40 Ways Things Are Getting Better

"What has gotten materially better in America in, say, the last twenty years?" So! Much!


"What has gotten materially better in America in, say, the last twenty years?" David Walsh, a University of Virginia postdoctoral fellow, casually asked on Twitter yesterday.

Hundreds of responses poured in, citing everything from consumer goods to medical treatments to cultural attitudes, laws, and Brussels sprouts.

The overwhelming number of responses and their variety provides a nice reminder that a lot of stuff really has been getting better over the past few decades and American society isn't really the perpetual motion fail machine many people make it out to be. In the interest of celebrating progress, here's a sampling (in no particular order) of those responses…

What's Gotten Better in the Past 20 Years?

1. Home entertainment

2. Crime rates

3. Micromobility options

4. Better cannabis quality

5. Information access:

6. Acceptance of neurodiversity

7. Restaurant food variety and quality

8. Attitudes toward LGBTQ people and their treatment under the law:

9. Convenience food options

10. Being an introvert and/or misanthrope:

11. The digital reading experience:

12. HIV care:

13. Alcohol options:

14. Options if you don't want alcohol:

15. Mental health treatment: 

16. Automobile efficiency and safety:

17. Transportation options for people without cars

18. The ability to get around without getting lost

19. Specialty diet/food options

20. Being a nerd

21. Phone calls (or lack of them)

22. Getting dressed

23. Cancer treatment

24. Weather reports

25. Bicycling infrastructure

26. Cameras

27. Avocado access

28. Hygiene products

29. Video games

30. Access to fruits and vegetables

31. Gambling laws

32. Movie theaters

33. Digital video

34. Democratization of the public sphere

35. Clean energy

36. Access to diverse music

37. Body positivity

38. Smoking rates

39. Carbonated beverages

40. A lot of people's behinds, apparently

Answers relating to food, alcohol, marijuana, coffee, computing, and TV—areas no one can deny have improved since the turn of the century—seem to be the most prevalent. And, despite a diverse set of answers both quirky and serious, there's still a whole lot of progress that's gone unmentioned. As a number of people commented, it may be easier to list things that haven't gotten better over the past two decades.