We Need to Cool It With Nostalgia and Live in the Present


My childhood best friends and I have a shameful secret, and I worry the only way to redeem ourselves is by exposing it to the world and being held accountable for our behavior as such. Though accomplished and happy with what we've become, we spend a little too much time resurrecting inside jokes from 5, 10, even 15 (!!!) years ago, and the fact that we even remember these passing remarks and jabs is both sad and embarrassing.

While funny, it's time to put these memories to bed, just as it's time for the millennial generation to scale back on its nostalgia obsession. As a former co-worker once said, "things weren't that awesome then and they're not that awful now. Come off it, people."

I thought this over a lot after reading ample press on the Boy Meets World sequel TV series, Girl Meets World, which follows our beloved Cory and Topanga's tweenie bopper daughter.

Yes, she's cute. Yes, it's kind of cool to see a childhood favorite show return in a new, mature way as an adult who watched the show on TGIF in the 90s. Yes, I love that actors Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel remain close and excited about the brand (not to mention well-adjusted for child stars). But did we really need this? Do we need to get on our nostalgia kick as often as we do? Can't we just say, "it was great for what it was, and let's leave it at that" every once in a while?

I'm the first to admit nostalgia, especially with regard to old TV programs, brings back good memories. Though anything but feminist, I loved tuning into Lizzie McGuire as a middle school student, as it was reassuring to see Hilary Duff's character endure the same kind of awkward situations I faced on a daily basis (but her and Miranda's shallow obsession with clothes and ditzy celebration of ignorance bothered me a lot):

BuzzFeed's Rewind section is wildly entertaining, and the articles make my new friends as well as my old friends giggle. When we constantly talk about summer camp, the unforgettable smell of Play Doh, the magazine era and rise and fall of YM, and the cast of All That, though, we forget to live in the present and overlook the amazing aspects of today's pop culture. I'd rather watch Mad Men, which is a solid, relevant show unlike Boy Meets World, on repeat all weekend than reflect on a time in which I looked like this:

Yeah, I know.

It's easy to get hung up on nostalgia in our bleak economy, as we watch friend after friend get engaged, married, and welcome babies on Facebook, and come to terms with the fact that no one expects us to grow up or do anything on our own. Reality can definitely be a buzzkill. But going back to what my former colleague argued, it's not like our lives were so perfect as kids either, and returning to the "old days" doesn't provide a real sense of comfort or hope. Sure we had fewer responsibilities back then and didn't have social media to make us feel bad or inadequate, but we also had to attend that thing called school, had no money, had bed times and curfews, and were insanely awkward.

I don't want to go back to those days, but the overactive nostalgia movement of the millennial generation keeps them alive. Enough of that. Maybe you're plagued with student loans and debt now, but at least you're not still under (full) control of your parents and don't look like a total trainwreck anymore. You're a grown-up whether you like it or not and should indulge your freedom.

Keep reading fun nostalgia listicles if they put a smile on your face and check out Girl Meets World if you're still hung up on the sweet (yet totally unrealistic) Cory-Topanga romance, but don't be shocked if it's not great and it turns out we totally butchered something that died with dignity long ago. And don't say I didn't warn you.