People Debate What This Era Will Be Known For
Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

When scholars look back on our current time of excitement, upheaval, and chaos, I wonder how they will define the era that preceded theirs.


It's hard to pinpoint exactly what our era will be defined by–whether it was entirely good or a disaster–but perhaps a quote from a famous literary icon can still be of relevance.

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens once wrote, in part:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity..."

Curious to hear the interpretations of the time we're living in, Redditor HeyArio asked:

"What will this era be known for?"

People discuss how the internet is both a blessing and a curse...but mostly, a curse.

It Took A Village

"If we're being eloquent, a period of social change and upheaval due to technology and social media."

"If we're being honest, a f'ked up period where social media enabled all the village idiots to communicate with all the other villages idiots to have one big idiot village."

– needsmorec*nts

Fact-Checking

"The Age of Misinformation."

– Remote-Principler543

Choosing Misery

"Using the Internet to make ourselves miserable. Let's face it, social media and divisive political content is seriously messing up our collective mental health."

– DeathSpiral321

Redditors noted how we have become numb to society.

Doing Nothing

"The Era of Missed Opportunities- when we could've done everything but chose nothing."

– Firm-Boysenberry

The "Ennui Engine"

"This will be known as the era when all of humanity joined together to make each other dumber and depressed."

"Low-effort content – media that's easy to both create and consume – doesn't actually entertain us; it just distracts us, ultimately leaving us listless and uninterested in anything that might actually add something to our lives. Think of how many times you've looked at your Netflix queue, glanced at your Steam library, or contemplated picking up a book, then gone right back to mindlessly scrolling."

"After all, higher-effort content would require time, attention, and energy to appreciate... and why would we bother with that when we have an endless array of memes?"

"Standards are considerably lower online, too, and they're only dropping further. People don't need to write well, provide accurate information, offer original content, or even behave like mature adults. Worse still, whenever someone suggests that maybe we should improve ourselves, we're more likely to ignore them (or downvote them) than we are to take the advice. We're all sending the tacit message that knowledge and effort are inferior to ignorance and apathy, and we're actively discouraging anyone who might think about doing better."

"Taken together, these two details highlight a chilling trend: Whenever we amplify or applaud low-effort content or poorly written misinformation, we end up muting and condemning anything higher-quality. We're actively depressing ourselves while we celebrate ignorance and apathy. This off-topic sentence about mutant lobsters is only here to amuse the rare few of you who aren't just skimming this comment. In short, we're harming ourselves (and each other) while making it harder and harder to recover."

"This is the Ennui Engine."

"The only way to escape it is to reserve our likes, upvotes, shares, and retweets for only those offerings which are exceptional... regardless of whether we personally enjoy them or not. If we're ever unable or unwilling to determine what 'exceptional' actually means, then we should hold back from interacting at all. We can't do away with social media – that ship has sailed – but we can insist that standards (for everything) be raised."

– RamsesThePigeon

People lost hope in humanity.

Remaining At Odds

"Extreme division, right vs left, vax vs anti vax, Rich vs poor."

"It will be remembered as a time when people just refused to work together."

– Canuck_dad

When Came A Virus

"Covid really showed how broken the US is."

– No_Junket_8139

Failing Our Environment

"This era will be known for us passing the climate change tipping point."

– Original_Musician103

Hot Commodity

"toilet paper hoarding."

– OldAsMoses

The past couple of years was heavily defined by the pandemic, which then brought out the absolute worst in people due to fear, isolation, and lots of misinformation as countless loved ones lost their lives all around us.

People were always divided, but with the help of various communities on social media pushing their respective causes, we are more divided than ever.

Dickens was on to something. To finish out his quote mentioned earlier, he said of the era before and during the French Revolution–which began in 1789–in his classic historical novel:

"In short, the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Sound familiar?

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