The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Thought You Knew: Memory Lane Closed: No Nostalgia for the 1990’s

3 min read

“Well, the green one is a dog that my mom gave me, and I found the orange dolphin…my friend gave me the pink mermaid and I bought the rest because they were only two dollars.”

“Oh wow, I only have this hat that glows in the dark and a dollar sign. I really want more.”

This is a real conversation I overheard recently between adults—about Silly Bandz.

For many, college is the first time we’ve ever been away from our parents and most of us still rely on them as much, if not more, than we did when we were in high school. At age 16, we were all desperate to grow up, but at 21, more and more of my peers have began romanticizing the not-too-distant past.

It’s strange how eager people born in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s are for an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Exactly what is it that we’re nostalgic for? Having a curfew, or school from eight to three every day?

Don’t get me wrong; reminiscing about old TV shows and music is definitely fun on rare occasions. It can also be a great way to break the ice around people you’ve just met because it’s something nearly everyone can relate to, but don’t you think it’s a little silly to be looking back on things that didn’t happen that long ago so often?

The constant state of nostalgia, where people can’t stop trying to re-experience things that only just occurred, devalues whatever it is we’re trying to remember. Reminiscing is fun, but not when it happens every time you’re in a big group of people who watched too much TV between 1994 and 2000.

Those songs from middle school that defined your entire 13-year-old existence, lose their power when you play them so often that you can associate them with more memories of the present than the past.

It’s not that I don’t understand the desire to long for the days when life seemed simpler. At this point in time, we’re all somewhere between seven months and three years, and seven months away from having everything turned upside down.

There’s nothing like the promise of change to keep us grasping for the past.

People are already having 90’s themed parties for god’s sake.
Most of us were barely cognizant until the middle of the decade, but that doesn’t quell the temptation so many seem to have to associate our age group with it’s own clearly defined slot on the cultural timeline so quickly.

Part of my annoyance with people supporting fads targeting a younger demographic, and placing such weight on characterizing themselves through the first decade of their lives, stems from the fact that it gets better. I mean, it has to get better. Right?

What if our decade hasn’t happened yet?

It’s much more comforting, at least to me, to believe the period of time that will define who I am is ahead of me.

Everything I want to do that will ultimately define who I am, for future generations to marvel at, is years away. Starting a family and winning my first Emmy for primetime television writing for a comedy, for example, are two of the things I’m most excited for, and those are at least two years away (I’m really talented, modest and also have many skills that I think make me an excellent candidate for stay at home mom-ing/freelance-work from home, FYI).

It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed the first two decades of my life, of course, but everyone’s personalities, tastes and appearances changed so much in that time that it’s impossible to pinpoint any duration as the time that summarizes us all.

I’m certain that there will be many more analyses of “Rocko’s Modern Life” and dance parties to the Spice Girls in my future, probably before I even graduate. I’ll enjoy those moments as they’re happening, but a part of me wishes we could forget about those things for a while, and just enjoy what we’re doing now.

Hell, I don’t even want to be able to identify the defining period in my life until I’m silently enduring abuse in my nursing home, waiting for my husband to come in and read the story of our romance to me every day.