The Dark Side Of Nostalgia
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The Dark Side Of Nostalgia

Nostalgia can give us good feelings and memories of our childhood, but it can also cause serious problems.

The Dark Side Of Nostalgia

Many people these days look back on the media they consumed as a child and are reminded of, in their minds, better times. They are reminded of a time that feels objectively better than the one they live in now. These were the days when there were no worries, no struggle, everyone was friendly and went to church, everything was just better. However, when you actually look back at those periods in time, the truth is never that simple.

Nostalgia driven media often omits the dark periods or outright sanitizes certain moments and people in history. One of the best examples of this is the period known as the 1950s. To many Americans, mostly white Boomers, the 1950s was a sort of American Golden Age. America was reaping the benefits of a postwar economy, the American middle class was booming, and this was the height of "American ideals" like religion and democracy. Shows like "Happy Days" often see this period as an objectively better time than the present, just look at the title. This, however, is not true.

Most nostalgic media often ignores the the dark side of the 1950s. The 1950s were a hard time for many people. The Cold War between America and Soviet Russia was at it's peak and children were being taught about the real possibility of nuclear war. The government was so paranoid about communism that any opinion that criticized America and her policies would have you branded a communist, ruin your professional life, or even get you thrown in prison. Not to mention the rampant racism and bigotry that came as a reaction to the civil rights movement. So why do some people remember the 50s so fondly and wish America would return to such a time period?

Most of the people who say they want to return to that time period are white Boomers who grew up as fairly well off children at that time. When you are a child, you know little to nothing about the troubles of the outside world. You remembers things like riding bikes, watching your favorite T.V. show, or getting ice cream at the drug store. Nostalgic media only gives you those moments you remember fondly to create warm memories of your childhood, so what's the problem?

Warping and sanitizing our view of the past has never led to good. It ignores the real history that is always more complex than many in American society would want. When we elevate only the "good parts" and ignore the bad you aren't teaching history, you're mythologizing real people and real periods of time. Mythologizing flawed and often downright bad people (Christopher Columbus) led to this "cult of traditionalism" among the older generation that we are dealing with today. People who twist and turn their logic to defend statues and monuments to bad people, some have even threatened harm on real people to defend them. Nostalgia can remind us of our happy carefree childhoods, but it can also close us off to new ideas and discoveries that can actually make the world better. We shouldn't be looking to the past for a better future, we should be looking at everything in front of us and ask ourselves, "how do we make this better for everyone".

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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