Nostalgia Goggles

Good day, dear readers. I’m back in the year of 2023 for more of my usual bloggings, reviews and lukewarm takes! This post was due to be drafted, written and posted in February but it ended up being a hell of a month: Loads of close friends, as well as myself, have February birthdays. Alongside that, while celebrating the big three-oh I managed to catch a nasty case of food poisoning! So here we are in the early-ish March with my latest big of scribbling: We’re getting all warm and fuzzy while talking about nostalgia goggles.

Nostalgia is a wonderfully warm, fuzzy feeling: It might be brought on by the jingle of a long-forgotten advert or sitting down to play the games we used to love as a child. The sense of comfort, familiarity, and sometimes “feeling like a kid again” is hard to match. Today’s post wont focus on the incessant weaponization/ monetisation of our nostalgia, but the more human angle of what our nostalgia means to us. And, more specifically, the problem with getting too attached to those warm fuzzies.

Almost everyone has something they’re nostalgic for. At my big age of 30 I can boot up the original trilogy of Spyro the Dragon games and happily sit and play them for hours. I don’t get quite the same level of enjoyment as I did originally, but there’s something both fun and comforting about revisiting those virtual worlds I spent many hours exploring in my youth. Similarly, it’s only in the last few years that I’ve kicked the life-long habit of buying Nintendo consoles purely to play the newest Pókemon game. I could go on, but the point is this: I get it. I am as susceptible as most people to the soothing familiarity of nostalgia.

When you’re nostalgic for something, you attach extra value to it. It goes from just being something you liked to something more meaningful. Some people even develop life-long loves of whatever they enjoyed as a kid: Whether it’s me and Pokémon, the Disney Adults that watch the movies on repeat, something you loved as a child can become a core part of your identity (sometimes to an unhealthy degree). What I’ve noticed, especially with the special kind of discussions you can have On The Internet, is that many people lose any sense that they have an entirely subjective attachment to/ opinion of something.

Let’s say someone is reviewing the latest movie in a franchise you have loved since you were a kid. You went to see it, and you really liked it – it reminded you of going to the movies with your big brother when you were younger, of simpler times, or something. But someone has reviewed the latest movie and boy, were they not impressed. Reading the review upsets you a little, maybe even gets you angry. How dare they call the thing rubbish – I liked it?! If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, I have some bad news for you:

Just because you think something is good, that does not make it objectively good.

Frankly, this goes for any kind of criticism/ opinion, but that’s another post for another time. Specifically relating to nostalgia; another person may not be approaching this movie with the same positive attachment that you have, and so they do not get that extra meaning or enjoyment from it. From their experience, judging it by whatever they saw in it, they’ve found it lacking. Maybe they’ve written something really nasty about it, and that just hurts you more. It’s worse when we’re talking about something that you’ve built your entire life around: A scathing review against the latest Star Wars show might feel a lot more personal if you’re reading it while surrounded your brand-new Lego set, and expansive steel book BluRay collection and your Clone Wars figurines. Here I can be the bearer of some better news:

You’re not an idiot for liking something other people don’t like. However, have awareness of how your nostalgic attachment might be affecting your opinion of something.

This kind of awareness about ourselves is a skill of sorts, and not one we are often required to practise. But trying to exercise it can lead to many more interesting – and calmer – discussions with those around you. Try to accept that most people won’t have that attachment to something, and that you shouldn’t let their negative view ruin your enjoyment of it. In that sense, acknowledging and accepting your nostalgia is sort of freeing: You can’t help feeling it, and you can’t help that other people don’t feel it. It will forever be an emotional gap between you and some other people in life, and as with many parts of life, that’s perfectly normal. That person not liking your favourite childhood book isn’t an attack on you, the book doesn’t need defending, and you shouldn’t attack them back because they don’t agree. No one experience is more or less valid than another.

Apart from the staunch Star Wars prequel defenders, that is. They’re objectively wrong and should pack it in right now.

And there you have it, dear readers. It’s a bit of a ramble compared to my usual fare, but it’s about something I’ve been encountering a lot lately in discussions both with friends and Strangers On the Internet. I hope it doesn’t come across as a lecture; on the other hand, some people really do need to be told this sort of thing to facilitate more constructive discussions and discourse! I struggled to find a fitting picture for this post, so steampunk goggles it was – maybe I’ll replace it with something more relevant later…

As I hinted above, I do plan to write a sort of companion piece/ sequel etc. on what I think are better, healthier ways to be critical of, and discuss differing opinions on, art at large. However, it’s taken me months of thoughts going in circles to write about this topic, so it probably won’t be my next post. In 2023 I’m aiming for a post at least every 2 months, as with last year. However, life has a funny way of absolutely buggering up your schedule like there’s not only no tomorrow, but if there were you’re fully booked.

Please do let me know what you think in a comment below, or perhaps on my Twitter here. Or perhaps you’ve got change kicking about, and fancy donating to the cause (of me writing this sort of thing)? Well, do I have just the place for that spare change: Right over here in my Ko-Fi! Until next time, thank you for reading and take care!

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