Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

Those were the days . . .

Should there be a minimum time period before we are allowed to get nostalgic about certain things?

I understand the allure of a possible ABBA reunion or last year’s 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind alubum. A respectable amount of time has elapsed since either were part of the zeitgeist and their now  mortgage-burdened fans have earned the right to once again smell the teen spirit.

But when the New York Times features a 21-year-old university student reminiscing about her love for boy wizard Harry Potter, I start to have an inkling of why the terrorists hate us.

“I associate Harry Potter with my childhood,” said Northwestern University student Becca Cadoff in 2009. “I couldn’t wait for the books to come out. We went to midnight parties at our bookstore in New Jersey.”

Ignore the fact that someone barely old enough to buy a drink is already talking about her “childhood”. This article was published less than two years after the final book was released and two years before the final movie rolled into theatres.

Feeling nostalgic about Pottermania in 2009 is like a One Direction fan trying to say “I like their old stuff better than their new stuff” but being interupted because recess is over.

Another example of this premature gazing into the metaphorical rear view mirror are YouTube recordings of  the sound of dial-up modems.

But the epitome of unwarranted nostalgia is this post which tries to portray CDs as vintage artifacts similar to the original Anarchy in the UK single or someone who cares what Alan Jones thinks.

You should only feel nostalgic about things you haven’t heard or seen for years – or even decades – not the So Fresh Hits of Summer 2002 you are currently using as a coaster.

So what is behind this outbreak of nostalgia among Generation Y? Has the Large Hadron Collider made time move faster, prematurely aging everyone born after 1984? Are they handing out rose tinted glasses at MGMT concerts?

I think it involves the extended adolescence 21st Century society has foisted upon twentysomethings.

By 25, baby boomers and even some older Gen X-ers had left home, bought a house and had children, possibly called Kylie or Jason. The generation before had done all that plus defeated the Nazis.

Compare this to a 25-year-old in 2012 still living with  their parents as they scrape together the $60,000 deposit needed to buy a 2×1 shoebox in the same time zone as their job, which may be outsourced to India next week, depending on what Europe does.

Robbed of the independence and financial security they had always associated with adulthood, those born in the late 80s and early 90s have instead been left with another grown up trait: whinging about how things were better in the past, even if the past in question was 2005.

I suppose I can’t begrudge them their nostalgia but I sound a warning. A respectful period must be observed before we start reminiscing about certain things, otherwise we run the risk of baby’s first words being “back in my day . . .”


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