Evan and Gordon Kat Talk: Is The World Worse?

KAT: Hello friends, readers, bloggers. Hope you are all having a lovely week. I’ll be taking over for Gordon today as he is currently out on a hot date. That’s what I heard at least.

So, since Evan has let me suggest a topic for today I would like to ask you all (but for the sake of this conversation Evan) is society improving itself or getting worse?

EVAN: Before you elaborate on that, I’d just like to inform our readers that Kat will be dropping in every third E&GT, on the week she’s not writing a Shame or Fame Day.

I’m just assuming there are some of you who look forward to her writing, and I can not fault you for that at all.

The internet’s reaction whenever Kat writes a post.

KAT: Anyways, when I ask “are things getting better” I’m referring specifically to an argument I regularly have with my mother where she suggests things in the world are getting worse in the world, citing things like school shootings and the fact that “everyone needs to lock their door these days.”

While I usually respond by insisting that there has actually been a huge decrease in things like domestic violence.

So, are things getting worse? Are they getting better? Or are some issues suffering while others improve?

EVAN: My standard answer here, as in most cases, is that it’s typically a little of both. That being said, in general “are things getting worse” is such a broad question that we definitely need to narrow it down a fair amount.

KAT: Oh, look at you being all diplomatic. Well, part of the reason this came to mind is because I came across this article the other day that takes a look at the relationships between men and women. Specifically how it has improved with the movements of feminism, even the third wave kind of feminism that Gordon talked about a few weeks ago.

EVAN: Since you sent me that article before this talk, I can summarize it pretty concisely: Basically people are worried that in this day and age sex and young people has gotten really terrible when in fact many statistics would point to the exact opposite.

KAT: Exactly. I found it especially interesting because it even discusses some of the issues I’ve expressed concern over in previous articles-

For example, in Problem with Pink and Problem with Cute I talk about how media representation of women has been hugely detrimental in the way men view women. While I still have issue with media representation this article does point out how we have made improvements in spite of the expose we have had to what (I at least consider) the negative effect of media exposure.

So maybe the question should be does the way the media present our society have a detrimental effect on it?

EVAN: I’ve talked about sensationalist journalism before in regards to more trivial topics [photos of movies being filmed, etc.], but in general that kind of thing is around and I do not like it. News seeks to make itself more interesting, and as a result I do think things tend to be blown out of proportion.

Sometimes I feel like these are the reactions that the news is trying to elicit.

And whatever the news says people believe. I don’t think that necessarily means the acts being reported on are perpetuated, but more that the world appears worse in our eyes.

As an example, when I thought I was going to high school in Ontario I heard that camera phones were going to be banned because people were taking pictures underneath bathroom stalls, essentially creating underage pornography.

I’m not sure how widespread that was, but it was enough to have the phones banned. That action in and of itself speaks volumes.

KAT: Wow. Yeah. That goes along with a lot of the assumptions from the article as well. That all kids everywhere are sexting each other and getting it on at a younger and younger age but really we just tend to hear the most extreme stories in the news.

Do you think it’s possible that when media is sensationalizing the “extreme stories” it can end up encouraging more violence? If you compare the amount of news time dedicated to crime in the States, for example, especially when it comes to gunmen and psychopaths, do you think knowing that they will get that kind of attention may be an incentive to do some people to do something shockingly violent?

EVAN: That’s actually something that Marilyn Manson has brought up before:

And I think that what he’s saying definitely has some truth to it. If school shootings are able to garner this much attention, effectively immortalizing those involved, then that definitely makes them that much more tantalizing, if I can use that word.

But at the same time these events are, all things considering, few and far between. And I think there’s a difference between an act of violence being widely publicized and Oprah calling attention to “rainbow parties.

KAT: Yeah, it seems like the best way to get attention for your show/article/etc. in a world where everyone is bombarded by media is to make example of the most extreme and unfortunate of cases that can be found. I even feel compelled when writing for the blog to find something controversial to discuss. So are we all creating a false sense of how the world really is? Making it seem like a less safe and more terrible place than it may actually be?

I typed “teens getting worse” into Google Images and this came up.

EVAN: The article would point to “yes.” I, once again, think it’s a little of both. Being overcautionary is certainly harmful, but we should still be aware of things like Snapchat being used for risque underage interactions and that sort of thing.

There needs to be some kind of middle ground where we can be informed without falling prey to “the next big danger” when it comes to our children or what have you.

KAT: I have to agree with you. While there are some pretty big issues that do disturb me, and I am always going to be quick to draw attention to those things, I don’t want to forget about some of the awesome advances we have made as a society.

As a woman there isn’t any other time I would rather live in, (even if I have to navigate through constant objectification of women in advertising).

EVAN: In conclusion: To answer the question “Is the world worse than it used to be?” I [we] think the broad answer is “No.” There are many things about the world we live in that have progressed much further than they’ve ever been.

This duck represents the collective opinion of 2/3 of Culture War Reporters.

That being said we would do well not to forget about the issues that are not so great, and not ignore them due to all the pluses in our present lives.

KAT: I guess that sums up our talk for tonight. Not particularly long, but apparently Evan and I agree on too many things to get very much debate going.

EVAN: Thank you for reading, and I’d like to remind everyone again to leave topics we can discuss, because we really need them.

KAT: As you can probably tell.

EVAN: That’s all for now, folks! Like I said, leave us a topic if you can, and definitely fill out Kat’s poll below-

Editor’s Note:

We fully understand how short this post is, and how our discussion didn’t go as in-depth as others in this feature normally do. I am going to chalk that up to Kat’s adjusting to her return back to school coupled with her relative inexperience with the format. Never fear, we are constantly working to improve, and will definitely get the hang of this in the upcoming weeks.

2 responses to “Evan and Gordon Kat Talk: Is The World Worse?

  1. You definitely made the third option in the poll too enticing.

    • You are very right. Actually, I should have thought of a way better first option because I think there actually are some pretty legitimate arguments behind the camp that thinks that “things are getting worse”. Unfortunately I was pretty sleepy at the time and fell right into a tempting little idiom.

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