My answer to this question on Quora, 10-22-19
I do believe there is more anxiety in today’s society… and it’s completely irrational.
Just a generation or so ago, people had real fears (anxiety), such as dying in a war and literally putting food on the table. But, we also had a clearer path to success – get a job, work hard and expect advancement.
We had about 5–8 channels on the TV to supply our news and entertainment — no internet. No streaming services. No blogs. And herein lies the point:
Technology and the accompanying media explosion are to blame.
Nearly overnight we now have thousands of media outlets vying for our attention. Everyone with a blog is now a “journalist” and success is measured by click through rates and commenters.
Our news outlets, once priding themselves on journalistic integrity, now use every manipulative means necessary of capturing our attention — and that means FEAR!
Even back in the day of 5–8 channels, news shows knew to open with the most horrific news possible in an effort to seize our viewership. Humans are simply innately wired to seek out danger factors in order to remain safe. Even though everything in society has steadily improved – mortality rates, violence of all kinds, equality of sexes and races – yep… all steadily improved through these years, but you’d never know it if you’re addicted to the media. CNN alone has many of my friends thinking we’re living in the worst time in history. Fortunately, people have been increasingly turning away from them.
It’s shaped our entertainment as well. Most people have traded in watching shows like All in the Family and The Jeffersons for The Sapranos, Breaking Bad and the like (ok, I’m dating myself a bit, but you get the point).
Trying to find something on Amazon Prime or Netflix that isn’t dark and twisted is pretty tough these days. As someone who battles depression, I’ve found that I have to monitor what I watch at night. Binging Breaking Bad had a very negative effect on my daytime mood a few years ago.
And finally, our addiction to tech itself — our phones, gaming, texting, social media… has taken us away from nature and immersed us in an artificial world. Few kids “go outside and play” today, which is where they should be developing their connection to the world and learning social skills rather than engaging with bullies and egos online all day. Twitter and Facebook are simply online road rage.
Anxiety is the irrational fear of the past and the future. If we stay in the present and take a look around, we realize that, unless something is directly threatening our safety at that moment, we have everything we need to be happy and well adjusted in that moment. String along a bunch of moments and you’re the kind of person that makes the world a better place.
Hopefully, we can be better educated in the future to exercise better judgement as what, and how much, tech candy we ingest. Because right now, every influencer (social media, teachers, politicians, news…) seems quite happy making us think we’re victims of EVERYTHING and the government should save us. The reality is, most of us are absolutely fine. We just need take accountability for our own behavior… such as tech addiction.