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Explaining 2015 to someone from 1915


tonyjames
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Hello Everyone,

 

The other day I was watching a TV show about Australian (I'm Australian) Nurses during World War One and it raised the question in my head if one of them, somehow, travelled through time into our modern world how would we go about explaining it to them. The simplest concepts, to us, would be out of the world amazing to them.

 

I was wondering. How you would go about explaining the modern world to someone from the past (ideally WW1 period)?

 

 

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Keep in mind, 1915 was not the world of cavemen.

 

By 1915 Einstein had proposed Special Relativity 10 years ago and had just proposed General Relativity. Max Planck had proposed the beginnings of Quantum Mechanics 15 years ago. Lorentz, Hertz and Maxwell had developed modern electrodynamics over half a century ago. Manned flight was invented 12 years ago. This was a modern world, at least in Europe and North America. 2015 would not be all that difficult to explain to a reasonably well educated person.

 

Maybe a better question would be how to explain 2015 to quite a few folks on this very forum. Remember, we have an open thread right now where the debate is whether the Earth orbits the Sun or if the Sun orbits the Earth. Trust me, you'd fare much better talking to the person in 1915. The person in 1915 with a high school education 1) had a far, far better education that today and 2) upon receiving their high school diploma in 1915 they did not take it home, smear peanut butter on it and consume it as a sandwich.

 

 

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Hello Everyone,The other day I was watching a TV show about Australian (I'm Australian) Nurses during World War One and it raised the question in my head if one of them, somehow, travelled through time into our modern world how would we go about explaining it to them. The simplest concepts, to us, would be out of the world amazing to them.

 

I was wondering. How you would go about explaining the modern world to someone from the past (ideally WW1 period)?

I can think about where to start!

 

I guess I'd go with internet and smartphones. Then let everything flow from there. It still amazes me that we can talk with anyone anywhere in this planet and have access to all this information with exactly no effort whatsoever.

 

That was an excellent question by the way... How'd you explain it to them?

 

 

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I think it would be far easier to explain 2015 to someone that is here in 2015, than it would be to explain 2015 to someone while in 1915. I agree with Darby, 1915 was not the dark ages. You might find many that would believe you. The World Fairs often had futuristic visions in many exhibits, from before 1915 and on. I remember the visions of the future from the 50's and 60's, from Fairs, and that Disney guy. Most have yet to be developed but, I do like Gene Roddenberry's visions, many of which have come about. Might FTL be next?

 

 

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A better question is how do you explain 2015 to people in 2015? I have relatives who live in remote regions of South-East Asia. I remember once trying to explain the concept of paying for goods at a self-service till with a debit card. They could not grasp the concept. There are people still living on this planet, whereby time has stood still for them; the life they live in 2015 is no different to 1915 or 1815.

 

 

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I am looking at this from a different angle, i would put technology aside and talk about how the world has changed for the human race. I would focus on love, understanding, friendship, respect and compassion.

 

If we look at the world based on those points i think a person from 1915 would be very disappointed in how little progress we have actually made in 100 years. In 1915 the world was in the grip of an horrific war, 100 years later we are still fighting pointless, horrific wars, we don't seem to have learned much do we? In fact we have gone backwards in many respects, there is less understanding and compassion in the world these days, the world is probably an even more brutal place. For all the amazing advances in technology i think a person from 100 years ago would probably consider us more primitive than them, i think they would argue that they achieved more in their life times than we have in ours.

 

 

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Interesting to see the different ways: technology vs human behaviour etc. But I think the technology part would be far more surprising to them... after all as worldmachine said the human race really hasn't gone anywhere from back then. Well maybe a bit backwards.

 

Technology wise, yes 1915 is not THAT far but when it comes to modern convenience.. it really is. Every house having electricity, fridges, central heating.. people sending messages to each other with computers and smartphones. Especially the internet could be something completely.. well.. unreal for them. Just imagine giving them wikipedia and saying "there you go, the biggest encyclopedia in the world"

 

 

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A lot of concepts would have to be explained and it will take a while to get them on the loop with the new things, but I don't think it'd be that hard considering the time difference is not that massive.I'd love to see how a conversation with someone from 1915 would go.

Yeah, I think because you had electricity and radios, and a lot of modern physics was already understood. You also had flight already.. it would not be hard to explain things like the internet, computers or space travel. I would think if you went back to 1850, things would be much more difficult to explain to people.

 

 

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I agree with the general consensus here. While the people of 1915 would of course be astounded by the technology of 2015, it wouldn't be too difficult to explain it in broad strokes by extrapolating from the technology they already had at the time: e.g. from telegraphs and radio to the internet, from early planes to space shuttles, etc.

 

In fact, I suspect that the people of 1915 might be taken even more aback by the great social progress and historical events of the past century more so than its technological advancements. After all, 1915 was the year that D. W. Griffith's The Birth of the Nation was released and spawned a second wave of popularity for the Ku Klux Klan. With that in mind, putting aside the USA's on-going racial struggles: imagine explaining the successes of civil rights movement and the eventual election of an African American president to the Americans of 1915. Moreover, it was only five years later that women were granted the right to vote in the USA and prohibition began. Keeping that in mind: imagine explaining the modern state of gender equality, Hillary Clinton, and marijuana legalization to the people of 1915. Imagine trying to explain gay rights and the legalization of same sex marriage to them. Imagine explaining the entirety history of the rise and fall of communism, from the Russian Revolution of 1917 to today. As amazing as the internet and the latest iPhone may be to people accustomed to the telegraph, I suspect that such progress and history would be an even greater shock to their systems!

 

 

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I simply feel you couldn't explain it to someone, they would on the spot just view you to be crazy and have you shipped off to the funny farm as I believe they put it back then.

 

Even if you brought evidence of 2015, then the government would just haul you off for info.

 

But I would have to bring something that they would believe in and make sense to them (if possible) and hopefully lead to further dialog.

 

 

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I think so taking some technology with you like a laptop mobils and camera and show how it works as well and, will be good to see what happens than and also see what they think as well. It would take time to explain things, as they will at times not understand but once they see the technology than may change their mind as well. I think it will be a interesting experience for them and also, may learn some new things as well in the process.

 

 

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Some excellent (and sometimes amusing) points raised here about how some people in 2015 barely comprehend certain aspects of 2015. Anyway, I also tend to think that because 1915 to 2015 isn’t all that huge of a time difference, it wouldn’t be too difficult for a time traveler from 1915 to grasp many of today’s modern conveniences, and that the novelty might wear off for them once they realize that despite some great leaps in social progress, we humans still tend to treat one another poorly on the whole.

 

 

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Keeping that in mind: imagine explaining the modern state of gender equality, Hillary Clinton, and marijuana legalization to the people of 1915!

Yeah, imagine telling people back then that a woman barely lost to an African American for the democratic nomination (remember, before 1960s, the democrats were the ´racist´ party)... and that black man went on to beat a Mormon to become President.

 

Also, I think pot was not illegal until the 1940s or 1950s... so it would be a bit funny in a ´ end of prohibition´ type of thing.

 

 

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Some excellent (and sometimes amusing) points raised here about how some people in 2015 barely comprehend certain aspects of 2015. Anyway, I also tend to think that because 1915 to 2015 isn’t all that huge of a time difference, it wouldn’t be too difficult for a time traveler from 1915 to grasp many of today’s modern conveniences, and that the novelty might wear off for them once they realize that despite some great leaps in social progress, we humans still tend to treat one another poorly on the whole.

I think we tend to look down at our own time and only see the problems. Remember back in 1915, children could still be forced to work in factories by their parents, there were very few women rights, african americans were free, but not really. Workers had no rights and the USA was basically the same as any country with sweat shops. There was mass malnutrition in rural areas.

 

Civil Rights will be a never ending battle, but it is disingenuous to think huge gains haven´t been made since 1915.

 

 

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Yeah, I think because you had electricity and radios, and a lot of modern physics was already understood. You also had flight already.. it would not be hard to explain things like the internet, computers or space travel. I would think if you went back to 1850, things would be much more difficult to explain to people.

Oh, yes, definitely! I personally wouldn't even try to explain new technology to people from 1850. It would be so hard and they would probably won't understand a lot of the new concepts.

 

 

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Technology wouldn't be hard to explain, current trends and human behavior would be. Starting from photos of your dinner on Instagram and a lot of crappy music made nowadays ending with weird haircuts everyone seems to have lately. Someone from 1915 might think that we live in pretty bad times. :D

 

 

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Technology wouldn't be hard to explain, current trends and human behavior would be. Starting from photos of your dinner on Instagram and a lot of crappy music made nowadays ending with weird haircuts everyone seems to have lately. Someone from 1915 might think that we live in pretty bad times. :D

Instagram selfies is not a new fad/trend, as these 2 pics from early 1900's clearly shows.... and these weird haircuts everybody seems to be having lately is a throwback to the past (if you are referring to the "hipster" haircut and full beard style)

 

 

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and a lot of crappy music made nowadays ending with weird haircuts everyone seems to have lately. Someone from 1915 might think that we live in pretty bad times. :D

Music, haircuts and other fashion-type things have always changed throughout history. I don´t think it would be hard to say ´look at what your grandparents used to wear...´ and then have them project that type of thing into the future. Geez, I look at my highschool pictures and am amazed at how bad our hair was and our clothing styles. I was almost going to type that it would be hard to explain that putting ´holes´ in your jeans is a fashion statement now.. but remember, 80 years ago, jeans were the poorest form of pants to begin with and were considered work clothes not suitable to seen in in public. Throughout history there have been ´fads´ that seemed strange for any moment of time except when they occurred, there is not reason to think there won´t be strange fads in the future.

 

Woman taking arsenic to whiten their skin, boys wearing their pants around their knees.. which is more strange?

 

 

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Speaking of trends, I wonder what a time traveler from the past would make of various historically-inspired fiction/fashion/lifestyle trends, like steampunk (completely wrong era for this thread, I know, but it was the first example to come to mind). Would they find such things interesting, amusing, or inaccurate, or would they perhaps find comfort in something a bit more familiar? I keep thinking of the TV version of Ichabod Crane waking up in the modern day, and befriending people at a historical reenactment afterward.

 

 

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That highly depends on a person who is visiting modern times. I believe intellectual person would accept and understand new technology, trends (at least the ones which are not incredibly stupid), music and style. I also believe there was enough stupid stuff in 1915, just most of it died out and is long forgotten. Same would happen after many years, dumb trends getting replaced with different dumb trends, the only difference is that now we have internet to carry on the information about everything.

 

 

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I wonder how easy it would be for someone from 2115 to explain the future to us, would we be amazed at the technological advancement? Equally we would we be disappointed and shocked in a further deterioration of treatment of the human race? Whatever the situation would be 100 years in to the future i don't think the information would be hard to grasp as we are a generation used to massive change and shocking events in the world.

 

I hope the dream of world peace can be realised within the next 100 years, but sadly i doubt that will be a reality, every generation will have it's warmongers. My other hopes would be for an end to hunger and poverty and a solution to climate change, however in order to achieve any of these dreams we need to eradicate greed and selfishness as much as possible from the human race. I think this will take longer than 100 years unfortunately. I think we will reach a peak of technological advancement in the next 20 years so i don't feel there will be much to amaze us in those terms in 2115.

 

 

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A rather interesting question. I think that nurses from 100 years ago would be amazed and dissapointed at the way the majority of people live. There are a lot of people who's live was swarmed over by technology which they're using to socialize. I think that's the biggest difference. People from 100 years ago obviously didn't knew what today's technology is. I think that the invention of internet has radically changed the way we live. Having all those "useful" gadgets is like a two sided medal. It can be useful but most of us (including me) didn't set healthy boundaries on the usage. I would simply describe this world to the nurses as a major dissapointment but that's just my opinion.

 

 

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