Nostalgia. When I was younger I often thought about how pathetic old people were, being nostalgic about Perry Como and Frank Sinatra, when we had the Beatles and Frank Zappa.
Of course, I was aware that life is cyclical, that everybody gets to that age and that some day I would be just as lame as they were.
I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but I look at facebook and I can see that a lot of the people my age sure the hell are. I see so many posts saying “Share if you remember what this is” along with some device that you don’t see any more because we don’t need it any more.
Since a lot of my facebook friends are writers, I see a lot of people who are actually nostalgic about typewriters. Fuck that.
As much as I curse my computer, I’d never want to go back to that. It’s not just the mess of having to change the ribbon, the awkwardness of slipping paper, the having to use whiteout to correct each error separately, the lack of spell check meaning if you had doubts about a word you had to look it up in a dictionary – which was a book – or the necessity of hitting the keys with enough pressure to smack the paper, although all of those things were pains in the ass which I’m happy to see swallowed up by the oblivion of the past.
No, the main drawback was, after you finished writing, what you were left with were words on paper; your brilliant poem, article, or short story – and to get anybody else to see it, you actually had to show it to them physically. Getting one other person to look at something was difficult. Getting hundreds to look at something was damned near impossible.
What we have now is so much better I didn’t even imagine it at the time. It is a significant , quantum improvement in my life; not just a collection of physical conveniences but a whole new level of communication.
I feel as if it would be ungrateful to the present to be nostalgic about such a pathetic past. If people in the future feel the same about what we have now, my mind boggles at how brilliant that future will have to be.