Brain Game: What is something from the past that is better than what exists today, and why? (Round 3)

  • The writing competition starts with 10 contestants, who are eliminated one at a time based on a combination of your votes and YP editors’ picks – who will you choose?
  • This week, contestants discuss how people used to express gratitude, what the natural environment used to be like, and more
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Read through the responses to this week’s Brain Game prompt, and choose which answer you like most. Based on a combination of your votes and YP editors’ picks, we will eliminate one contestant from the competition.

Contestant 1

Expressing gratitude. In the past, people showed their appreciation through handwritten “thank you” cards. This took time and effort, and the words would express their sincerity and thoughtfulness. Nowadays, I don’t see such cards even in stationery stores which mostly sell birthday cards and other congratulatory messages. Most people now say “thanks” along with a smiling emoji on an instant messaging platform. This lacks warmth and does not convey your personal feelings.

Contestant 2

The simple life in the past is better than the fast-paced modern lifestyle. For example, both students and adults in Hong Kong are stressed and have to work very hard to do well in exams or make a living. Students need to attend tutorial classes and extracurricular activities, which puts them under immense pressure. But decades ago, when the city was still an undeveloped fishing village, people led a relaxed lifestyle, enjoying every precious moment in their lives. I really hope that we can go back to the good old days when everything was so simple.

What would it be like to go back to a time when Hong Kong didn’t have the MTR or sky-high buildings? Photo: Shutterstock

Contestant 3

The climate. Global warming is having a big impact on both the environment and humans. It is threatening people with food and water shortages, increased flooding, extreme heat, and more diseases. This is why I miss the past when people hadn’t polluted the Earth and carbon emissions were lower which helped our planet thrive.

Contestant 4

Friendship with neighbours. My mum had a strong relationship with her neighbours when she was growing up, but I barely know the people next door. My mum shares interesting stories about her and her neighbours when she was a child. For example, she would stay with them when there was no one at home. They even prepared lunch for her. Of course, they used to argue sometimes, but they were minor quarrels. Now, my neighbours are like strangers; I long for the good old days.

Posting about Hongkongers’ home-cooked food to record city’s memories

Contestant 5

Ancient craftsmanship. The Terracotta Army was built by the first emperor of the Qin dynasty (221-206BC) and was meant to protect the ruler in the afterlife. Each sculpture was unique and depicted a human’s facial expressions and was preserved for thousands of years. The army, which comprises more than 7,000 warriors, 600 horses and 100 chariots, must have required very high levels of craftsmanship and artistry. Even today’s advanced technology cannot figure out how those sculptures were made.

Contestant 6

The early years of YouTube. Back in those days, it was a platform for sharing personal videos, while the content was less restricted and more diverse. People respected each other’s views and were free to dislike videos. But today’s YouTube is highly restricted. You can be banned for posting even slightly disturbing content while it is difficult to recognise fake news after the platform removed the dislike button from public view. People also quarrel over petty matters simply because they have a different opinion. I definitely miss the old YouTube!

YouTube has changed a lot since it was first started in 2005. Photo: Shutterstock

Contestant 7

Good neighbourly relationships. Do you know the people living next door? Probably not. My grandparents said they were friends with their neighbours. I thought this was strange and asked my mum why they would talk to their neighbours. She said that in the past people usually had close relationships with their neighbours. Some would even leave their children with them when they went to work. But people nowadays seldom do that. I hope the bonding and trust between people today could return to how it was in the past.

Contestant 8

Our environment. Owing to destructive human activities, like logging, hunting and mining, rainforests around the world are now much worse off than they were before. Once oil, timber or minerals in a particular area are exhausted, people move on to the next one, leaving a degraded environment behind. Many native animal and plant species have become extinct while others are struggling to survive. Many of the effects of human-induced destruction of the rainforests are probably irreversible within our time.

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