Sunday, August 19, 2012

Nostalgia stinks

I was watching some 1990's country music videos on YouTube.  For the most part it was songs I'd forgotten about, beautiful reflections of a time now past.  Some of these songs triggered interesting memories that I hadn't thought about in years, so I kept clicking on the next song I recognized, over and over.  Books (Doug Stone makes be think of "A Wrinkle in Time"), people (a friend who committed suicide), events (learning to do the jitterbug from my ex-stepsister's late grandfather) of the past were dancing through my brain. At the same time, hearing many of these songs as an adult was educational (there is a lot of dark humor and risque jokes in music).  Many that I thought were romantic as a teenager now seem sad or silly.  Some that I never really thought about have proven to be full of deep truths. It was a fun way to pass the afternoon in between working on other things (listen to Shenandoah's "I Want to be Loved Like That").

The worst part about the internet, in my opinion, are the people who never seem to have anything nice to say.  As much as I tried not to notice the comments on these videos, some of them got read.  Mostly the comments were about how people aren't "real" anymore and nobody has any talent, and things were better back in the day.  Where they could have commented on how much they enjoyed the music or what the song meant to them, they had to bitch.

Nostalgia in some ways is toxic.  It erases the realities of the past and whitewashes them with something more palatable; it flattens the people into cut outs and ignores the continuity, the progression of moments that accumulate to make now out of then.  Country music (any genre of any art form) changed because the listeners did.  The listeners changed because the world changed, the world changed because we all did.  Looking back and saying "Everything was better then" makes it hard to move forward for everyone (which is a big part of why humans don't ever learn from history and therefore make all the same mistakes over and over again).  It also adds insult to injury to people who have dug themselves out of the disasters of their past and moved on towards a better tomorrow.

There is nothing wrong with looking back at where you've come from (How else can you see how far you've come?), but rewriting history with nostalgia helps no one.  Being nasty doesn't do much good either.  I'm thinking a 'netcation may be in order again, so I can regain my perspective rather than ranting about how nasty people can be.

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