Along the lines of "things used to be better in the days," I know a girl who is convinced she'd be happier if she'd been raised in the palaeolithic. She's sure that it was idyllic utopia with no social problems because people were living naturally. All illnesses could be cured by natural herbs and anyway, don't you know that most diseases like cancer are cured [caused?] solely by our unnatural modern lifestyle?
She's so sensible in other ways that I'm baffled.
She does have a point. Most communicable disease epidemics didn't arise until the development of cities and widespread travel. If you, as one of a band of nomadic hunter-gatherers, somehow have a harmless virus mutate into chicken pox, then once it's gone through everyone in the band, that virus has reached a dead end. There's nobody left to infect. They're all either immune or dead. You need a population that constantly replenishes itself with new members, either by birthrate or by immigration, for chicken pox to really take hold, because now it has new hosts. Replace 'chicken pox' with almost any other human-specific communicable disease.
No, they didn't often have cancer -- most cancers generally take time to develop, and they didn't live long enough for one to take hold. If you lived long enough to see your grandchildren (at the ripe old age of 25-30) that was wondrous.
But "idyllic utopia?" Interpersonal problems still existed -- those didn't arise from city living! Think about that nasty bully who tormented you in 3rd grade. Now imagine that there is no way to get away from him, because his parents are in the same band as your parents. Great good gods, just read "Clan of the Cave Bear." Broud was a bully who had a position of power. If he hadn't had Ayla as a victim, he would have chosen someone else.
And Ayla's herbs couldn't cure everything. If you had appendicitis, if you were gored by a prey animal or attacked by a predator, if you had almost any infection, you were going to DIE, horribly and painfully. If you broke a leg, you were probably crippled for life.
You probably gave birth to your first child within a year of menarche. Half of your children didn't live long enough to see their first year. Half of those who reached their first birthday didn't live to see their fifth. If you needed a c-section, you couldn't get one, and your baby died. You probably died too. (That was the origin of the name "caesarian section" -- it was an order from one of the Roman emperors, that if a pregnant woman died, she was to be cut open in an attempt to save the baby.) If your child had a birth defect, it died, either naturally or through exposure. If it was born too early, it died.
And none of that was speculation. That was all recorded in the 19th century, among the "natural, close-to-nature" Native Americans. Need I go on?