Sex-crazed teenagers, horrible diseases, and violent crime are all sold in the media as things that are pushing up the date of the end of the world. The apocalypse isn’t coming — at least not from these five over-dramatized reasons.
Every Friday, I’m compiling a list of five things that meet one criterion. “What is that criterion,” you ask? Well, it’s going to change every week and you’re just going to have to try and keep up.
Five Reasons to Stop Panicking About the Fate of the World
Bad things happen everyday. We know this.
The worst, however, is when more than one of those bad things are lumped together and then exaggerated in a context that suggests our world is ending. “Oh no, teenage girls like the Twilight movies and those movies feature pre-marital romance and those actor types all seem so narcissistic and Hollywood is only focused on adaptations/remakes rather than making original movies and all those fat cats on Wall Street are greedy monsters stealing from the little guy and my cell phone is going to kill me slowly — the world’s going to implode any day now!”.
Are any of these views justified? Sure – there’s a bit of truth in most criticisms, no matter how extremely they’re presented (and those Twilight flicks really do sensationalize outdoor, vampire softcore romance).
But it’s never as bad as anyone makes it seem (to be fair, nothing is ever as good as anyone makes it out to be, either) and there’s plenty of reasons why. The world isn’t ending any time soon and it certainly isn’t going to end as a result of the five misconceptions listed below.
5. A little sex never hurt anyone
One of the most common critiques of the growth of any media that features some semblance of pornography was that if we tolerated the “mainstreaming” of sexual content, it would wreck our society’s ethical values and lead to an increase of sexual crimes and everything related to sex. Guess what? Not happening.
The number of rapes per capita was at an all-time low in 2006. Crimes against children are down. Divorce rates are at their lowest levels since President Nixon’s administration. All teenage sex statistics suggest positive trends (fewer teens are having sex, fewer are having sex with multiple partners, and more teens are practicing safe sex) and the figures for teenage pregnancy continue to shrink.
So, all things considered… a little nudity seems to be helping more than hurting.
4. Send a fruit basket to the Justice League
Though nobody is really sure why, violent crime rates has been falling non-stop since the early 1990s. This, you’ll notice, is a trend that continues despite all the increasingly suggestive, violent media we’re all exposed to on a daily basis.
I don’t know what else to say about this. The world isn’t as scary as we’re constantly led to believe, I guess.
3. No, seriously, like “velociraptor smart”
Movies like WALL-E and Idiocracy depict the future of our world as being full of media-obsessed, brainless, fat, lazy, simpletons. While these exaggerated portrayals are entertaining and there are certainly still plenty of dumb people in our world (watch any reality show on MTV for a nice taste of that inconvenient truth), IQ scores have been steadily rising in industrialized nations around the world for nearly 50 years.
Because I’m a bit of a moron, I will not try to dissect possible explanations of this trend (click here if you have that sort of time). That being said, most social scientists agree that while the rising scores are not entirely a result of human beings naturally becoming smarter, many of them – like Steven Johnson – do believe the overall progression of our mediated culture since the end of World War II has a lot to do with our advanced scoring on intelligence tests.
So ignore all those doomsday prophecies and the eye-rolls from your grandparents at Thanksgiving – our generation does have bright minds and they are just as common now as they were during The Oppenheimer Era.
2. The diseased tables have turned
It was not that long ago that a cancer diagnosis generally meant certain death. If you don’t believe me, go check out a movie or television show from the 1970s to see just how rarely the then-morbidly taboo topic is ever broached compared to now, when every other episode of every major network show (medically-centered or not) features a character battling cancer in some form.
Well guess what, cancer? We’re kicking your ass.
While the disease is still plenty serious and prevalent, incidences of cancer across all racial and ethnic populations are in decline and the most common cancers are those most notably decreasing. On top of that, the total amount of deaths as a result of cancer has steadily decreased over the last 15 years. Kaboom.
Heart disease, which has been the biggest killer of human beings since the beginning of the last century, continues to claim over half-a-million American lives per year (25% of annual American deaths are heart disease-related) but the annual mortality rates for the disease have dwindled consistently since 1993. We’re winning! Keep positive!
1. The Holy Grail is within reach
The life expectancy for Americans, at birth, is now over 78 years old. The explanation for this increase is presumably pretty complex but I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s probably a result of one or more of the four things listed above; it’s easy to live longer when you’re able to out-think the dwindling number of criminals and/or diseases coming after you. I guess pornography also helps? Do some research and let me know how it works out for you.