The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
6 Points

That our elders had it better than we do

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/21/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,630 times Debate No: 31501
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




I have tried this debate before, and my opponent accepted and never actually debated, so hopefully it will work better this time.

Definition of the topic (just to make it clear): that past generations (ie. our parents, grandparents) had better lives and greater opportunities than current generations.

I will be arguing that today we are better off than our parents, grandparents etc. and Con will be arguing that past generations had life better.

Rules: 1. No swearing or anything like that.
2. This will be my first debate, so if I'm not the best opponent, sorry, I have debated in competitions in person before though.

Round 1 will be acceptance of the debate and challenge.

Round 2: initial arguments.

Round 3: rebuttal and more arguments

Round 4: rebuttal and summing up of arguments etc.


I'll give it a shot.
Debate Round No. 1


Great, thanks for accepting.

For round 2, I will be concentrating on education.

First of all, today we have a much greater choice to do what we want with our lives than past generations did. If we want to be doctors, we can, if we want to be postman, we can, if we want to be secretaries, we can. What we do is no longer dictated by the restrictions placed upon us by our parents, we have greater freedom of choice.

Women no longer have to stay at home, and just clean, cook, do the washing and act as their husbands slave or servant. Women can go to university and study courses such as engineering that, many years ago, have been considered "men's work". There is greater educational equality than there ever was for past generations.

Secondly, we also have greater technology available to us for learning. Most everyone has a laptop or some form of technology to assist with researching assignments and homework. Instead of taking a trip to the library every time they needed to use the internet, as my parents had to, we turn on our laptop and the world, or at least Google, is at our fingertips. With the click of a few buttons, we can research whatever we want, can keep in touch with friends and family also.

Lastly, we suffer less harsh punishments than our elders did. There's no threat of lashes from the cane if you incorrectly spell a spelling word, or if a maths problem is wrong. No teacher can bring the ruler down on our hands for making a mistake in our "copy book". Whilst punishments such as suspension, detention, rubbish duty and even expulsion are common in schools, these punishments don't negatively impact the physical health of the student that is being punished.


I want to make a distinction clear first. The motion is kind of vague and I will take it how I see it. "had it better" - in my opinion the criteria for better is based on how happy they were statistically speaking, and not necessarily if they had a job considered better than another job, or the like.

the world in the past didn't have so many time consuming soul inhibiting jobs. Today, most people will work as waiters to get through college. A lot of people become accountants, and being able to do any job you want is not necessarily what makes you happy. here are jobs that make you the most miserable, notice that postman and milkman aren't in there. So why not be one?

We do all have easier access to technology, and that's exactly the problem. Excessive technology causes depression, maybe you learn things faster, but is that really even close to the goal of you feeling self satisfaction and happiness?

Furthermore, technology doesn't allow us to feel satisfaction as we used to. If in the past I was a writer in my area, I competed against people around me. I could be the best in my city and feel great about myself, feel I have found my meaning and my place in life. However, in today's world, you compete against the entire world, which is allowed by technology. Today it's much harder to feel your worth than it used to be, because you go online and you will surely find someone who is doing just what you are doing, but better. That makes people more depressed and makes modern society a lot harder to live in than past, technology free society.

"Research repeatedly has demonstrated that suspension, expulsion, and other punitive consequences are not the solution to dangerous and disruptive student behaviors. In fact evidence, indicates that dangerous students do not become less dangerous to others when they are excluded from appropriate school settings; quite often they become more so."
maybe schools will get it right one day, as of today, punishments are still not working and making things worse. I don't come to suggest that beating children is better, however today's solution is not much better than hitting the kids, it does not solve and worsens problems in problematic children.

School has never and still isn't able to deal with misbehaved students, and so this change is very minor.
Debate Round No. 2


Let's make it clear that I did define the topic, that "had it better" means having better lives and greater opportunities.

First of all, I'd like to say that just because a job is listed on that website, doesn't necessarily mean it makes everyone miserable. Every person enjoys something different. One person might hate being a child care worker, whilst another might absolutely love going to work there everyday.

And as to your question, why not be a milkman or a postman, haven't you seen all the postmen around, I don't know what country you live in, but there are a lot of postmen around, who do you think delivers the mail? And milkmen, that isn't really as much of a profession where I live, we don't have milkmen any more.

But the other thing is, when our elders were around, they didn't have a choice what they studied, I have said this before and it is true. There may be studies today about what job is meant to make people the most depressed, but how do you know that when our elders were around, they weren't depressed as well. Survey's are an unreliable source, because the people who are likely to be happy with their professions, will not bother to participate.

Also, as to current generations having better lives, there is a much better healthcare system in place now than there ever used to be. The mortality rate is lowering, meaning that people have a greater life expectancy. Mortality rates have declined because of new infrastructure, improved understanding of medical conditions and because of research and scientific advances. More information here...

Having a greater life expectancy improves ones life because they have the opportunity to achieve more during their lifetime. Instead of dying at 35, people are able to work longer, and then enjoy a retirement in their later years, if that is what they wish. You can better fulfil your dreams and desires when you have more time to achieve this.


"Let's make it clear that I did define the topic, that "had it better" means having better lives and greater opportunities."

very vague - what's a better life? better opportunities to what? that could mean jobs but it could also mean speak their mind or god knows what.. I made my interpretation for "better life"

"One person might hate being a child care worker, whilst another might absolutely love going to work there everyday."

yes but that hasn't changed, what has changed is how ok it is to be a certain job or another. You say a person choose, but if I would feel fulfilled being a milkman, and yet this job would not only be underappreciated by everyone, but also not bring enough bread to feed a whole family. Am I really free to make this choice? I'm "free" to make a choice to be a doctor, or a salesperson, or an accountant. But am I really free to make any choice I want to?
Do I really not get pressured by my 4 generation of doctors family?
Not only am I not free to make my choice today of what job I want to do, the jobs are much more demanding and take over your entire life.
You could live nicely just being a guard in the past, today you have to thrive for complete excelence if you want to eat, and because you aren't free to make this choice, you end up in many accepted jobs of today's society, which is when the website comes in. It tests people's self reported happiness of the existing job, not if they would be happy if they were doing this job, but within the people doing a certain job, how many of them are happy.

postmen in my country are underpaid truck/mototrcycle drivers. Like I mentioned above, the fact that you technically can choose anything, doesn't mean you really are free to choose everything. In this society if you are poor and need to eat you'll be a postman, and if you are rich and have doctor parents, you will most likely be a doctor. Sure there are exceptions, but that's the rule. I'm saying in the past, being a postman was as good of a job as being nearly anything else there was, the world was more equal in that sense and therefore you were more free to choose. Mlikmen not being a proffesion is also exactly my point - it used to be a proffesion and people -used to- be very happy doing it.

You also don't have a full choice today what you study, it depends on how well you did on certain tests, and if you did bad, if your parents are rich enough, you can still study what you want, if they aren't - you can't. Today's society is basically ruled by money, rich get richer. In the past you couldn't study what you want, but you were born into a "place" you were, going back to that example, a postman, that was who you are, and people knew you and liked you and you valued yourself for what became you.

"because the people who are likely to be happy with their professions, will not bother to participate."

Your claims are absurd and wrong. Many studies are done over the world, if they are done correctly, then they make sure to gather very specific criterias. If you say happy people won't answer the survey, that still doesn't explain why a lot more people working as accountants reported themselves miserable than people working as postmen, considering that in a proffesional research you have to test the same amount (or very similar amounts) of people from each criteria. Self reports today are -the only- way to define and recognize depression. Proffesionals ask their patients how they are feeling, and by their answers decide if they are clinically depressed or not. Some of the questions in the survey might have even been 'are you diagnosed as clinically depressed?" which they might be if they see a therapist. So that claim is just irrelevant.

"Also, as to current generations having better lives, there is a much better healthcare system in place now than there ever used to be. The mortality rate is lowering, meaning that people have a greater life expectancy"

studies actually show that elders are within the most miserable of them all.
go to the statistics by age, you will notice a major increase in suicide rates in people 65+. People at that age start being ill, and they can survive with modern medicine, but they still suffer pain, they can barely function, they are very dependant and feel they have lost their independence and are like children again. They grow more and more depressed, and I've personally heard more than one person over the age of 80 that told me people weren't meant to live that long.
We do increase our life span, I don't disagree about that. Is it for the better though?

"Instead of dying at 35"

???? I'm protecting about 3-4 generations back, so we are talking about birth year of 1900 at most.
So first I want to make a distinction between death under the age of 10 and death over that age. I say this because life expectancy includes peopel who died really young, and there was a high mortality at young ages, although those who survived those young ages made it through a lot more than the average life expectancy. It's important therefore to differe life expectancy and life span.
Your argument does not indicate that it's better to have a larger population, so I'm going to ignore the mortality under the ages of 10, and over the ages of 5 show you that the decrese is only those years that people life in depression and misery.
so by this chart, in 1900 you would live to be 58 if you survived up to the age of 10 (and 60 if you lived to be 20), and in 2004 you would live to be 76 if you survived to be 10. (for white males, taking them as an example and also they years, the numbers between 2004 and now haven't changed much)
If we go back to our suicide charts
you will notice that suicide rates increase between the ages of 55-64, exactly those ages that we now increased people living to.

So in fact, modern medication forcing us to live longer, has kmade us more miserable and suicide prone people.

also, you have not given an answer as to my claim that it's hard for a person to find himself in such a large society, and he can never be the best, and therefore can never be happy.

I want to sum up because it became a bit of a mess:

- in the past we could feel we are the best at something and therefore be more happy
-it was easier for us to find ourselves and our meaning, because everyting wasn't as big, because there weren't so many options and ideas around
- we lived to the perfect age for happiness, and modern medicine makes us more miserable by unnecessarily prolonging our lives.

more oppurtunities/being free to choose what to study or work at
- we still aren't free to choose because society still limits our thinking, through our parents telling us what they want of us, and becaues certain jobs can't provide for a family anymore.
- even if we did have mor oppurtunities, it would be a bad thing because choosing between so many things leaves a person not knowing who they are and where to take their self worth from.

and for all those reasons, I yearn to live like our past generations.
Debate Round No. 3


WithoutMercy forfeited this round.


to sum up, pro told us that this generation had it better, and brought valid things that happen in society today.
However, at no point did pro prove to us that those things were important , necessary or better than what used to be in the past.

I didn't disagree with what pro introduced us, I did however show that with every new thing that was introduced into our life, we actually created a more miserable society suffering from depression more often.

I showed that we aren't really free to choose today either, and also that supposing we were, we would have so many options to choose from, we couldn't make the decision.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by WithoutMercy 5 years ago
I am so sorry for not submitting my last argument or summing up, there was a massive storm and I lost power and my internet was disconnected for a few days, so I was unable to hop on and post my argument.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by hilton16 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: The fact that withoutmercy (con) says "had it better" doesn't prove that we had it better or our elders. its really a matter of opinion.