The Culture of Nostalgia

Although there is no clear answer to a key question that is hard not to ask oneself these days; namely, what will happen when we are finally out of a past that we can revere? It is rather exciting to go back to those good old days of childhood and adolescence, sure. But the problem is that MTV Classic is running on televismtvion and, these days, almost no one watches television anymore.

Nostalgia for the period prior to the arrival of the internet is a feeling that is mostly expressed… on the internet. Hence the massive, ironic consumption of retro YouTube videos and the many playlists about classic pop culture all over YouTube, fashion blogs and “cool” magazines like Vice etc. Therein the obsession of photos falsely aged, made vintage on Instagram, the massive hit that Friends is on Netflix and the resurrection of Pikachu on our smartphones. According to Hess, “broadcasting that on TV is totally out of sync with the way we want to go back to our past.”

Many teens in the 80s and 90s devoured MTV, locked in their rooms, isolated from others. They probably felt connected to other unknown people who watched the same, at the same time and on the same channel. Today cultural consumption is not in sync anymore. Perhaps it is harder today to generate a sense of identity and belonging.

At the time, perhaps, our only concern was to pass courses like math or physics, but nothing more. We did not need to work to make a living, so basically we had plenty of time to while away the hours watching and listening to music. Some of us did not know that, a few years later, we would be on the other side of the screen, reporting for networks like MTV or others and might feel nostalgic about that time when TV was the first to show the world what was going on.