The Nostalgia Is Dead

Today, I found myself in my hometown.

I always thought revisiting the places I grew up in would overwhelm me with nostalgia, to the point I might get teary-eyed. Turns out my brain doesn’t care.

I was able to recognize several street names, I remember what the city looked like – I knew when I wasn’t in the town I work in anymore – and I could recall the inside of some buildings like the public library and the elementary school I attended. Some areas felt like they should be familiar, but I couldn’t place if I’d been there or not.

As strange as it sounds, I’m a little sad I didn’t have nostalgia. Ultimately, driving through my hometown didn’t feel much different than driving through other towns. The faint feeling of familiarity was the only difference.

Since I am nostalgic about some things from my childhood, I can’t help wondering why not even driving past my elementary school triggered feelings. Have too many years passed? Is it that I don’t remember most of my childhood? Is it because most of what I do remember is negative?

The things I’m nostalgic for are trivial; playing in the sandbox with my friends (whose full names I still remember) in kindergarten, cartoons and sitcoms I grew up watching that are off the air, playing on the playground without thinking it’s weird, my pet cat (I haven’t had another pet since he died), being able to climb and hoisting myself to the top of street signs, the many kid websites I used to play with (all but one – Neopets – no longer exist). The major things – like family and school – are experiences I’d prefer death to reliving. In fact, as I passed the other end of the sidewalk the school is on, I had one such thought: “Oh, there are the bushes my grandmother used to break switches off and beat me with.”

As I type that, another memory that immediately comes to my mind is my mother screaming at me “Have you been acting like that” and smacking me with a belt.

With those thoughts, maybe it isn’t so surprising nostalgia didn’t happen. Maybe the lack of nostalgia is my mind’s way of being protective. My very first childhood memory is a traumatic event. Maybe that shaped a part of me.

In my own mind, my life started at age four. The second memory after that first one is walking into preschool. I have more memories from kindergarten, but regardless, it’s hard to believe that small girl is now a centimeter shy of 5’4″. Though I can recall fragments of my childhood, I cannot recall being so small. I don’t feel like I was, despite I know I was.

Even my high school years have mostly faded from my mind, though again, I wonder if it’s a self-conscious protection because I hated my school years.

It’s said nostalgia makes the past seem better than it was. Perhaps that why I didn’t have any nostalgic feelings as I drove through my hometown. Because although I truly miss some things, I know the past was not better than the present, and nostalgia is not enough to filter it.

Or maybe it’s that nothing is really there for me anymore. I don’t have friends or family there to visit, I don’t work there, and any travel there would merely be passing through. Maybe I moved on without noticing. Maybe it’s that adulthood has uncovered family secrets I didn’t know during childhood.

Am I thinking too much about this? Most likely. I can’t say the past doesn’t matter because it built me into who I am. That past is part of why, for example, I don’t want to be a parent (although the present certainly tops the list of reasons!). The present is depressing and I believe the near and far future is dim. I’m unsure what does matter.

But since my attempts to part with this world never saw light outside of my head, my only choice is to see it.

It seems I will.

 

Label You, Not Me

Labels are a popular topic on social media, especially in places like Tumblr that preach about not letting labels define you (ironically, while tossing them about like candy). Personally, I think it’s fine if you want to refer to yourself as something and label yourself, but not a good idea to let other people do it. Why? Well, that should be obvious. You get situations like what happened to me. And that’s a light example, compared to most of the things I’ve had said about me, both behind my back and to my face.

It’s funny how we can know what someone says about us isn’t true, but it can still bother us. Maybe because such people have the audacity to tell lies in the first place. Really, I don’t know what I expected from someone with that blog URL. That really should’ve make it obvious the person behind that blog is the type to tell lies and make false accusations.

The reason this comes to mind is out of everything I’ve ever been called, why am I treating “nostalgic” like a crisis? Or “blind”? Or “biased”? Or even “hater”? First of all, I am blind anyway. That’s why I wear eyeglasses. I have been called racial slurs before. Kindergartners have outdone that person when it comes to insults and I’m talking about back when I was one.

I’ve mentioned at least once before I like making lists. So, I’m going to do just that. Let’s go down the list of “nostalgic, blind, biased hater” and see how far we get.

Nostalgic

Let’s see. I saw Zootopia back in March and Try Everything is in my playlist. I saw The Jungle Book in April and the very awesome remix of The Bare Necessities is also in said playlist. Other movies I’m looking forward to are Storks and the new Disney Princess movie, Moana. And let’s not forget I enjoyed Inside Out, Big Hero 6, and…oh, yeah. I’m obsessed with Frozen and Frozen Fever. Did I mention those last two are actually hated so much, anyone who likes them is essentially deemed to not have a brain of their own? I’m also planning to watch Disney’s new show, Elena of Avalor, when it’s released. That’ll be the first show I’ve watched regularly on Disney Junior.

Blind

I wear eyeglasses, so physically, I am blind. What am I supposed to do about that? Talk to my genetics. Or my eyeballs. Whichever. Non-physically? You know what? I wish I was blind! Then, I wouldn’t see and be scarred by even half the nonsense I’ve dealt with over my life. Maybe being blind would’ve helped me deal with abuse and bullying better by virtue of not knowing it was happening. They do say ignorance is bliss, after all.

Biased

I’ve already talked about how deeming whoever doesn’t think like you is biased in itself, so I don’t need to delve much into this one. Let me sum it up: they’re called preferences. Just like how I think blue is a nicer color than pink. If we go with this “you only like something better because you grew up with it” logic (and I’ve already explained the fallacy in that regarding myself too!), I should despise blue and adore pink. But I don’t. I like pink, but it’s definitely not my favorite color and I do think blue is nicer. Make it blue!

Hater

I yell. I’m hot-headed. I will never deny that. Hateful, however? Hmm. I have an idea. Go talk to my best friend and ask her how hateful I am. Talk to my boyfriend too. Also, talk to the kids I look after. You can even talk to some of my family members. I do hate some people, obviously, and I hate some things, like how violence exists. I’ve said before I’m a cynic. And yes, this is an interesting choice of an insult. You’d think a hater wouldn’t have loved ones, yet I do. In fact, one of those loved ones is my abuser, who I’ve tried numerous times to reconcile with and the attempts keep falling out. So much for that.

Wouldn’t you know? None of these insults are true. Of course, I knew that, but the person who throws them doesn’t know that about me or anyone else these words have been thrown at. And how could they? It really does stun me how after all the nonsense I’ve dealt with, I can still be shocked people make snap judgements like that. Then again, I do it too, hence why I’ve been trying to teach myself not to do that. It’s harder than it seems, but if I weren’t trying, I wouldn’t write posts like these.

It will never sit well with me someone could tell lies about and falsely accuse me of things with no repercussions, but at the same time, it’s another thing I’m used to. My bullies got away with their actions, my abuser got away with hers, so why wouldn’t someone who tells lies about me on the internet, a place of complete anonymity if one allows, get away with their actions as well?

Plus, there’s the simple fact someone will always hate someone else and have trash to say. There’s nothing that can ever be done about that.

Drama-ix Club

It’s funny now that I’ve left the Winx fandom, I have so much to say about it. Granted, it is all related to my own experiences.

Since I began talking to my friends within the fandom, I’ve been considering rejoining the fandom. I do miss having a lot of people to talk with about the show and I miss when my main Tumblr blog was about 75% Winx posts. I surfed through the archive of that blog one day and at one point, I was regularly posting things related to Winx Club. I made a lot of small edits and took a lot of screenshots just for the sake of having fun and posting in the fandom. I can’t deny it’s a period I miss.

However, I’ve ultimately decided against returning. It’s a little lonely without the fandom, but it’s drama and stress with them. Now that I’m out of the fandom and looking at it from the outside, I’m beginning to wonder if there were some warning signs I missed that the fandom was beginning to tumble. One example from the top of my head is a user who would get angry and offended if you made any comment about the show they didn’t agree with that happened to be on a post of theirs. I once commented the group’s new style of civilian wear hadn’t yet grown on me and this person snapped at me. I still don’t see how “This style still hasn’t grown on me. I hope it does eventually,” is an offensive or even negative comment, but apparently, it is. I’ve begun to feel like that should’ve been a hint for me something was changing in the fandom.

It’s a way I used to behave as well. I grew out of it over time, but supposedly, the Winx fandom is composed of older fans, so maybe it is acceptable within that fandom. That’s odd to me because I recall someone saying they hope the nostalgic people will welcome newcomers to the fandom and while it’s only my opinion, I’d be more inclined to turn away from a new fandom if I saw people accusing others of being hateful, blinded, or biased because of nostalgia than because some people didn’t like the newer stuff. Some Disney fans don’t like any Disney movie beyond 2010, but I’m still part of the Disney fandom, to the point I wish Moana would hurry up and be released already! 😆

Speaking of newcomers, that’s another problem that’s recently come to mind. The people who make the “nostalgic and biased” argument assume anyone who likes the older seasons best (1 -3 or 1 -4) only feels that way out of nostalgia, but what about the fans who did not grow up with the show? I first saw Winx Club at 10 years old, but I didn’t watch it regularly. The most I saw on TV were a few episodes from the middle of the second season.  Yes, I liked the show and thought it was cute, but I didn’t really get into the show so heavily until I was about 16 or 17 after I’d watched all of the available seasons at that time on the internet. I’m now 22 years old. How the heck can I “grow up” with something in five to six years, especially considering the show wasn’t airing in America for two or three of those years? I’m positive I didn’t jump out of my mother’s womb as a teenager in 2010 unless I was somehow reincarnated and all my memories pre-2010 are from a past life.

Some of my friends are also friends with those people in the fandom and that’s probably the biggest reason I will not rejoin. I am not a homewrecker. I’m not going to make waves, potentially get into arguments with those people, and possibly put my friends into the awkward position of who to side with or, worse, staying neutral about it (you are only allowed like the old and new stuff if you prefer the new stuff over the old stuff; there is no neutrality or equality. You must pick a side and if you pick the wrong side, you’re toast). That’s why I’ve also decided to let go of that incident that happened back in March. I hate that person for what she did, but she’s the friend of one of my friends in the fandom (something I didn’t discover until recently). My friends’ other friendships mean more to me than my feelings and I refuse to risk wrecking someone’s friendship because their friend wronged me. That doesn’t make me any better. I’d only be hurting someone I care about for the sake of getting revenge on someone else. That’s not how you treat your friends!

I’ll keep asking periodically what’s going on and if there’s anything new because my interest in Winx hasn’t diminished, but rejoining the fandom is out of the question. If this whole “you only dislike the new stuff because you’re blinded and biased from nostalgia” blows over, I may reconsider. I was even thinking about creating a “holding blog”, so to speak, in case I ever do change my mind. For now, however, the answer to whether or not I’ll rejoin is an absolute no.

Who’s Biased?

There is something that really nags me when someone claims a person is biased or blinded by nostalgia because they don’t like a certain thing. That’s a biased view within itself!

First off, it suggests everyone should like something and that’s completely unrealistic. There is nothing that’s liked by absolutely everyone. People who do like the same thing may not like it for the same reason(s). For example, one reason I adore Frozen is I strongly relate to both Elsa and Anna. However, some people who like Frozen don’t relate to Elsa and Anna, but like them as the characters they are.

Another problem with the idea that nostalgia creates biases and blindness is it suggests the only reason someone would not like something is liking its previous version(s). This isolates people who like both the old and new, and completely ignores people who dislike the new version without ever having seen the old. How does it make it sense to deem someone biased for disliking a new form of something when their first experience with it is the new form?

This idea also suggests people don’t ever complain about things they like and I’d expect anyone old enough to browse the internet unsupervised to know that is a huge lie. In life, people complain about their families, their friends, their job, their school, and other aspects of their lives, yet they may still be very happy with those aspects. To use Frozen again as an example, a complaint of the film I’ve had since I first saw it is why the trolls erased Anna’s memory. In spite of that, and few others I have about the film, I still very much adore it. Yet there are some people who believe if you have so much as a single complaint, you hate whatever it is you’re talking about.

Speaking of complaining, I feel there’s also a hypocrisy with the “nostalgic and biased” crowd. Some of them will tell others to stop complaining about new things, but make complaints about those very new things themselves. While it’s likely an impulsive oversight, I can’t help feeling there’s an aura of arrogance or superiority there. They are allowed to complain, but no one else is. It’s perplexing because it seems they do understand you can like something and still have your grievances with it, however small, but don’t accept any complaints except their own and those they agree with.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, with the idea nostalgia makes blind and biased is it suggests the previous version of a work never received complaints and criticism. I have never found that to be true. I have seen criticism of works that appear almost universally loved such as The Lion King and The Incredibles. The fact is nothing – absolutely nothing – is exempt from criticism.

I’ll use a different example: Winx Club, which I linked to above. Some complaints I heard long before its fourth season were:

  • The girls being referred to as “slutty” or that the show teaches young girls to be “whores”
  • That the show encourages anorexia because the girls are too thin
  • That the girls are boy-crazy (this is one I do agree with) and the show teaches young girls they must have a boyfriend
  • That one of the main relationships was toxic (true), although it was often argued the same relationship was the most realistic
  • The girls’ bodies and faces are nearly identical (also true)

Yet somehow, I never heard those viewpoints considered biased or the people who made them blinded by nostalgia. They were argued against, but never did nostalgia come up. Since these complaints were made about the first three seasons, not just one, it definitely could’ve, but it never did. On the other hand, any complaint about the newer seasons? Must be made because of nostalgia, even if the person making the complaint has never seen the early seasons or didn’t grow up with the show. The only exception to the rule are the people who make this accusation. Those who accuse others of biased and blinded from nostalgia are allowed to make any complaints they please.

Personally, I think generalizing everyone who doesn’t think the way you do is a lot more biased than nostalgia could ever be, if it is at all. What is more biased than saying, “You don’t think like me, therefore you must be blind and biased”?

Digitization

It goes without saying the world is moving more and more towards being digital. Video games, books, movies, even TV services can all be purchased and used online. Whenever I’d hear adults talking about technology “taking over”, I’ll roll my eyes and think they were stuck in the past, but I feel like I’m beginning to understand why they feel that way.

Someday, there will be no more libraries, no more video game stores, and no more DVDs on the shelves. All those businesses will eventually close because everything they sell will be purchasable online and companies will stop producing physical copies. Writing will become an ancient skill because everyone will type. Some schools have already stopped teaching children penmanship. Personally, I can’t imagine not knowing how to write and it’s a skill I never want to lose, but I understand why handwriting is becoming viewed as a needless skill now. By the time I was in high school, I didn’t have a single teacher who would accept handwritten homework assignments. If you didn’t type it out, you automatically failed, even if the work itself was satisfactory.

I’m well aware digital is more environmentally friendly above all, but knowing what will eventually happen to pastimes like writing and visiting the library depresses me. When I purchase a digital copy of something, I don’t feel like I own it because it’s not in my possession. I have three full shelves of books. I can easily look at them and say they’re mine. But a digital book? Whose is that? Yes, I paid for it, but I don’t have it. The company I bought it from has it. I don’t have any control over what happens to it. The only way someone can steal the physical books I have is by breaking into my home and taking them by force. And even then, it’s unlikely all of them would be stolen, as the shelf is too heavy to be carried safely anywhere while it’s full.

But how would I be protected against having my digital books stolen, if I bought any? Or what if the company pulls the books from their site or end up going out of business? I lose all of my books and I don’t get my money back. Thus, I’d have to buy the entire collection again rather than just the few I lost.

Progress can’t be stopped, so it’s not like I’m attempting to fight against it. I like technology very much. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have a computer or any consoles or a cell phone. I’m far from a technophobe. At the same time, I don’t want technology to take over everything. I want to still read at library, shop for games and DVDs at the store, and buy pens and pencils to write in my diary. Yes, I understand these are sentimental reasons, but there are also sentimental reasons for going digital. Not having to leave your home, not having to use up space, and so on. For people who prefer that, the world going digital probably borders on feeling like a gift from the heavens.

I also wonder how far it’s going to go. I feel like it won’t stop at digital libraries and typing instead of handwriting. I’ve read that my generation is the last that regularly played outside. Now, I do still see children playing outside, but not often and not many. I used to find the idea ludicrous, but now I truly believe it’s possible technology will someday allow people to never need to leave their homes. That someday, playgrounds and parks will be torn down due to abandonment and games like tag and hide & seek will become unheard of because all children will know are digital games. I hope so much I’m wrong, but it’s no longer far-fetched for me. I can picture it happening.

I realize I’m probably being a hypocrite in coming out with all of this. I used to say people who hate technology were stuck in the past and yet, I now sound like I’m stuck in the past. I don’t hate technology, but the feeling is the same. Everything will eventually be digitized and I’m going to miss times before that occurred. As dramatic as it may sound, I almost hope I don’t live long enough to see that. Technology is amazing and I don’t want to live without it, but I also don’t want live without handwriting and hard copies of books, games, and shows. Progress isn’t leaving anyone a choice, however, so for those like me who aren’t so enthusiastic, we can only suck it up and hope for the best, whatever that could be.