Some have called nostalgia a sickness, but I think of nostalgia as if it were a tub of icing — benign and enjoyable when smeared lightly on the top of things, but if you slam your fist inside your mouth and lick it clean, you’ll throw up for hours and hours.
The point is, nostalgia is good in small doses. It allows us to not just take solace in the warm memories of the past, but it also lets us accurately assess and feel the loss of things once familiar as they are crushed under the road roller of progress. That’s vital for some of us who were raised in a different world than the one we presently inhabit.
Think about it: if you were born between 1973 and 1988, either your prime or the more sentient portion of your adolescence (leading into your prime years) has been spent within the digital revolution that has been raging for the last 15 years or so. You likely remember what the word convenience used to mean, and you can vaguely recall introspection, nature, and the torture of having to buy an entire album. When people joke about corded phones and the old days, you slump in your chair and hope that nobody realizes that you can — even now — use a rotary phone.
We are children from another realm, and yet, we have mostly assimilated, and unlike some of our elders, we really like it.
We like our convenient smart phones with their time-saving apps. We like TV when we want it, how we want it. We love the internet, where there’s always a mindless game to play or a worthless thought to share, and where we never have a question that can’t be answered by Google; a porn filled giver of knowledge and .gifs.
As the saying goes, “technology has given us time and limitless ways to waste it”, but it has also slaughtered many of our sacred cows, leaving us with a palpable guilt that, nonetheless, does not restrict our actions.
Mourn with me now over the death of bookstores and record shops while thumbing an E-reader as Spotify plays in the background. The younglings never had a chance to develop an appreciation for these things that we purportedly love because they saw us fleeing from these institutions like rats from a urine flood. More than anything other than the natural evolution of things and technology, we killed paper and we killed wax, and now there is tape in our teeth.
Blockbuster is dead, and with it, the notion of the “video store” and our ability to go to these metaphorical orchards that were filled with strange and miraculous films that were ripe for the plucking. Can’t you remember a time when you were hypnotized by a box cover and seduced by the alluring description of the adventure therein, walking up to the counter with an arm-full of tapes for a personal film festival, the theme of which only you could understand?
Back then, we could explore and be adventurous as we were guided by all-knowing rock stars who did nothing but ring up customers and watch movies all day. Now, we are on our own in the antiseptic wasteland of vending machines and VOD, our exploration limited to the top 20 releases of the moment and stymied by flawed algorithms that constantly suggest things that are like the other things that we have seen before.
Sure, it’s more convenient and some of us can navigate the digital realm with great skill, but there are a lot of people who take the convenience of digital as an invitation to lazily take in only that which is put in front of them, and that leaves a lot of good films in the dark cold emptiness and a lot of minds un-stretched.
So, feel nostalgic and cry tears of yellow and blue (even though Blockbuster’s existence sucked the blood out of the neck of the Mom and Pop video stores where most of our memories were forged), and then embrace the spirit of your inner $1 rack warrior and try to find some weird shit on Netflix before happily settling in for your third viewing of Olympus Has Fallen or the miracle that is an uninterrupted season of Breaking Bad.
Progress: I hate that I love it as much as I do.