Overthinking Everything: Nostalgia Is Not a Contest

So I've discovered Tumblr...  Like most social venues online, it's equal parts awesome & awful.  One thing I've noticed, though, is that there is a definite age division, and being in my 30s, I'm practically a senior citizen on the site.  It's weird to see stuff from late high school & college being described as "part of our childhood", but it's also an interesting perspective.  One thing I have noticed, however, is a resentment towards non-90s nostalgia, and that bothers me.

I first saw this during a discussion about the novel Ready Player One, a really enjoyable sci-fi story that is built around crazy levels of 80s nostalgia.  Some people who read it appreciated it for what it is and posited what a 90s-centric version of the novel would include.  This quickly deteriorated into people hating on the book for not being about 90s nostalgia and wondering why anyone would be nostalgic for any other era.  I understand why that generation resents others' nostalgia - for the longest time, until we started becoming parents with disposable income to help turn a profit, GenX & GenY's nostalgia was largely written off as worthless.  The feelings kicked in at least a decade before it became seen as (in an apt yet crass term) a viable market.  So eventually we'll be getting NatGeo specials (that are the last watchable thing on that network) about how the 90s shaped us and novels where there are immersive VR games involving reenacting Jurassic Park.  It's really just a matter of time.

I understand the impulse to hate on others' nostalgia; for the longest time, like I said, we were force-fed Baby Boomers' 50s & 60s nostalgia and told that any we felt was inherently worthless.  But I think there's a difference.  The Baby Boomers' nostalgia is very disingenuous; where we feel that the 70s & 80s are worth remembering even though they weren't perfect, the Boomers' nostalgia is devoted to whitewashing away anything negative about the 50s & 60s (and that's quite a bit).  So for the longest time, we were told that our honest views of our past were worthless, while their super-super-dishonest views of theirs were the only way to view nostalgia.  It was quite annoying, and it's only started to ebb thanks to the earlier mentioned earning power our nostalgia now has.

I mention this because I understand the resentment you feel when you're told that all the stuff that made you happy as a child was worthless crap.  I appreciate the value Baby Boomers' nostalgia holds for them, even as I wish it was more honest about the world from which it originates.  As for the book that started all this, I do feel that Ready Player One brings a little too much of that "rose colored glasses" view to the 80s for my tastes, but it's still a fun read.  I don't want 90s kids to be as resentful to our nostalgia as our parents were.  Nostalgia is supposed to be a fun escape into a happier past, so it has no reason to be a contest.  Just enjoy your past, appreciate its good AND bad aspects, and be willing to see what holds value in others' pasts as well.  It's not like there's a "Best Nostalgia" trophy to be had.


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