Merriam-Webster defines nostalgia as “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.” Nostalgia is a natural thing. And I don’t think it’s always a negative thing. But it’s something our society, or maybe just my generation, has become obsessed with. It has reached excessive.
Timehop and Facebook’s On this Day to see posts, pictures, and events of past
Reunion Tours to see all the music we grew up listening to (the best music, obviously)
TV Revivals to revisit the good shows, like they don’t make them anymore
Lists, lists and more lists explaining why our childhood was better
Why do we do this? I am the first to say I am absolutely guilty of this. I spent countless hours and amounts of money to make 4 giant scrapbooks documenting 5 years. I have flocked to live shows with Boyz II Men, En Vogue, Garth Brooks, Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls. I check Timehop religiously. And I love listing off things that kids in college don’t understand or know about (the ‘save’ symbol is a floppy disk….). Is it really that things were better than or are we just remembering them being better? It’s like the stories we heard our parents tell over and over…but on steroids because we have physical evidence.
But is this healthy? My answer is that it is to a certain extent. It’s good to have fond memories or even bad memories because we learn from history and from our mistakes. It becomes unhealthy when we fail to enjoy the present or look to the future because we are too busy harping on the past or comparing today to back when. I think we always look back with rose colored glasses. We remember the good things, the great things, the fun things. We downplay, or outright forget, the bad things and trying things.
Now I am not saying I’d prefer my favorite bands of the ’90s to not tour. I will pay for a ticket to their shows over Justin Bieber any day. I do think, though, that we have to be careful to not long for the past or the way things were. The past is the past. We gain nothing by focusing on it too much. Instead, laugh about a picture you see and use it to reconnect with the friend in the picture who you haven’t talked to in a year. Use a memory of a fun activity and recreate it with your friends or family. Enjoy today and make the most of every moment.