autumnsoliloquy90: (straight through the heart)
[personal profile] autumnsoliloquy90
TOEFL Vol 1 Official Practice Test #3

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

Life today is easier and more comfortable than it was when your grandparents were children.

There is a tendency for people to reminisce the past and hark back to a part of history when it felt like "the Golden Age". Don't we all have those moments where we see a glimpse of the past through sepia-coloured photos or noir films, and we just think to ourselves, "wouldn't it be great to have lived in that era?" However, if we actually lived the past firsthand, we might change our tune. Just looking through the annals of history reminds us that, in fact, our generation still has it much easier compared to our grandparents' generation.

It is probably difficult to imagine that life in the past--when people were more carefree, when our grandparents had less pressures from society to be productive-- is actually more challenging than it is now. It is easier to think of the past generations' time as "The Age of Innocence", when people were happier, their intentions purer and life supposedly much simpler. But the truth couldn't be more different. The average octagenarian today would have lived through some of the most trying periods in recent history: two world wars, the ever-looming threat of nuclear apocalypse brought by the Cold War between the nation-superpowers, periods of famine, worldwide pandemics and many other threats to their security and survival. Nowadays, the spread of information from all over the world at amazing speeds through social media and technology exacerbates the paranoia and despair evoked in us when we hear about depressing news on terrorism, war, strife, calamities happening everywhere. But the lack of this very technology during their time is exactly the reason why our grandparents had a harder time than we do today. It was not as convenient for their generation to organize into groups and create a global movement for their causes, in the same way that nowadays, we could start a wave of global revolutions through social media, exemplified in the Arab Spring revolutions. Furthermore, the older generation did not yet have the scientific technology and knowledge at that time to be as well-equipped as our generation is today in combating epidemics. Millions of people died in the Spanish flu pandemic, whereas despite the high lethality rates of recent outbreaks like the Ebola virus epidemic, these outbreaks have been easier to contain and manage due to medical advancements. Therefore, the mere fact that we now enjoy modern technology that our grandparents did not have in their youth, makes a compelling argument that our lives are indeed much easier today.

In a bigger picture, there are even more pieces of evidence to believe that indeed, life as we know it today pales in comparison to decades long gone, in terms of hardship. Compared to our grandparents' time, the world literacy rate has actually increased significantly, thanks to the success of the Global Development Initiatives. Just a few decades ago, certain groups of people were marginalized from society and were not granted access to rights such as education which would give them the opportunity for upward social mobility. While we are still far from achieving equal rights for everyone, the conditions have definitely improved significantly compared to the time when our grandparents were children, as we have seen progress in the women's rights and LGBT movement for example.

In conclusion, the progress that society has made over the last century alone makes it clear to us that we live in a time and age that provides significantly better conditions compared to the time of our grandparents' youth.

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December 2016

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