An Addiction To Nostalgia: The Need To Feel Sentimental Toward A Past We Haven’t Had
The demand for a life deemed ‘more exciting’ than the one they’re already living is creating a hatred for the period of time that adolescents are currently existing in.
It’s said that the trend cycle makes a full rotation every 20-50 years; a fad comes, it goes, then takes its place back in the public eye. However, the rotation seems to be stuck in one place at the minute, and it’s created a paradox in young people and their interests.
The high street plays into the hands of this addiction diligently, H&M acts as an enabler to the devotees. The moment you walk into the store, every low-quality t-shirt or jumper produced is printed with a 70s or 80s band that’s almost out of stock because it’s been bought up by a post-pandemic group of teenagers with money to spend and a playlist with space to spare. Inherently, this isn't a bad thing, but what comes from it is an outbreak in itself.
What emerges is a harmful and obsessive ideology toward these eras because young people have never experienced the original time period of these artists and fashion forward years. I’m not talking about the introduction of this style to children; the problem is the blissful ignorance of the horrendous perspectives on race, gender and sexuality that people living in the ‘Me Decade’ of the 1970’s had. The reason trends resurge is because we remember them and forget what they represent. In essence, we drag them out of squalor and onto high streets to be sold for £12.99 a piece.
Another area this flares up in is the film and television industries. Ask anyone; no one’s favourite film is from the last 5-10 years, and if it is, the film is set in a time frame so far behind or ahead of where we are now. Take one of the most famous series of the decade: Stranger Things. The grasp this show has on young adults and pre teens is tyrannical, with some going as far as to wish they had a life in the 80s. However, young people need to remember that the ‘Moderation Decade’ wasn’t all neon jumpsuits, tutus and huge hair. It was a time before rights as basic as the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Tina Turner and Micheal Jackson may still have an impact now, but at the time of the HIV/AIDS epidemic they were the jarring soundtrack to the lost lives of many LGBTQ+ persons.
This demand for a life deemed ‘more exciting’ than the one they’re already living is creating a hatred for the period of time that adolescents are currently existing in. The term “I wish I was born in the 50s/60s/70s/80s/90s” acts as a weighted chain from what is truly keeping us as a society from progressing. We can’t afford to reminisce over epochs that weigh us down; to progress, we require not a forgive and forget strategy, but more of a review and evolve approach to ensure that we take with us the best of what previous ages had to offer, for example advances in music and genderless fluidity, and grow from the rotten soil that predecessors provided us in the form of shielding and segregation. Although the new 20s haven’t been perfect, they’ve shown some advancement in laws surrounding conversion therapy along with other things.
Acknowledging the continuing development needed is the first step, and the second step is letting go.