantly challenged: our fear, greed, vanity, hate. It doesn’t go away, despite our best efforts.
There is also a part of me that doesn’t really know how we have changed, or how we might be in the process of changing ourselves. With everything new that has been introduced in the last 30 years, from the internet to smart phones, from self-driving cars to genetically-modified foods, we are experimenting on ourselves in ways that are not immediately obvious.
Will our fractured attention spans help us process information more rapidly and efficiently, or will it make us unable to discern truth from lies? Will our dependence on access to the internet pave the way to greater wisdom and synthesis of data, or will we become unable to remember key information from our everyday lives? Will the development of artificial intelligence assist us or replace us? Will modifying our genes improve our lives or make it easier for others to control us?
We’re living in a giant experiment of our own design, with the experimenters the ones being experimented upon. I can hardly wait to see how it all turns out.