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Author Topic: Are you unhappy with the modern world?  (Read 23114 times)
SteampunkObserver
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« on: September 29, 2011, 05:27:10 am »

Hello all,

There seems to be a certain disappointment with the modern world within the Steampunk community. Many steampunks express the desire to largely or totally remove themselves from it, be it through time travel or just fantasy. I realize that not all of those desires are completely serious - but there's a strong tone of escapism nonethless. So, what is there to escape from? Are you unhappy with the modern world? Would you run away from it if you could?

V/r,

~SO
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2011, 05:46:19 am »

We'd be unhappy in any time really methinks...
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2011, 05:48:06 am »

Honestly if I could I wouldn't spare a thought about leaving this world or time. So few people have morals or even common deceny anymore, almost the entire human race is made up of selfish, self-centered, ignorant twits. Who wouldn't be able to tell what being polite is if it came up and bit them on the arse. I'm not excluding myself from that group either, I may hide under a veneer of politeness and I may be able to show kindness and manners. But I'm as selfish and greedy and egotistical as the rest of the lot, I may try to be a good person but that doesn't change the fact that I'm a monster just like rest of us humans. So to answer your question yes I would love to leave this time for one where we at least tried to hide the fact that were monsters. A time where I can at least pretend for a while longer that there is something about us worth saving.
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2011, 06:19:23 am »

I am quite happy to call the modern world "home."

I just don't want to spend all my time at home...
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2011, 07:34:21 am »

The modern world is home regardless of how we feel about it. There was never a perfect time or place in history anyway. Though it does feel like the time period we live in has no glory to be won, or epic adventures and quests, no groundbraking discoveries or

We need nuclear or zombie apocalypse to shake up the world and make it a more interesting place Wink
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2011, 09:01:47 am »

Today generally with the excess of health and safety regulations, the requirement to have the right piece of paper to do most things and the possibly imminent brown stuff (I'm not talking tea) impacting the ventilation system is it any wonder that many of us are dissatisfied with the modern world. The reliance on technology and the extreme specialisation that is often necessary to keep things going I suspect could be our downfall and without people like us that understand the older way of doing things without having to resort to a badly translated instruction manual the prognosis is not good.        The concept of a renaissance man (or woman ) is something that is rarely mentioned these days but fits well with our preferences in that a Victorian engineer could oversee a whole project, can this be done today? probably not without a scary amount of managers to tie everything up in red tape.               OK rant over for now I need to apply copious quantities of caffeine to my mind before finishing the paperwork that I really should be doing at this point.      M 
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2011, 09:17:07 am »

I complain ll the time, but by any objective measurement, there is no better time and place to live than the 21st century Western world.
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2011, 09:20:01 am »

... almost the entire human race is made up of selfish, self-centered, ignorant twits. Who wouldn't be able to tell what being polite is if it came up and bit them on the arse.

Ha, ha!  And hear, hear!

For me there is an unapologetic air of escapism in my Steampunk, as I am a person with two advanced degrees trying to navigate through long term unemployment.  Also, my opinion on the subject of a greedy and self-centered nature of society is rather obvious, and biased, I think.

I have stated this before: society is faltering, in a bad way.  The overuse of resources now threatens the planet.  We operate an economic machine that we don't know how to control (or even understand), and we can't (or won't) care for the poor, not even those living in the "advanced world."

Why wouldn't you have an "escapist" hobby?

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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2011, 09:30:30 am »

Great example of why I would much rather not be in 2011:  My mother, who was also my best friend died a few months after I graduated college.  (immediately after I graduated I had to start taking care of her)  That's life and I dealt with it...what is complete and utter modern bull**** is that everything was a fight with the bank, the cell phone company, the crooked funeral director, my supposed friends, the government, the insurance company, the hospital...  WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MOURNING!?  Despite slavery, despite colonialism, despite child labor, despite inequality of genders, if you actually study the customs of the era, the Victorians had a stronger sense of "caring" than we do today.  Everyone raves about depression and all this nonsense (that I have) and they continue to make the world a better place to shoot yourself.

In the Victorian era somebody could be self-educated, now even if you are, even to a higher level than a college can give you, you still need to go to college.  You can't usually just prove you know what you know.  And now it is even tougher to get a job, let alone start from scratch on your own. 

Furthermore, all this technology is coming at a huge toll.  Cancers we have never seen on a scale as they are happening now.  Diseases becoming more and more resistant.  Heck, even fleas don't respond as well to insecticides anymore.  (apparently down in Florida it is  VERY bad)  And during this time, it is getting very hard to afford even basic medical care.  In the Victorian era...I could TRADE for medical care.  Even trade a service.  It is rare doctors will do that today.  

Steampunk universe: take modern technology, put a Victorian style on it....add some of the Victorian culture with some scoops of post-colonialism and feminism, we'd actually have a pretty decent world.  We'd probably kill each other on greater levels, but for the day to day person, it would be a lot better than this mess of a crude, uncivilized hunk of pretentious garbage that we call "modern."
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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2011, 09:39:49 am »

Hello all,

There seems to be a certain disappointment with the modern world within the Steampunk community. Many steampunks express the desire to largely or totally remove themselves from it, be it through time travel or just fantasy. I realize that not all of those desires are completely serious - but there's a strong tone of escapism nonethless. So, what is there to escape from? Are you unhappy with the modern world? Would you run away from it if you could?

V/r,

~SO

Disappointment with modern world is not just within the SP community. Everyone at any place or time has at some point have the feeling life in general could and should be better. Escapism in any form is a way to express thoughts and test your improvements in "real" life.

What's there to escape from? A hardened society, abuse of nature, wars, poverty, hunger.

Are you unhappy with the modern world? Thinking about what is written above, yes. But it's not all bad. We've got science, charity, art, people who want to do something about wrongness in the world.

Would you run away from it if you could? Running away is the last thing on my mind. I would like to change some things if I could.

Steampunk (on any other hobby/way of life) is to pretend the world IS a better place. To unwind, reload and return back to reality.
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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2011, 09:41:09 am »

Not so much unhappy with it (I may say I don't like this, that or the other about it, but there are many things I am thankful for- doubtless like many others here had I actually lived in the nineteenth century I almost certainly wouldn't have made it past my fifth birthday), more that I am disappointed with it.  

We have computer technology the Victorians could only dream of- and largely we take it for granted.  
We have medicines that cure what were once terminal illnesses- and we take them for granted.
We can get half way around the world in less than a day- and we take it for granted.  
We've stepped on the surface of the moon- and relatively few people are awestruck.  

We could do so much with what we have, but nobody seems to care anymore.  We've lost our sense of wonder and our 'why not?' mindset.  
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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2011, 09:42:31 am »

I wish to add Mr. Harrison's remarks to mine as well.   Grin 
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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2011, 09:43:21 am »

I suspect many posters on this thread are in between employment at the moment. I know I am and the escapism offered here is most therapeutic (rather more so than the conspiracy sites I usually peruse )  M  
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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2011, 09:57:25 am »

I am trying to be self-employed. 

Just took out the garbage and had another thought.  Recycling:  apart from broken bottles in the outhouses, the Victorians recycled....EVERYTHING!  It has only been with cheaper packing materials and more processed food items that we have become such a junk culture.  Seriously look up Victorian trashcan and what you get is a small bin that would have collected unusable scraps from sewing, the sweepings from the dust pan, or the unusable kitchen scraps...that was it.  Everything else had other purposes unless they broke beyond repair.  Us green nuts can only dream of being as thrifty as they were.  Look at their guns, it would not be out of the realm of possibility to see a gun start in 1816 as a flintlock musket, then become a percussion musket, then get rebarreled as a rifled-musket, and then get converted in the late 1860's to a trapdoor system of some sort. 
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« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2011, 11:34:12 am »

Just reading through the posts here and some of the opinions I've heard before, but in a slightly different setting. I spend upto three weeks of my summer at a Tudor re-creation (not a re-enactment, we actually live as tudors, and do things the tudor way as faithfully as possible,) as an Ostler. I work a pair of heavy horses as well as the masters riding stable. On some days it can be cold, wet and miserable doing heavy work and walking your soles thin on nothing but a bowlful of Bl**dy Pottage! The flipside of course is working alongside such graceful, powerful animals, working to the sun and not a watch, and a complete lack of mobile phones Grin Tudoresque speech takes some getting used to (and an age to get out of, once you return to that "other" world) but fundamentally revolves around respect and courtesy, something that becomes profoundly apparent when real-life returns.

So, would I wish to return to such a time? Probably not. Life was hard and occasionally brutally short, particularly if you were amongst the poor folk. I do, however, wish for a return to some of their values of courtesy, of a slower pace. And hence next August will find Peddlar lass Lucy being courted by Rob the Ostler and general yard-hand as he brings in the drey loaded with whatever heavy lump needed shifting. And hopefully this time I won't split my authentic nether-hoes whilst astride the Masters good horse...

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« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2011, 12:17:26 pm »

If I am thinking selfishly about just me, I am happy with 21st century life. I and those I know live in comfort, no, luxury... compared to many on this planet. I don't think I would last long outside the digital age. I'm not nearly tough enough to handle much heavy work which ostensibly most people did do until the past 50 or so years.

I do feel like modern society has ramped up (especially in the past few years) into a bureaucratic, complicated (yet dumbed down) and rushed mess. Actually if you think about our society much of it sounds quite sci-fi dystopian... talking to machines over the phone, utter disregard for people's privacy on the part of tech companies, cameras everywhere. A crummy version of a William Gibson book.. still, I have an easy life in the modern world.

But thinking of the bigger picture, I can see huge global issues which are extremely concerning - resource scarcity, economic chaos, environmental havoc, overpopulation, the list goes on and on. I feel largely powerless in the face of all these things, and worry we are in for much hardship in the future. So, perhaps a simpler life is in store for us after all? I hope not, I hope that we are able to make use of all our resources and technology and do something great (more space and science stuff!). We don't really value what we have until it's gone, and no society lasts forever...
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« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2011, 01:45:59 pm »

I am quite happy to call the modern world "home."

I just don't want to spend all my time at home...

Damn it, I was about to write essentially that.
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« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2011, 05:46:31 pm »

I am quite happy to call the modern world "home."

I just don't want to spend all my time at home...

Damn it, I was about to write essentially that.

That's a good way to look at it.  Which actually explains something that seems to get people a little angry at me.  I have never called any place home since I left the farm back in 1999.  My grandparents had both started dirt poor and through hard work had made it up to being some of the richest people in the county.  (that's not saying much compared to the rest of the "civilized world")  We finally had satellite television probably in the last year of being there.  We still used rotary phones.  I think the first music playing device I ever used was a record player or maybe the 8-track player.  (keep in mind I am 24)  I actually watched Jurassic Park on the black and white television in my room.  When it came to the actual farming, we didn't have any of the high tech stuff that has taken over many farms.  It was all done by hand with the help of a 1950's Ford tractor.  I never had a computer until 2000, which caused some low grades from teachers who expected everything to be handed in typed.  "What do you mean you don't have a computer?  EVERYONE has a computer."  So yeah, maybe I am very biased in my stance, but hopefully at least you all can now understand why.   Grin
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« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2011, 06:58:14 pm »

I think there is a lot of looking through rose tinted glasses when the past is mentioned. It would be an interesting place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. We have so much to be thankfull for in this modern age and don't make the mistake of thinking that humans were any different back then from now, they weren't. They could be just as selfish, mean, cruel and uncaring as any of us. Yes we have rules and regulations that can annoy or inconvenience us, but think about working in a factory or workshop that is not subject to any safety legislation (sends a shiver down my spine).
We seem less respectfull now because our livelyhood is not dependant on showing the right amount of deference to our "betters" (those wealthier or with more social status than us). Good manners were what you showed to your social equals and betters not to those bellow you. You wouldn't lose your job now if a customer didn't like you. We would all be appalled at being expected to stand silently with our eyes cast down when we encountered the lady of the house. Or to accept being turfed out of our house because the lord of the manor says it is ruining his view from his study. We have a level of equality now that was pure fantasy back in the 19Th and early 20Th century.
They could make as much of a mess of the economy or the environment back then as now, Victorian industrial cities were not nice places to live and human life was cheap unless you were rich, and make no mistake few of us would have been rich. The gap between rich and poor was just as great then as it is now, there are just more of us in the middle ground now.
In the UK we have a free at source health service, if you were sick back then the only help were charitable institutions. Unemployed, there is always the workhouse. Dickins wasn't exaggerating when he wrote about them.
There were great strides made in those times but we have built on those foundations not undermined them. 
We all like a bit of escapism and fantasy but we shouldn't let it rewrite our history.
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« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2011, 08:04:20 pm »

I think there is a lot of looking through rose tinted glasses when the past is mentioned. It would be an interesting place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. We have so much to be thankfull for in this modern age and don't make the mistake of thinking that humans were any different back then from now, they weren't. They could be just as selfish, mean, cruel and uncaring as any of us. Yes we have rules and regulations that can annoy or inconvenience us, but think about working in a factory or workshop that is not subject to any safety legislation (sends a shiver down my spine).
We seem less respectfull now because our livelyhood is not dependant on showing the right amount of deference to our "betters" (those wealthier or with more social status than us). Good manners were what you showed to your social equals and betters not to those bellow you. You wouldn't lose your job now if a customer didn't like you. We would all be appalled at being expected to stand silently with our eyes cast down when we encountered the lady of the house. Or to accept being turfed out of our house because the lord of the manor says it is ruining his view from his study. We have a level of equality now that was pure fantasy back in the 19Th and early 20Th century.
They could make as much of a mess of the economy or the environment back then as now, Victorian industrial cities were not nice places to live and human life was cheap unless you were rich, and make no mistake few of us would have been rich. The gap between rich and poor was just as great then as it is now, there are just more of us in the middle ground now.
In the UK we have a free at source health service, if you were sick back then the only help were charitable institutions. Unemployed, there is always the workhouse. Dickins wasn't exaggerating when he wrote about them.
There were great strides made in those times but we have built on those foundations not undermined them.  
We all like a bit of escapism and fantasy but we shouldn't let it rewrite our history.

Depends on how you look at the factory part.  At least back then you could see the bulk of the dangers coming, it was just a matter of being fast enough.  Today the dangers are mostly invisible and to be perfectly honest, I'd rather get crushed to death then suffer some of the diseases that are developing from the chemicals that we use. If somebody does not like you, they will always find a way to get that job out of your hands.  I'm not sure how things are in the UK, but in the US, corporations and local governments have many tools to get you out of your house.  Live in the shadow of a nuclear power plant that made the news in the 70's and then find out the reports every year that, "Oh yeah, actually this fraction more had been released than previously thought."  The value of human life has actually gotten cheaper, because now you can replace people with machines and plus there is a surplus of us, so we aren't really worth anything.  

Respect for others was not so much because they were better than you, but because you had to rely on other people.  Technically we still do, but it is so impersonal now that we shoot an email or call on the phone and a generic *Biological Service Droid* shows up and does what you can't do.  My cousin and I actually had this same conversation the other night.  He is a cop, but on his spare time he has a garage that he mainly uses to help his friends and family.  To him the manual labor is not "just a job" because usually he doesn't get paid in money for that work, just takes the money he is given to buy the parts needed, he does it because he likes to do it.  And he does a really good job because he respects the people that he is doing the work for.    

Step out of the modern bubble and look in.  We are a world of insane people.  Yes...we are completely bonkers.  We think some typed characters on machines we created are going to basically destroy our entire life's work, much like a house fire.  (computer viruses)  We type a bunch of stuff up and call that a day's work.  At least clerks and the like back then had a stack of paper to show for it, which could eventually be recycled, depending on its value as toilet paper or to make fire to keep the office warm.  If we unplugged, it would be very immediate how backward we actually are.  In the US, everything is pretty much privatized.  I'd argue right now that my mom died because of the healthcare system, not inspite of it.  If her insurance had been different, she could have afforded to go to the doctor's to get check-ups.  She was a medical professional for crying out loud.  When we have the state of mind to let those sorts of people go with bad medical coverage something is screwed up.  

From the mid-1800's to the end of the 20th century, my family was farming.  That is what we did.  There is something tangible about planting a seed and helping it grow into something you can eat or sell.  It's an amazing feeling and one not many people have anymore.  Everyone keeps saying "I couldn't do it."  I did do it.  I'd wake up 6am as a little kid under the age of 10 and help out with raising the goats.  Taking the pitch fork to switch out straw, putting them in the stands so my mom and dad could milk them.  Walking with them in the pasture to make sure none of them ran off or a stray dog or bear didn't decide to pick one off.  Today everyone wants to shelter their kids, I never had that.  When we had bad winters, I'd see what happened.  No, it was not easy.  But it was rewarding.  I think that is why I do art and wish to focus on doing it as a job, because it is one of the only jobs in the modern world that you work the product by hand or with small tools from start to finish and are able to hold it in the end.  
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« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2011, 08:33:23 pm »

I would agree with that, the problem is that a lot of our view of what it was actually like to live in the past is coloured by literature, which, by definition inevitably paints a rather romanticised view of the past.

Furthermore whenever you look at something at a distance it's always tempting to see the bad bits and think 'well that wouldn't happen to me...'

I'm not entirely sure where the view that everyone was nice and polite comes from. The Victorian middle-classes may have been stiffly formal with each other in public but my impression is that they were often distinctly chilly in their personal relationships. Also the social form of the etiquette handbooks may have been standard for the middle-class but teh upper and working classes didn't seem to bother with it that much in general.

The inner city slums certainty were not places where people were polite or considerate, nor would most people have seen any need to be remotely civil to their 'social inferiors'.

The vast majority of people worked in unpleasant and dangerous jobs for long hours, from an early age until they were too old or ill to work, if they were lucky they would then be looked after by their family, . Domestic servants in particular had virtually no time off. Traditionally rural workers enjoyed quite a few 'feast days' throughout the year, but industial workers and domestic staff were less lucky.
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« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2011, 08:42:18 pm »

I have no problem with the world. She is the Mother who provides.

However, some of the people ON the world....
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« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2011, 11:47:48 pm »

Speaking strictly for myself, I'm not particularly unhappy with the modern world - it's afforded me a reasonably prosperous career, a solid interpersonal relationship (24 years and counting, 20 of them recognized by the civil authorities), several valuable friendships, a decent education, and various modern conveniences that have kept me entertained for years...

That said, I'm about as generally alienated as anyone I know - I'm not sure I'd totally fit into any particular time or place. Steampunk affords me an opportunity to reinvent time/space in a way that I personally find interesting and rewarding.
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« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2011, 02:02:05 am »

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« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2011, 02:45:06 am »

There has been no era superior the present.
I am not saying the current era is any better, only that it's no worse.

Life's always been hard, life's always been full of trials and tribulations.  There have always been haves and have-nots, innocents have suffered, bad things have happened to good people, all of it.

And there have always been those who somehow imagined that there was a 'better Age' sometime before the current one.

From the tales of any culture with myths occurring in a "Golden Age" and the story of the Garden of Eden down to the character Don Quixote and the author Robert E. Howard.

Hell, when I daydream, I imagine that ANY time-before-the-present would have been a better time for me...but objectively I understand that to be simple romanticism.
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