controversial · culture · lifestyle

Nostalgia – Were things really better back then?

After staying with my family due to some very hectic reasons, I looked at some of our old photos. I don’t mean on cellphones, I mean the ones that you took with a camera that had a film in it and everything. Now I was a kid back then but we all seemed to so happy in those pictures. Perhaps it is the way the cameras were designed but the smile in those photos looked way more real and memorable than what you would get from your iPhone and social media platforms today.

Somehow, nostalgia hit me. I lost a very close family member last year, more on that in the future, and am still reeling from that right now. Just the smiles in those photos, even though in a lot of them I was a kid. The smiles and the way those photos looked took my nostalgia to the extreme, having me think of how great things were back then, by that let’s say before 2010 and just earlier in this century in general.

No social media to eat up our days because kids played outside.

We disagreed on things as a society but it was never this polarized.

You had no “Cancel Culture”.

A Pokemon card or a little Gameboy was your screen time as opposed to playing League.

You actually got magazines instead of reading everything online.

Everything seemed simpler and in many ways, calmer. Most of all, what gets me is how a lot of what is happening today would have not been taken so well back then. The way politics and entertainment have become, none of this would have been as acceptable 15 to 20 years ago. We were in this odd state of being happy enough and just being more human. A lot will blame social media and the rise of technology and I am inclined to somewhat agree. People have just become so detached and inhumane to things these days, almost accepting society as a fucked up place.

Yet, I ask, were things were really better back then?

Times were simpler but were they better? For me personally, I think social media was at its most satisfactory during the Myspace age. I almost admire Myspace Tom for getting in and then disappearing, not being in the game as long as Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg have been. It’s almost like Myspace Tom saw the shitshow that could ensue from social media and then got his money, backing out to live his life. As for what he does these days, he’s a travel photographer.

Yet, I ask if things were actually better. I ask myself if I am looking back at life with rose-tinted glasses or what. What if I am just getting old? I know humanity and emotions that came with it felt more real compared to the chaos the world is in right now.

Then, I heard a friend Jack say something this year that really stuck with me.

“What if we are not really heading into the dark ages but actually just getting out of them?”

I looked at him a bit strange until he gave me more context behind what he just said. From what Jack said, we were happy back then because we were ignorant. Sure, people made jokes about the government but the trust in it was still there compared to now. Now they do say that ignorance is bliss and I can attest to that. You could hide from the truth because the internet had not made its way to smartphones back then, it was mostly on desktops at home.

What if all along, we were being duped and played this hard as a society but just oblivious to it all?

Then I looked back on my childhood and adolescence a bit more objectively. Yes, I seemed happy in a lot of the photos but I also had no real ambitions back then. People were nasty and playing me but I was oblivious to it all. That was it, it was the ignorance that kept me and now even the world happy. Once you know, you can never go back, but then you ask if times were better or were you just oblivious to it all?

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