Are we living in a cultural golden age? Since this is a blog about positive trends, you've probably guessed I'm going to say the answer is Yes. I go into it quite a bit in The Secret Peace book, a lot of which is based on Steven Johnson's work in Everything Bad is Good For You. I'm revisiting it again here because I just found this interesting article in the A. V. Club, in which Leonard Pierce delves deeply into the issue.
Pierce's main concern is not whether or not we're living in a cultural golden age - to him, as to me, it's just obvious we are. ("… the older I got, the less patience I had for the retro-minded bores of every age who bitched and moaned about how nothing was as good as it was during the years when they just happened to be in college.") His concern seems to be why people don't believe it. After all, "With communications technology, increased globalism, and the seemingly endless proliferation of the Internet, it literally has never been easier to listen to any kind of music, watch any kind of movie, read any kind of literature, or experience any kind of culture you choose. Films that only two decades ago were almost impossible to see outside of big-city festivals or film schools can now show up in your mailbox within a day or two of a request for them. Television shows—in what even the jaded admit is a golden age of television—can now be watched in a variety of ways at almost any time, often without advertising. Technology has made rare books less rare, cult comics less cultish, and global culture more local."
He comes up with some really thoughtful explanations for why it's hard for people to believe we have it good nowadays. Check out the article to find out what they are.