“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.” — Doug Larson
I’ve got this thing for the 80’s. No lie, I got it bad. I love the music, the fashion, almost everything.
But listening to people who lived through it, well, it wasn’t all that hot. Today I understand why.
A producer who’s got a thing for the 90’s told me about all the cool stuff he wished were around today. Given the chance, he’d even go back.
While I don’t want to burst his bubble, the 90’s were awful. No, no, they were. As were the 80’s.
Let’s look at some numbers comparing 1980 & 2012:
- Life Expectancy. 63 years | 70 years
- Infant Mortality. 7.64% | 3.69%
- Per Person Income. $5911 | $10,070 (adjusted for inflation)
- People living in extreme poverty. 42.6% | 16.9%
- Literacy Rate. 70% | 84%
- Internet Access. 0% | 34%
If we compare the objective metrics of how much better off we are as a species, why the hell would we want to go back?
We’ve got this negativity bias and we only apply it to our present time and immediate surroundings. When we look back however, we’ve got warm memories of the past.
While things might’ve been great for us in the 80’s, those “glory days” are behind us. As are many of the issues humanity faced back then.
I read a story recently about Hannah who’s teacher asked the question: “If you could live in any decade of American history, which decade would you choose?”
While her classmates answered things like the 1950’s, 1870’s, and 1920’s, she didn’t really have a desire to go back to any time.
You see, while Hannah’s American, she’s also of Asian descent.
There’s no period in American history for her to go back to. At least not in which she’d be particularly welcome, or where she’d have many opportunities open to her.
While things have been really good for straight white men for a long time, they haven’t been that good for women, people of color, the LGBT community, or the disabled.
Yes, I’d love to feel the same thing as I did dancing to the intro of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in the early 90’s. Yes, I’d like the music to sound just like it did in the 80’s. Yes, I’d love to see more Miami Vice-type fashion.
But I’ve already got it. I can watch TMNT anytime I want, I can listen to almost the entire 80’s catalog on Spotify, I can go order Miami Vice-type clothes online.
Perhaps on an individual level some were better off back then. However, it was built on the fact that others were far worse off.
You might be thinking: “What about climate change, global warming, etc? That’s worse, right?”
Yes. It’s a problem and we shouldn’t ignore it. The world is experiencing growing pains. But striving backward isn’t the answer.
There’s nothing there that’s better than it is now for us as a whole.
We need to put down our member berries and strive forward.
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