Remembering the past is great but it shouldn’t consume your existence.
When I was growing up there wasn’t a phrase I despised to hear from my parents more than “back in my day.” I swore to myself that I would never become that old fart that finds music too loud and kids these days a complete nuisance. However, in 2013, I feel like society is telling me otherwise.
It is funny that our generation is so immersed in today’s culture but still finds it so cool to say that they are disconnected from the present because they have nostalgia for “a simpler time.” Please make a note of this in your smart phones kids — it was not a simpler time.
There are several ways to suffer from nostalgia. A lot of us are stuck reminiscing about a time when we were all adolescents listening to our Walkmans as they looped a CD burnt with a bunch of Aaron Carter and S-Club 7 tracks. We will forever be 80s or 90s babies, and we never stop bringing it up.
The problem with nostalgia is that people seem to think that the decade that they grew up in is somewhat superior to the decade they live in now. In reality the decade had nothing to do with it; your nostalgia is an illusion.
What you are basing this kind of nostalgia on is not the sentimental absence of cell phones, or the return of your privacy in lieu of no social media, but rather the idea that it seemed like a simpler time because you were a simpler person.
Growing up in that decade meant you were just a kid with very little of the responsibilities that you have today. Getting a Gameboy for Christmas will of course trump the memory of working for three months so you can afford the PS4. It is more the content of the time than the context.
People who feel nostalgic are trapped in a past that they might have not even have lived in.
If you think I’m joking, please just look at the last Instagram filter you used to make your photo look like it was from the 80s. I’m sure you’ve heard of the person who will only watch black and white movies, just listens to vinyl or exclusively plays video games for the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m pretty much outlining the textbook hipster, but what people fail to notice is that anytime we bash our own generation’s accomplishments for the sake of nostalgia we are guilty of the hipster crime.
There is nothing wrong with cherishing memories of your life as you experience the world changing. There is only a problem when you begin to resent that change.
Before you insult today, think of all the things that you get from being alive in this decade that people of that so-called ‘simpler time’ did not have. I love reading my fantasy stories just as much as the next person but if we were all to live in medieval times it would be less A Game Of Thrones and more, “Get me the hell out of here.”
Am I travelling too far back? Well let’s try the good old Summer of ‘69, when minimum wage was about $1.00 and people fought for the slightest chance that I, an African-Canadian woman, could dare voice her opinion in a school paper. Or our good old pal the 90s, which gave us our beloved Pokemon cards, feel-good sitcoms like Boy Meets World and Full House. Yet in 1996 the gay rights movement took a step backwards in acceptance when the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act declared no state had to recognize a gay marriage, even if another state already has.
If all those changes seem too heavy-hearted for you, think of all the little things that you can do now.
Innovation in technology alone has made immense strides in the last few years alone. Today it is impossible to lose touch with anyone. If soldiers in the past could video chat their loved ones, do you think they wouldn’t be grateful? It is also easier to eat healthier, exercise, and be more environmentally conservative in the modern era than ever before.
Just the fact that we as a whole are now more open minded than a society has ever been and are more vocal about our rights shows that we’d be crazy to want to take a step backward.
Like any other group in history, we are flawed. The opportunities we have at our fingertips are more than even the most iconic figures of the past could have dreamed of — and that can be overwhelming.
With great power comes great responsibility, so if we don’t use or appreciate the gifts we are given by living in this time than it really isn’t anyone’s fault but our own.
The grass always seems greener on the other side of the time machine. But we should take a moment to truly consider what it means to live in our own time. Nostalgia is meant to remind you of the past, not keep you stuck in it.
Graphic: Mike Tremblay