Steven Johnson’s speech on the TED Youtube channel, titled “How Humanity Doubled Life Expectancy in a Century,” raises the question of increasing the life expectancy of the world’s population. In particular, life expectancy is considered a general trend, and the connection of the phenomenon with the improvement of living conditions and medicine, in general, is demonstrated. Johnson has shown strong growth in population life expectancy since the 1950s and also affected the life expectancy of people in past centuries (TED). However, Johnson’s speech and statements reveal certain inaccuracies and very critical problems for his central idea of admiration for the progress of society on the issue under consideration.
Johnson’s speech focuses on the idea of a positive trend in the development of life expectancy and, to a certain degree, the uniformity of this process for all regions of the Earth. The author touches upon the information concerning the statistics of the growth of average life expectancy, nevertheless making a mistake, which is typical for Western researchers, concentrating on the countries of the Northern Hemisphere. The author approaches statistics somewhat incorrectly and ignores several factors, focusing on his problem perspective. However, he highlights such vital events for humanity, such as more stringent treatment procedures, sterilization of instruments, and pasteurization of milk, vaccinations, and the emergence of antibiotics. Of course, these events significantly impacted the demographic preservation of people’s lives in the general perspective. But another factor should be taken into account, which Johnson ignores or, in any case, significantly underestimates. We are talking about the economic side of the experience of improving demographics and life expectancy, which, oddly enough, affects the direct experience of a single modern person. Thus, Johnson examines a topic that is interesting for the general perspective of the development of humankind as a species, and, despite the inaccuracies and problems of presentation, the issue has a vital role in the life of individuals.
Based on the very concept of increasing the life expectancy of people in the world, there are reasons for this, consisting of the emergence of new opportunities to improve their condition for the majority of the population. The availability of new possibilities in medicine and the improvement of each person’s lifestyle does not guarantee their use because, which is essential, a tradition of their application and analysis is needed. In turn, a peculiar practice of applying and introducing new habits, methods, approaches, and means of improving one’s life comes from experience.
Most of the things that Johnson talks about have been available in most economically advanced societies for some time, but since the 1950s, their use has begun to gain popularity rapidly. This is due to an increase in economic well-being, an increase in the birth rate and the emergence of more nuclear families, and, as a result, an interest in sports, healthy eating, and regular medical examinations. All this directly led to the gradual formation of standards and habits within society associated with a healthier and more harmonious lifestyle. Factors like these have provided experiences for new generations and have changed their outlook on life and health. As a result, the key to improving life expectancy is the formation of new habits and opportunities to improve people’s health.
For a modern person, the experience of past generations is a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of analysis and implementation of ideas for a healthier lifestyle. The historical flashback that Johnson provides in his speech is extremely important, as it invites the viewer to consider the process of improving the means to achieve healthier living conditions. Thus, realizing the possibilities for improving their standard of living, the viewer can organize a more productive and harmonious daily cycle, which significantly increases productivity and morale. The analysis of what opportunities each person has also provided a certain degree of awareness and a critical look at the resources and functions taken for granted by a modern person. However, with concretization and a more detailed analysis of the possibilities of this experience, you can get a more balanced view of the topic.
Modern technologies, the level of medicine, and their general accessibility allow students to fundamentally improve their life skills and worldview and maintain a stable moral and physical health state. For example, most people’s availability of public gyms provides a unique opportunity for today’s generation to keep their physical condition in a healthy and satisfactory condition. For humanity of the past, such an opportunity, which has become commonplace for humans today, would be beneficial in many aspects, but there are also more essential factors mentioned earlier. Reliable and affordable medicine is already familiar to most societies, countries, and cities and is often taken for granted. But the idea that most infections and other bacterial diseases can be cured in a relatively short time, thanks to a course of alternating rest and taking antibiotics, exists only recently.
To summarize, Steven Johnson’s TED talk does more than talk about how successful humankind is at exponentially increasing living standards and life expectancy. Johnson’s speech gives modern people the opportunity to look at their own experiences, introduce new practices, and look differently at existing resources and approaches. Thus, by drawing attention to the path taken by society on the way to a longer and healthier life, Johnson also affects the accessibility of each person to the experience of the past. Thus, “How Humanity Doubled Life Expectancy in a Century” provides a new look at old problems and opportunities, as well as expands the experience of a healthy lifestyle and critical thinking of modern people.
TED. “Steven Johnson: How Humanity Doubled Life Expectancy in a Century.” YouTube, uploaded by TED, Web.