Nostalgia, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. Nostalgia is that weird and indescribable feeling that you have when you look back to a moment of your life and remembers how good it felt.
Nostalgia is not necessary associated with something bad. In a way of speaking, it is great that we feel it, because it means that we experienced something beautiful and remarkable that even after years have passed by, still provokes our emotions and still makes us smile at that wonderful memory.
I am a true believer that our memories and past experiences influence our future and I value on the highest rank any memory and moment of my past life. The moments I laughed and cried are the moments that defined who I am and brought me to where I am today and I will always look back to this moments with my heart in my hands.
But recently I’ve been observing a different development of the ways people experience nostalgia, which have completely dissociated all the benefits of this bittersweet feeling and replaced it with what I believe to be one of the greatest problems of our current world: nostalgia is no longer remembering, but a failed and corrupted attempt of bringing back the past.
When I look for something to watch on the TV, all I can find is new versions of old time classics. There is a new take on the Snow White and Beauty on the Beast. New movies actually shows that a lot of the villains were victims. Pokemon has now three thousand different generations. All the TV shows I used to watch ten years ago now are releasing revivals. And although some of this new productions are great, most of them is just trying to revive that feeling and get the attention of those people that once loved this or that show.
In the attempt of reviving something that was successful ten years ago, the biggest accomplish is to ruin the memory and frustrate those who once actually enjoyed the originals.
Is it really possible that we have extinguished humanity’s available creativity and all that is left is reruns of what is already here?
But the corrupted experience of nostalgia doesn’t stop there. It is also present in every other aspect of out daily lives. People are too busy remembering and commenting on how great things used to be to focus on our recent challenges and opportunities. I have friends who spend hours commenting how great our lives were in high school and how hard things are now, instead of getting out of bed and looking for a job. Desperate to revive that nostalgic existence, they try to get back to who they were in that time of their lives, which only means that you don’t develop, but keep trying to be a person you were more than a decade ago. What a wasteful decision!
I am sure that we have all experienced great moments in our lives and we all feel nostalgic from times to times. I can also understand that when life is rough we tend to remember even more vividly those good times. What we can’t forget is that nostalgia is only good as a memory, and trying to live in the past will only cause us to waste our present. The same way, we many times remember only the goods, without remembering that even on our moments of greatness life presented its challenges and if we can now look at those moments with nostalgia, is only because they are now finished.
We don’t need more nostalgia, we need more people engaged with the present, more people visioning the future. We need more people who are ready to create and explore new good moments, new moments of greatness and face the challenges that our society presents to us now.