I was perusing the live feed of my facebook account, as one does, when a friend from years ago popped up with a status that intrigued me.
Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
After laughing briefly at the comments that followed, which included a posting that stated “nostalgia is for bitches…reminiscing is where it’s at”, I began to ponder whether in the wake of a constant influx of “new” old material being uploaded to the internet, the modern age had, in fact, lost the romanticism of nostalgia, or lost the notions of romanticism and nostalgia in and of themselves.
I don’t think that there are many moments as individuals within Western civilization that allow us to truly BE individuals in thought or experience, since the majority of our collective pop cultured consciousness has been bred not by the political or philosophical musings of artists or idealists, but instead cultivated by industrious Borglike mass-marketers, more so now than ever before. As a result, we are living in an era of constantly upgrading postfuturism, or to define my terms more analogously, in a time where the future expected by the science fiction and predicted shark-finned flying Cadillacs of the 1950’s was bypassed entirely for unexpected and clunky technological evolutions that never gave us hoverboards. Because we were denied the fulfillment of mass-marketed imaginary ideals, our culture instead compiled our movements and historical moments into a production line of new technology — network projected events, which are then dubbed to video are finally uploaded to YouTube to be relived on a whim at the click of a virtual button. This defies the possibility for the individual’s personal psychic nostalgia, as instead we are yoked to 90-second clips which evoke sensory reminiscences from experiences had across the board by the Boomer’s Children’s Children’s Children.
It’s not to say that, for example, when compared with the amount of branding and marketing from eras past, that the current age is disallowing for nostalgic reminiscence only by lacking a previous element of simplicity. If anything, the more subtle and crafty modern age multi-leveled marketing burrows more deeply and cleverly into the subconscious without announcing intentions, thereby duping the rube society into the belief in the “hidden” value of immediately displaying then discarding the appropriate movement-of-the-microsecond, whereas previously in marketing and advertising products, movements and agendas, the overt and simplistic messages prodded the individual into taking a stance they could stand behind.
I don’t, as you might quickly concur, think that as a result we are culturally less aware of such infiltration than we would have been in previous eras, in fact the opposite is my contention. However, I think that it’s the acceptance of nonreality as reality that has restructured the capacity for sensory interaction with the physical world, leaving us unable to experience it as true individuals.
How does this defeat our senses of romanticism and nostalgia, you ask? Because we are (if I can believe the hype and anchor my argument to my earlier statements) bred in a bubble, we therefore can’t help but be nostalgic for the same bulletpointed products, programs and literature as the next individual-cum-autocrat in our age cohort, though they may prefer a different tune, style of dress, or predilection to substance. Derived from the same sap, the syrup is inevitably the same, though it contrives to taste a world apart. Zapping the notion of individuality through the realization that we have all been cut from different parts of the same cloth, it’s difficult to imagine that whatever love, suffering, humor or humiliation we experience as individuals is little more than a reproduction of a reproduction, and as a result, personal nostalgia ceases to exist beyond imitated moments of swelling violins in Ron Howard films. Unsubtle tones denoting what the individual should feel, and when, and for how long, until another moment arrives, it too defined by minute changes in the soundtrack.
This ill-articulated rant was brought about by a brief flickering on a screen I noticed between picking through battered and stained copies of reproduced Classic literature, and paradoxically I felt as though I could detract or unplug myself from feeling contempt for lacking individuality by expressing my “romantic achings for nostalgia in an age bereft of culture” by plugging my ramblings back into the machine I declared had diseased it in the first place.