OK, it’s extremely easy to focus on what’s gone. Nostalgia is an easy emotion since it can be echoed in so many things. If you’re sad, you’re nostalgic because thinking about the past makes you feel better. But why don’t we do the opposite? We miss video stores but we’re never excited by the iTunes store. So I’m going to do the opposite of my last intro. Time to look at 10 things I wish I had when I was young. For the purposes of this, I’m choosing 18 as my youth. (2002 to be clear) I’m doing so to look at what I actually had then vs now. It’s a logical benchmark. So let’s go
1 Tablets. I didn’t have a smartphone and I’m always a few models back even now. Computers though? I had them and I would have had my jaw on the floor. Wifi and high speed internet can count here too since they were all bubbling and would eventually arise. But the tablet would be king. I love my miracle rectangle that has every comic I could want, movies, books, and even an array of pinball tables.
2 Comixology. I chose 18 for a benchmark and it really matters here that I did. I got into comics at 18 and getting in then wasn’t difficult exactly but it meant a lot more searching than I liked. Imagine having everything I could hope for at my finger tips. Now would I have started on Ultimate Spider-Man, Daredevil, and ASM? Yes of course, those three books are amazing. But I wouldn’t have struggled to find other books. And sales would’ve sent me down blind alleys faster.
3 Bike friendly cities. Big one here. My life would have been much easier with city planning built for bikes. I grew up in Conway which was somewhat friendly to bikes. It is much more so now. Bike lanes and roundabouts are a joy for cyclists. I would have been much safer.
4 Mint chocolate year round. Here’s one nobody thinks about but I do. Mint chocolate isn’t a 11/1-12/31 flavor anymore. Growing up you got it those months and in ice cream and that was it. But the flavor is popular enough I munched mint M&Ms this week as I was suffering from heat sickness. It helped.
5 Mountain Dew LiveWire. I can bemoan Pitch Black’s loss all I want but I need to shout out the underrated surviving Dew. LiveWire is so delicious and tart and perfect. I debated putting this on the list since it arrived not long after Pepsi Holiday Spice but the 18 line is important. I would have inhaled this next to Code Red. I still drink 2-3 bottles a month and will today.
6 Safety features in cars. Do we even realize how good cars are now? I have been in several fender benders. I can’t in my new car. It’ll beep if I’m too close. I have rear view cameras. This car is accident proof. These features are life saving.
7 The death of CDs and the rise of digital music. Look, we all have warmth for our books of CDs. But were they really better? No. Not at all. They were just common. I vastly prefer the itunes store.
8 Streaming services for art house films. I’m going to go against the grain here. I think streaming services, often treated as the bane of the cinephile, would have changed my life for the better as a burgeoning film fan. I often had to wait months to join the conversation on serious films and I was tapped in hard at 18. Imagine having Marriage Story immediately. To growing film fans, Netflix hiring great artists isn’t the death of cinema but a couch trip to art.
9 Everything online. We were starting to see this in 2002 but it being the norm? Not as much. However we conduct so many things on our computers and phones we don’t think about it. Many of us work online. We do all of our business here. We bank. We pay bills. We go to class. Amazing. And there’s one very important element about online I need to end on.
10 The autistic community online. I don’t think people know how bad things were in 2002 for autistic people. The community that existed was for parents not for us. I have angry thoughts on Wrong Planet. I hate what the community was. But over time we built a network and it is life saving. I am grateful for my community.
So now that I’ve looked at the pros and cons for nostalgia, what can I conclude? Easy. None of the things I listed on either side are why we feel nostalgia or why we shouldn’t. We don’t miss the things. We miss the feeling.
Take the video store. Do we miss the thrill of searching for a movie or do we miss how it felt to be young and free. I talk a lot about the video store in my grandparents’ hometown as something I miss but you know what I really miss? Them.
Nostalgia about things is how we’ve been trained to talk about the feeling because there’s a taboo about admitting we hate what being an adult is. You realize you were lied to about what you could do. You are ground by the system. You’re dying in debt. The things I like about being an adult honestly are my family and the few freedoms I have now. I like my job too but I liked school too.
We talk about things because they don’t expose the real emotion here. We talk about things too because so much of our existence is as a consumer. We are told to think in that toxic mode. But really? We miss being a kid and riding around on our bike. We miss the potential of life.
I close on a thought. Yesterday, I took a drive with this in mind. My goal was to recapture being 15, drinking a soda, buying a Marvel novel and candy. And I did all of that. Iron Man: Virus sits beside me. There’s some yummy root beer float candy in the kitchen. I even drank the not the same Pitch Black. (It’s berry not grape.) And it was nice. But did it fix things? No. Because the past is indeed passed. It’s sad. It’s true.