The one where I’m unexpectedly nostalgic

I worked on this while I was supposed to be running this morning as a response to a post over at Beard Talks, so I felt it was only fair to post it. In his post, Josh Eddy talks about growing up in the 90’s and asks, do we fetishize nostalgia?

This is a great subject; you see, I am really a child of the 80’s and adolescent of the 90’s and so I have some of this nostalgia of which you speak. I remember Fraggle Rock, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, Silverhawks, Snorks, The Bugs Bunny and Tweety show, Kidbits (which may have been local to the Detroit/Windsor area,) and Bob Ross the ‘starving artist’ painter. I remember the 1982-1985 Detroit Tigers, and they were nigh unstoppable. There were ghetto blasters and cassette tapes, vinyl records, HBO that was hardwired to the TV before multi-channel cable came to town, break-dancing and graffiti, the Beastie Boys, Van Halen, Back to the Future… ewoks and Jabba the Hutt were exactly why Return of the Jedi was awesome. Then there was E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Spielberg was kicking butt and taking names before he became an icon. Before Will Smith was the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, we thought he was just hilarious in his rap videos, Parents Just Don’t Understand, I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson, and Nightmare on My Street. Before Alphonso Ribeiro was Carlton, he was Ricky Schroeder’s hip friend on the show Silver Spoons and boy, could he dance.

Our lives were largely lived around the television, much in the same way that they are lived around the Internet nowadays, except that when the toob turned off, we took that and talked about it the next day. Did you see the Simpsons last night? When Bart stole Grandpa’s teeth and was swinging from the ceiling fan? Now that we have the Internet, we’re often doing the same thing, but you have millions of memes, and nobody is seeing the same set of information twice. Maybe that’s affecting our real-world connectedness; a lot of us know about the double-rainbow guy, but the cat with the lightsaber thing, you might have only seen it if you follow George Takei on Facebook, and even then only if you caught his post in your newsfeed – unless you’re the stalkery-type that goes back through every post. If you want to keep up, you have to watch and read everything, which just isn’t going to happen; so you watch and read what you want, you create a sort of inner cult around that with yourself at the center, and the cool people follow you. This makes the world more increasingly self-centered and individualistic while leaving the increasingly illusory concept of community behind. I find that sad.

Now that I draw close to my 40th year (I will be 36 in just a few months) I find myself reaching back to that time in my memory. The 80’s: they were simpler times. Nobody fought over the President, because it seemed like everyone loved him. We could do more in relatively assured privacy. Our lives were never eaten up by TV the way they are by the Internet. I should have run this morning, but here I am! There was so much good about it, what about the bad? Bullies were real bullies, not just people who tortured you online – they did it to your face and they often hit you, too. People thought neon colors were cool, and denim jackets (shudder) with jeans. People could disappear without a trace because they didn’t have devices that constantly kept track of their whereabouts, whether they knew it or not. Did you know people had less money in the 80’s? And I’m not talking about inflation, or some mathematical trick. They made less and needed to spend less because the maw of corporate America was less desperate than it is now. Somewhere down the line someone figured out that the more money we make, the more of it that gets funneled up to the super-rich kings of the world. It’s crazy to think that our parents got by . . . on less! We brought down McDonald’s from their pedestal because they helped make America fat, and now here we are helplessly foundering in a land that doesn’t really want to help us find our way back to fit.

I would go back through this and at least get it onto a point, but I have got to go get ready for work. Do you have any thoughts? Let’s have this conversation; let us know in the comments below with kid-safe vocabulary. 🙂

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8 thoughts on “The one where I’m unexpectedly nostalgic”

  1. I really love that we are the same age..and thus share similar nostalgia.
    The simple life ..its absolutely what i want( i have a managed a good deal of simplicity into this chaos, for this im happy) ..this day and age saddens me as well as keeps me up at night.
    Here’s a crazy story..
    I go into a coma ..no internet..by the time i wake up prodigy and aol…true story.

    Just some thoughts.
    -down at fraggle rock.

      1. Its to this day not completely describable.
        After the coma i was in a wheel chair while learning to walk again…spent lots of time on prodigy lol.I was dumbfounded because you never regain that ‘ memory time’
        As soon as I could walk ( like two weeks after) i went to school in Ann Arbor.. crazy time.

        1. I remember back then the Net was the Wild West, chat rooms were just humming with electric conversation, proto-trolls were pretending to be slick hackers and you could meet just about anyone on there. What a time that was.

  2. Rob! You hit on one of the things that I forgot to mention. After posting I wondered “when we nostalgia fetishizers are older, will we continue to long for our childhood persay or just a decade ago, or two decades ago. Is what we are truly longing for eternity?”

  3. Thinking about some of the things you are saying about the 80s I can easily relate to in the 90s. Maybe it’s because of where I grew up and it being a little behind until the Internet became a big thing… But in my memory, everybody liked our president and people didn’t complain about politics as much. People really didn’t make much here (that’s why most of our population were in a constant migration to the next big job boom.) I remember having real bullies who would get in fights with me about what was on TV, I especially remember a frustrating fight about an episode of rugrats. I really do believe our fondest nostalgia is of out childhood, because after that we become super aware of everyone else and their opinions. Children are to busy learning about themselves and their opinions to be able to be concerned about what everyone else thinks.

    1. I often think too that part of it is a wish for less stress; and responsibility, which can be stressful. It seems like most of what regular people search for inside is peace of mind, and stress frustrates this quest.

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