Whether it be for the good old days when we were kids and had no responsibilities or for a seemingly magical summer gone past, nostalgia has always had its place in people’s lives. However, today’s youth seem to be more fixated on nostalgia than ever — but why?
The past few years have seen the resurgence of throwback or vintage culture. We have Spotify, but people are going out and buying vinyls and record players. We can shop anywhere in the world from the comfort of our own computers, but thrifting has somehow come back with a vengeance.
We even see companies trying to profit of this by selling vintage clothing with crazy markups or with merch from old movies and music becoming more popular. Te Jonas Brothers are back, Miley Cyrus is rocking that old Hannah Montana look again, and everyone is reliving their childhoods.
Everyone seems to be obsessed with going back to the good old days, and the reason is that people are so stressed out about their current and possible future lives that they look to the past as a form of escapist fantasy. Tings are moving so fast that people are looking for a reminder of simpler, more consistent times.
Generation Z and millennials have their childhoods characterized by rapid advancements in technology. Some people might even remember going from a chalkboard to a whiteboard then to a smart-board. Things change so fast in today’s world that people are looking for some stability, something apart from the crazy and constant barrage of new information we get every day.
This nostalgia phenomenon in culture is not new, however. We’ve all listened to our parents speak fondly of concerts they went to as kids or rolled our eyes as they would reminisce — for the umpteenth time — over the fun times they had during youth. Maybe, we even got our love for some throwback bands from them.
However, in a generation that is almost defined by its uncertainty and fear about the future, nostalgia has left the realm of fun pastime and entered into that of coping mechanism. With climate change looming and reaching the point of no return and the political climate of the world being so precariously balanced, fear for the future is rampant.
Seeing as we have until 2030 to make changes that will reverse climate change, if we are unable to do this, our generation will be the first to deal with climate change. We are also the generation that is witnessing the fall of the American dream. Working hard no longer directly equates to living a comfortable life, and you can’t put yourself through college working a part-time job.
There definitely are people out there making real and monumental strides to make the future a less scary place, but right now, it is all up in the air. So most people look to the past for simpler times, reminisce on good times gone by and make memes about the issues in our world right now to cope with the alarming uncertainty of it all.
I’ll be the first to say that nostalgia is my drug of choice. I will always look back on the past fondly and throw my favourite Destiny’s Child record on while obsessing over ’90s Chanel fashion shows. Nostalgia is a great escape, but at some point, we need to wake up and smell the climate change. Focusing on the past won’t stop the future from coming.
Graphic: Shawna Langer