TRUE OPINION: A viral pandemic has induced a collective wave of nostalgia, writes lawyer and novelist Miles Hunt.
There’s a survey from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance doing the rounds of late asking people’s favorite Australian TV shows. Called ‘The Great Aussie Binge’, the list comes up with so many past favourites – Blue Murder, Kath and Kim, Heartbreak High, Full Frontal.
It made me think: do we like these shows because they come from a simpler (perhaps better) time or because the stories are of that time – and can make us feel part of that time again, if only for 27 minutes?
They are not alone in connecting to the past. I feel like we are all reminiscing a bit in this time of isolation. Nostalgia in time of Covid – as Gabriela Garcia Marquez might call it.
My Facebook profile is inundated by people’s 10 favourite and most influential albums – the CD’s that changed their taste in music. I see a lot of Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins and 90s grunge music. The music of my teens. There is also plenty of U2, The Cure, and then the rock anthems of the 80s and 90s.
We are collectively going through a wave of nostalgia. For a simpler time. I said better before. Maybe it just feels that way because it has gone, and not coming back, or because we have had more time to reflect on the way we live.
But there is also something about living a more humble existence that brings it all back: the cooking at home; the streets and parks filled with bike riders and walkers; the barbeques, the afternoon beer on the front steps; the Saturday nights in with family playing board games or doing jigsaw puzzles.
It was a time where technology had its limits – it had given us good lives – made humans safer, but the planet was healthier, and things were not so fast-paced and full of information that one hardly had a time for, well, anything but checking the phone and keeping up with the 24 hour non-stop news updates.
We still had television, but you had to wait for your show, sometimes a whole week. Gratification was delayed not instant. There was patience in the wait and excitement when you got there. There were top-shelf movies too – in one year 12 months period around ’94, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, Schindler’s List, The Piano, In the Name of the Father and Forest Gump were released – and we went to watch them at the movies, with friends, or on a date, popcorn and choc-top in hand.
Or, if you were a teenager, like me, you waited until it was at the video store, and then hired the film excitedly – a new release, or 5 weeklies for $10. It meant something. The same as those CD’s meant something – they were tangible and way too expensive (and HMF were making a motza), but every single one was treasured.
A friend of mine reckons that movies and music were spoilt by downloadability – they became too easy and lost their worth. There is something in that. The way an ice cream always tasted better on a balmy Sunday afternoon, when Dad finally relented after the beach or visiting Grandma.
Looking back, it wasn’t just a good time for movies and music; it was a great time for all. People were happier then; less disillusioned by politics. They appreciated a night out, a meal out, an item bought… before everything got cheap and easy, like a $4.95 ham and pineapple from Pizza Hut.
In a way life was more zen – less obsessed in commodities and commercialism –despite the fact that barely anyone did yoga or ate vegan. This is the great contradiction in at all. And don’t get me wrong, there is great things about today, which would be hard to let go, but maybe, the speed of everything isn’t one of them.
I blame the internet. It brought us together, but smashed us apart. Connected us like no time before, but left us more disconnected than ever. Created a sea of information, in which we are slowly drowning.
Before the Internet (BI), work was just work – you got home and switched off. For too long now, technology has made work a part of every waking moment – from dawn to dusk, and through the night, employees are hooked-up to the world-wide-web, connected, while still asleep. Making profit for the Company as they take a shit.
Yet the benefits never came. We still had to turn-up and log-in. Work from home remained shunned at many workplaces; something too hard to approach the boss about. And everyone still had to work 9am to 5pm, or 8.30am to 6pm, as work-time continued to expand onward and outward like the universe .
Covid, despite its horror, has given people some time back. It has allowed many to work from home, to use technology to their advantage, and not just for employers in search of profit.
Employees can still work hard, do their job, but they don’t need to cram into trains like sardines and traverse hours across a grid lock city, they don’t need to sit at a desk and stare at a screen when motivation is down. They can be more present at home, look after their families, cook dinner, make their own hummus, play with the kids, dare to create something and still work as needed.
It has brought everyone back to the time before.