Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nostalgia is solipsism

So I was reading this stupid list that I clicked on for some reason. It's called 40 things that will make you feel old.

Now personally, I've seen a lot of these types of things lately. Lists that are just a bunch of "omg, can you believe how long ago this was?" xkcd did one. My personal favorite was this list.

But this one was stupider than most. I mean, supposedly I'm the target demographic for this list, because I have clear memories of "Tha Crossroads" being a #1 jam and the premiere of Family Guy, pre-cancellation/comeback. But none of this stuff makes me feel old at all. Like, am I supposed to look at this and be like "Wow, I can't FOR ONE SINGLE SECOND believe Macaulay Culkin has hit the big three-oh!" or "It seems like just yesterday that people knew what the Macarena was!!!!11" When I look at those facts, all I can say to them is "Yeah, seems about right." (Although it did surprise me that Elijah Wood was only 18 when he did the LOTR movies; I could've sworn they used young-person makeup on him, still.)

Then I looked at this list and realized, this is only stuff that will make you feel old if you can't possibly conceive of any other experience than your own. Just because you were young when Seinfeld was on the air does not mean everybody was. There are people who were not born when the show ended, and guess what? They are going to grow old too. Lots of people were already old when that show even premiered. Did you think they were going to keep making new episodes forever? That only happened with the Simpsons.

You know what does make me feel old? Being married for six years. Having a one year-old child and another on the way. Watching my parents become grandparents. Watching my grandparents become corpses. Seeing my little brothers graduate. Seeing my little sisters get married. Having to spend money on my student loan. Working out at the gym and feeling sore for the next week. Eating a ton of sugar and feeling like crap afterward. Looking for work, any work. Blogging about stupid lists like these.

Pop culture? That stuff has a shelf-life that can be measured in weeks. I'm surprised that stuff isn't actually older than it is. So screw the Taco Bell dog. I feel young because he's dead and I'm not.


Wendy McMillan said...

Thank you for saying all of these things. I've lately been feeling like I'm losing part of myself and I think I just feel old. Old because I can no longer sleep in until whenever I want or stay up as late as I want. At least being pregnant you can at times eat whatever you want with no consequences. My body is so happy to get food that it doesn't care if it's mostly junk.

Austin said...

As always you make good points. That article about 40 things that are supposed to make me feel old are just kinda "meh" to me.

Maybe it's because I felt like an old man when I was 17 and felt younger every year since then until last year when I needed my hip replaced, maybe it was just a crappy list. I've read some lists that make me feel really really old, but this was not one of them.

Still, it is quite funny and a great point you made that if you're horrified Macalay (however you spell it) Culkin is 30, you're likely Drew Barrymore in "50 First Dates" and can't process the fact that people age and time moves on.

Arianna N. McMillan said...

This was a really good post. I almost cried at the end. But I didn't, because I didn't want to ruin this expensive MacBook Air I'm using in the Kahala Apple Store. But I really liked this post so I had to comment on it. Our society is drowning in pop culture so you made some good points.