WHY ARE WE SO OB­SESSED WITH NOS­TAL­GIA? A walk down mem­ory lane re­veals in­ter­est­ing truths.

With us en­joy­ing re­vamped TV shows, more se­quels than you can poke a stick at, the re­turn of the Nokia 3310, and the over­haul of our closet, we ex­plore why the pull of nos­tal­gia has hit full-blown peak.

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Contents -

Ah, nos­tal­gia: that lovely feel­ing of turn­ing your brain back to a for­mer time in the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness. It seems of late we’re all keen on a jog down mem­ory lane, from the daily ru­mors of a Spice Girls re­union to the col­lec­tive shit we lost for the Gil­more Girls re­boot—which av­er­aged 2.4 mil­lion views when it aired—not to men­tion daily lis­ti­cles spout­ing click-bait like “24 Things Ev­ery ‘90s Girl Knows.” Now throw in a Will & Grace re­union, the old Nokia Snake game as an iphone app, and Reese Wither­spoon call­ing for a Legally Blonde 3 be­cause “women need pos­i­tiv­ity” and, well, you’ve got your­self one fine stew of nos­tal­gia.

But why the eff are we so amped on the past?

“It’s that in­ner child re­minder—the play­ful­ness of ado­les­cence—we get from these nos­tal­gic ar­ti­cles,” psy­chol­o­gist Melissa Pod­more ex­plains. “We are re­con­nect­ing with that freedom and joy we had at that time in our lives.”

“When we rem­i­nisce, there is a lovely flood of en­dor­phins that goes through the body,” she con­tin­ues. “That feel-good hor­mone is quite ad­dic­tive; that’s why we can watch The

Notebook 20 times; there’s a bio-chem­i­cal fac­tor. It’s like when we have a hot cho­co­late, we get a warm, fuzzy feel­ing from en­dor­phins.”

Dr. Glen Don­nar, lec­turer in pop cul­ture at RMIT Univer­sity in Mel­bourne, sug­gests it’s more a tool to cope with our in­se­cu­ri­ties.

“It might be a re­sponse to ill­ness, dis­tress, or some­thing be­ing wrong, and the nos­tal­gia seeks to re­sist or counter it,” he says. “So when peo­ple talk about be­ing nos­tal­gic, as if they are go­ing into the past, in some ways it might help us un­der­stand our­selves and our present. It is a way for us to deal with dra­matic change or per­ceived threat. In some ways it places us at the cen­ter of our own story and mem­o­ries again.”

Pro­fes­sor Con­stan­tive Sedikides from the Univer­sity of South­hamp­ton with Dr. Tim Wild­schut from Ur­recht in the Nether­lands the­o­rized that nos­tal­gia is a “driver of em­pa­thy, social con­nect­ed­ness, and a po­tent in­ter­nal an­ti­dote for lone­li­ness and alien­ation.”

“Nos­tal­gia com­pen­sates for... feel­ings of mean­ing­less­ness or a dis­con­ti­nu­ity be­tween past and present,” said Wild­schut in their ex­per­i­ments. “What we find in these cases is that nos­tal­gia...is like a vi­ta­min and an an­ti­dote to those states. It serves to pro­mote emo­tional equilibrium, home­osta­sis.”

Back in 2012, Sedikides and Wild­schut, along­side Xinyue Whou and Ding-guo Gao, found that lis­ten­ing to some nos­tal­gic mu­sic caused the tem­per­a­tures of par­tic­i­pants in the study to rise. Nos­tal­gia lit­er­ally made them feel warm. Like a Snug­gie (is it too early to feel nos­tal­gic for a Snug­gie?). In the same study, they found that nos­tal­gia also in­creased per­cep­tions of social sup­port, made us feel less lonely, and gave us feel­ings of safety.

Think about those chats you have at work that start with “Do you re­mem­ber go­ing to Easter par­ties and wear­ing fluffy bunny ears to hunt for eggs?” Quirky ex­am­ple, sure, but this sen­tence usu­ally ends with a dis­cus­sion of the mem­ory, as well as an in-depth com­par­i­son that makes us feel like we all have things in com­mon; like we be­long to the same branch of so­ci­ety. We’re united in our shared mem­ory.

Go­ing Back­wards

How­ever, Dr. Mark Steven from Univer­sity of New South Wales feels that nos­tal­gia can some­times be dam­ag­ing for a com­mu­nity as it po­ten­tially stops us from ac­cess­ing new lev­els of so­ci­ety. “Ac­cord­ing to some thinkers, closed hori­zons and an ac­cep­tance that how things are is how they have to be.” In other words, if we are only find­ing joy in the past, we’re not com­ing up with fresh new ideas to pro­pel our­selves for­ward as a com­mu­nity. He asks, “How do we imag­ine a dif­fer­ent, bet­ter world if we can’t look be­yond our past?”

Good ques­tion. Pop cul­ture gives us our nos­tal­gia on tap in the form of end­less re­runs and re­makes. But in that way, Dr. Steven be­lieves that these nos­tal­gic ef­forts run the risk of be­com­ing so nor­mal that acts who bor­row from the past fail to pro­duce any­thing truly mod­ern or fresh. He refers to mu­si­cians like Mark Ron­son or DMA’S. “They are thor­oughly and ab­so­lutely nos­tal­gia acts, re­call­ing ‘60s soul and ‘90s Brit­pop, and yet that’s how they’re mar­keted. There’s no nos­tal­gia for the his­tor­i­cal past here...[it’s] as though the fu­ture and all its pos­si­bil­i­ties have van­ished.”

Yet per­form­ers have found in­spi­ra­tion from acts that came be­fore them since some­one plucked the first gui­tar string. Think Lady Gaga’s homage to Madonna in gen­eral, Bey­once’s sam­pling of Led Zep­pelin’s “When The Levee Breaks” on her vis­ual al­bum Le­mon­ade, and Brit­ney’s “Stronger” video clip re­sem­bling Janet Jack­son’s “Miss You Much” chair dance.

who Ben­e­fits?

When it comes to pop cul­ture, there’s an even clearer rea­son than psy­chol­ogy that we’re see­ing more of the past: that rea­son is money. Aside from be­ing a dis­trac­tion from our ev­ery­day lives, nos­tal­gia has also become a mas­sive money maker as ad­ver­tis­ers hitch their wag­ons to the con­sumerism of re­flec­tion.

“There is one main party to the drive to­wards re­viv­ing and re­boot­ing cul­tural texts,” says Dr. Don­nar. “And that is the cul­tural pro­duc­ers, such as stream­ing ser­vices. They need con­tent, be­cause we live in a mul­ti­chan­nel, multi-plat­form me­dia en­vi­ron­ment.” For an on-de­mand stream­ing ser­vice that needs 24/7 con­tent, nos­tal­gia can pro­vide a fully stocked pantry with the click of a but­ton. The fact that we still fry our ba­con to

Friends 20 years af­ter it left screens means that nos­tal­gia is pretty much a com­mer­cial pig­gy­bank for these con­tent pro­duc­ers.

“Whether it’s ‘00s clas­sics like The O.C. or Sailor Moon’s

“Pop cul­ture gives us our nos­tal­gia on tap.”

makeup range, peo­ple can’t get enough of nos­tal­gic con­tent,” says Cos­mopoli­tan. com.au’s con­tent direc­tor, Emily Kerr. “It shows that this kind of pop cul­ture gold won’t quit.”

“What strikes me about lever­ag­ing nos­tal­gia now is that it’s no longer hark­ing back to a time 30 years ago,” says Imo­gen He­witt, joint ex­ec­u­tive strat­egy direc­tor for the Havas Group in Aus­tralia. “The speed at which the world changes means we can be nos­tal­gic for some­thing that’s only 10 years old. Con­nected to this is how peo­ple feel about the state of the world at the mo­ment. For many peo­ple, a dif­fi­cult present makes for more nos­tal­gia. This then has a knock-on ef­fect for brands try­ing to tap into the mood of their con­sumers.”

We all have ad­ver­tise­ments with which we feel an affin­ity. Think about the Oval­tee­nies, Sprite, or Jol­libee ads. The way we feel about a brand and the mem­o­ries it in­vokes is a pow­er­ful tool; brands in­vest a lot of time and money into cap­i­tal­iz­ing on that con­nec­tion.

Nos­tal­gia isn’t re­stricted to tech, ei­ther. Walk into a store and you’ll be con­fronted by a mod­ern re­cre­ation of fash­ions past. Style’s love for all things nos­tal­gic goes be­yond Ken­dall Jen­ner wear­ing a glo-mesh dress to her 21st birth­day a la Paris Hil­ton circa 2002; over­alls are still a thing, the plas­tic chok­ers we wore when we were 10 are back, and each day we all re­sist the corset craze.

Our ob­ses­sion de­clares our de­sire to hold onto the ma­te­rial of our nos­tal­gia, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Steven. “It speaks to our want to pos­sess some­thing that, even if mass pro­duced, is uniquely ours,” he says. “This is a ques­tion of value and how our pos­ses­sions re­late to our lives more gen­er­ally.”

We hold on to the dream of yesteryear as long as it makes us feel bet­ter. But more and more, how­ever, diehard fans of the orig­i­nal in­car­na­tion are stand­ing up and say­ing, “No more!” They are sick of your walks down mem­ory lane.

As Dr. Don­nar ex­plains, al­though our feel­ings to­wards some­thing we find nos­tal­gic might change over time as we re-ex­pe­ri­ence it, ( we still feel a cer­tain own­er­ship over these texts. The ( prob­lem with this own­er­ship is when we get so pro­tec­tive, and the nos­tal­gia be­comes less about com­mu­nity and social in­ti­macy and more about the ex­clu­sion of new ver­sions and fans. Read: the whole uproar sur­round­ing the Ghost­busters re­make.

Right now we’re liv­ing with a fear about the fu­ture. Will Trump f*ck up our world? At the very least, will he f*ck up freedom of the press? Will our avo­cado habits keep us off the prop­erty lad­der? Will the gen­der pay gap ever truly close? We’re in need of some­thing good and shiny to dis­tract us.

“Even if it feels like a re­treat in some ways, just go­ing back has a positive im­pact,” says Dr. Don­nar. “We live in un­cer­tain times, and it just helps us get by in the present.”

Mod­ern nos­tal­gia acts as a de­lib­er­ate day­dream that re­minds us of a time when we were happy. There’s noth­ing wrong with be­ing happy. So now that Trump is ru­in­ing run­ning the world, let’s in­stead think about his cameo in Home Alone as op­posed to his pos­ses­sion of the nu­clear codes. Feel­ing warm yet?

This pic­ture col­lage mak­ing you feel things? It’s only nat­u­ral. old school cool

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