For most of history, there was nothing more natural than dropping dead at age 25 after getting blood poisoning from stepping on a sharp object. But thanks to advances in technology and higher standards of living, we no longer have to worry about stuff like that. Instead, modern life brings its own terrible maladies, ones so unnatural that we might as well be getting infected with computer viruses. For example ...
It's time to do away with the medieval stereotype that the world is divided into poor countries suffering from famine and port-swilling, cheese-guzzling rich countries suffering from obesity. This is the 21st century, a time of progress and opportunity. Today anyone can be obese or undernourished -- or, amazingly, both at once.
Since fatty foods are now a frugal form of feeding a family, many third-world citizens are joining the first world in the crippling obesity epidemic. Ironically, this new health scare isn't scaring away their old famine problem. While obesity in many poor countries has doubled since the '80s, that has had no impact on the number of people suffering food scarcity, which had risen by 5% by 2016.
This is called the "double burden" of malnutrition, and now 9 out of 10 countries are suffering from both an obesity and malnutrition problem in the same communities. WHO-backed studies have found that 1 in 3 impoverished children won't be just under or overweight, but fluctuate drastically between an empty plate and empty calories, skipping the healthy middle ground and suffering from the unhealthy aftermath of being both famished and full-figured.
East Asian scripts like Hanzi and Kanji (Chinese and Japanese, respectively) each have tens of thousands of unique and complex characters. It's a daunting challenge to recall, since a lot of them look like the puzzle maze on a particularly cruel Denny's place mat.
But how do all those symbols fit onto a keyboard? Obvious answer: They don't. Almost all speakers of these languages input words through a predictive version of pinyin, a Romanized version of the language that allows them to type by sound and let software transmogrify it into the specific character they need. As a result, millions of people in China and Japan are experiencing a phenomenon known as "character amnesia," whereby speakers can understand the written language just fine, but can't for the life of them figure out how to assemble the characters themselves. Like the IKEA instructions of languages.
According to one informal poll, more than 8 out of 10 Chinese youths now have difficulty writing characters by hand. To combat this, China has launched a show called Character Hero, a calligraphy spelling bee wherein students compete to write basic words on a tablet while navigating a maze of light. Meanwhile, the middle-aged judges reminisce about how they used to get beaten with shoes for being bad students.
It's no secret that our ubiquitous blue screens are ruining our sleep, which the medical world defines (in a very judgmental tone) as "voluntary chronic pattern of shortened sleep." So an entire industry has popped up trying to help people get longer and deeper sleep, emphasis on the deep. Deep sleep, aka restorative sleep, is what heals the body, making you wake up all energetic and fit and not in need of a coffee enema.
But these treatments don't deal with how our disrupted circadian cycles affect REM sleep, aka the phase of sleep during which our imagination is free to dream and teleport us naked into a grocery store full of clowns. This, researchers now posit, leads to the lesser-known affliction called dream deprivation. Despite sounding like the name of an M83 track, the condition is apparently as bad as sleep deprivation itself.
See, dreams aren't just your brain killing time. They play a vital role in forming long-term memories and regulating emotions. To get to dreamland, you need plenty of clean, uninterrupted REM cycles. But while a lot of people believe in rituals like a nightcap, a bit of weed, or Xanax help them go to sleep, these sedatives also mess with later sleep cycles, which is when you're supposed to be doing your most quality dreaming.
Even more troubling, some medical treatments for sleep-related conditions are specifically aimed at eliminating dreams, not aware of the long-term effects. Plenty of antidepressants reduce or even cut your REM cycles by half. This is a bed-feature, not a bedbug, to help eliminate troubling nightmares. The doctors prescribing this stuff simply don't understand that being chased by a giant spider that looks like your stepdad might be better for your emotional well-being than not dreaming at all.
On the internet, everyone can be a critic. A petty, anonymous critic who can sink a restaurant's rating because they had to wait five minutes too long for a glass of water. So it was only a matter of time before picky patrons started rating their doctors as mercilessly as their Lyft drivers. Which is problematic, since most folks are in a more generous mood when they get what they want (pills), instead of what they need (a stern talking to about their lifestyles).
As a result, too many physicians are using pills to placate poppers, trading prescriptions for popularity. But over-prescribing treatments isn't just irresponsible, but downright dangerous. Life-saving drugs like antibiotics are less effective the more you take them, and patients can build up a ruinous resistance by the time they truly need them. One study found that the most satisfied patients had a higher rate of hospital admissions and spent more money on healthcare, yet had an adjusted 44% higher mortality rate.
Surveys have shown that the vast majority of doctors oppose rating systems like Patient Satisfaction scores. They know from a lifetime of professional experience that the folks who need meds the least are the ones demanding them because they once saw a pharmaceutical commercial about flowers and road trips.\
By most metrics, being alive is better than being dead. But thanks to medical advances, the process of dying can be stretched out for years, and that time is spent mostly in hospitals hooked to machines instead of outside smelling roses. In America, 25% of Medicare's half-a-trillion-dollar budget now goes to taking care of people's final year on Earth, with 40% of that pumped into the last month, as doctors, nurses, and the occasional sorcerer try to keep you out of their yearly mortality rate report. And what that money buys is nothing but misery. That's because, like Rob Schneider's career, dying is becoming more painful, depressing, and confusing with every decade.
Fortunately, doctors have finally said "enough," and now refuse to let this macabre charade go on ... for themselves. As one survey noted, nearly 9 out of 10 doctors agree to forego the very treatments they prescribe if they themselves became terminally ill. Despite that mentality (which is also shared by a vast majority of Americans), the number of suffering elderly being dangled on death's precipice has gone up by 12%.
Some blame this on incomplete training, or the mechanical mindset of treating patients like Tamagotchis, or that dumb old Greek guy's oath. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. Until the medical profession learns to appropriately discuss opt-out options, it's the patients who have to pay extra for late checkout.
For more, check out 5 Basic Human Pleasures The Modern World Is Destroying:
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