We have a weird relationship with nostalgia at this current moment in history. The vast majority of nostalgic expression I see tends to fall into one of two extreme categories:
1. Hyperbolic Buzzfeed-style pop culture nostalgia, aka “OMG THIS PHOTO OF A PINK VELVET SCRUNCHIE LITERALLY BLEW MY MIND AND CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER.”
2. White people yearning for a fictional past that conveniently erases reality, aka “I miss the good old days before political correctness...and also feminism, the civil rights movement, gay marriage, and the polio vaccine.”
Which is why whenever I’m struck by genuine nostalgia that doesn’t fall into either of these categories, I feel the need to document it. So with that in mind, here are ten things I’ve been really, truly, actually nostalgic for lately, amidst the wild, terrifying ride that is 2017.
1. Not having to check Twitter to see if we’ve started a nuclear war.
Fact: it’s easy to idealize a pre-Trump America, but the fact is much of the ugliness that’s surfaced with Trump’s presidency has always existed in America. Also a fact: I now look back fondly on the time in my life when my morning routine didn’t include, “Check the president’s Twitter account to see if he dropped a nuke on someone who made fun of his visible panty line.”
2. Not feeling the need to look like a Snapchat filter.
Listen, in my adolescence, everyone was trying to look like an Olsen twin (which is extremely difficult if you’re short, curvy, and can’t afford an unlimited number of artfully deconstructed sweaters and venti Starbucks), so it’s not like our beauty standard was positive and attainable back then. But these days, young women, in particular, are expected to look perfect and filtered at all times, on social media and in real life. Speaking of which, I also miss...
3. Non-curated Instagram photos.
I have a very hazy memory of awkward, unfiltered photos being a frequent occurrence on Instagram. I could probably remember this more clearly if I wasn’t spending so much time and energy artfully arranging the carefully chosen items on my coffee table to fool my followers into thinking I’m cool, cultured, interesting, and just the right amount of quirky.
4. News stories that aren’t in viral video form.
I know I’m showing my hand as a bitter writer over 30 right now, but seeing all my journalist friends lose their jobs in favor of fun pop-up videos about white supremacist uprisings is so upsetting. I miss words.
I know that dinosaurs are more likely to make a comeback, but what can I say, I’m a hopeless idealist.
6. Reality show stars without a grand agenda.
Remember when people just went on reality TV to get momentarily famous for eating worms in front of Joe Rogan or to garner a warm smile of fatherly approval from Regis Philbin? I miss those innocent days before a reality show appearance became a strategic step toward building a lifestyle brand. Since reality has become such a popular genre, the old cliche “I’m not here to make friends” has evolved into “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to grow my social media followers and establish myself as an influencer so I can launch a line of ironic t-shirts featuring my predetermined catchphrase and get paid $100K to shill laxative tea on Instagram.”
7. General ignorance about when and how we are all going to die.
I know this is a terrible thing to feel nostalgic about, and we should be informed about global warming and do everything in our power to change it, yadda yadda yadda. But, like, it was kind of nice not to be reminded every single day of the existential countdown that will ultimately lead to humanity’s demise, when we’re incinerated by wildfire and then swallowed by the sea.
8. Poor photo quality.
Remember when you could take a photo of yourself and not be clued in to the intimate details of all your pores? I miss that.
9. Turn signals.
For whatever reason, they’ve fallen out of favor. But they’re kind of, you know, important.
Because let’s get real: they’re awesome, and I just bought a six-pack on clearance at CVS and my life is changed forever.
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