The proof that the world is getting better is that now you seem to see people who are more horrible, offensive and evil than before.

By 30/01/2022 portal-3

La prueba de que el mundo va a mejor es que ahora te parece ver a gente más horrible, ofensiva y malvada que antes

Whoever you are, however you behave, whatever ideas you have, you are probably or have been the enemy, the bad guy, the villain of someone else's story. It doesn't matter who you are or what you think. Of course, serial killers and Hitlers are still evil, but most of us are not, despite the fact that people immediately call each other a Nazi or a fascist on Twitter.

How is it possible that there are so many villains? There have always been evil people, toxic people, but now it seems there are more than ever. Which is the reason? The reason, paradoxically, is that now there are more evil people because... people are becoming less evil. We see that the world is going to hell precisely because the world is getting better.

Concept creep

A psychology professor at the University of Melbourne, Nick Haslam, has dedicated himself to researching how the use of concepts such as abuse, addiction, mental illness, trauma, bullying and prejudice has increased. Historically, the meanings of each of these words were relatively limited, but over time they have expanded to include less serious phenomena under their umbrella. Haslam referred to this semantic change as the concept creep.

That is, what concept creep tells us is that, to some extent, problems never go away, because people keep changing the way they define them. It is something that has happened in recent years with the word "machismo." Now there are many more machismo things than before, so it seems that there are more sexists than before, when in reality there are fewer. When the semantic umbrella of “machismo” begins to become too large and one wants to encompass even more, then subdivisions are created, such as “micromachismos.” Or you can even be an ally who is indirectly sexist because you do not criticize certain micro-machism enough..

Haslam argues that concept creep occurs both vertically to include less severe examples than before (for example, bullying no longer only includes physical violence but also teasing) and horizontally to include categorically different phenomena ( first only children can be bullied, now adults too, and it can happen in all contexts).

All of this should not be used to trivialize concerns about advancing harm or other modern social problems, but rather to highlight that what you consider threatening or harmful is relative. The more confident you feel, the easier it will be to see the slightest events and trends as harmful, and this is the key to understanding why concept creep occurs. You can expand on all this in the following video:

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The proof that the world is getting better is that now you seem to see people who are more horrible, offensive and evil than before.

was originally published in

Xataka Science

Sergio Parra