If you were born in the late ‘80s or ‘90s, you might have been described as a Millennial. Our parents were Generation X…and we were the result. But Millennials have always had a bad reputation. We’ve been called the chronic complainers, the lazy ones who are averse to any kind of hard work, and the ones who constantly compare our lives with other generations. So is there a reason for this? Why are we the generation of nostalgia?
What is nostalgia?
So firstly, what is this nostalgia we’re feeling? Why do we have it? Well, the Oxford Dictionary defines nostalgia as ‘a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past.’ The word itself comes from the Greek word ‘nostos’ – meaning to ‘return home’ – and ‘algos’ – meaning pain. So in short, we pine over the fact that we can no longer return to the past. One problem with the idea of nostalgia is that our minds and our memories become edited over time, and we look to our idealized memories, rather than our actual memories. Despite this, these memories connect with millennials on an emotional level, because reliving these positive memories makes us feel better about the past than we do about the present of the future.
The rise in technology
As millennials, we were brought up like our mothers and fathers. We used chalk instead of iPads; we played outside rather than played on the PlayStation, and we talked to our friends via cup-phones, rather than iPhones. Sure, these things came later, but we got to experience life in all it’s natural beauty – before things started to drastically change. During the course of our childhood, technology improved so much that we lost sight of what growing up was all about. Suddenly, technology took over everyone’s life, and our enjoyment was cut short. Nowadays, we can barely remember playing out in the streets, playing hopscotch and trying to figure out the cat’s cradle. We know we did it. But we were the ones who were in the in-between. Our parents were brought up in a world devoid of technology – and our children will be brought up in a world that runs on technology. There is a divide, and we long for how things were.
Changing economic climates
I know, politics and the economy. Boring, right? But unconsciously, we know that this is an issue that is drastically changing our way of life – and is the cause of our nostalgia. In a way, our nostalgia comes from the fact that we are bitter. And Generation X just don’t get it. Back in the day, our parents could get good grades, work hard, go to college, earn money, and live a happy life. But for us millennials, that option is not so readily available. School got harder, our mental health worsened, college became more expensive, and the prospect of a grad job was more of a dream than a reality. Sure, we’ll offer you an entry level job…but have you got three years experience?
We can look back on the past
When we grew up, we didn’t have Google. We couldn’t watch videos of cats on skateboards, we couldn’t look up every single piece of information about our favorite celebs, and most importantly…we couldn’t look back on the past. But nowadays we can. By just a quick Google search, we can find pictures, videos, and information about how life used to be 10, 20, or 100 years ago. And we adopt their styles in the best way we can. We adopt their fashion sense – just think of all the ‘80s and ‘90s fashion that is currently all the rage, we adopt their music tastes and buy vinyls rather than CD’s, and we adopt their ways of life. Yet, we can’t fully embrace ourselves into this role. Because we’re not there. And society doesn’t allow us – calling us ‘Hipsters’ and ‘Hippies.’ Nope, we’re just pining over things we can’t have. The world is constantly moving forward when we want to stay still.
The fact that millennials are suffering from nostalgia has since become a common marketing technique. Brands and companies have tapped into what millennials want, and are spreading it’s nostalgic message through various mediums. An example of this is Pokemon Go. Of course, we all remember playing Pokemon when we were younger, and it was the best game ever, right? Bringing the Pokemon Go app into the 21st century was a marketing ploy to couple up the power of nostalgia with modern technology. Suddenly, you could play your favorite retro game from the confined spaces of your 9-5 cubicle. Yet, this game still became incredibly popular, because it was the closest people would get to reliving their enjoyable, technology-free upbringing. These big companies are adopting these marketing ploys more and more as the years go on, and we just can’t escape these blatant nostalgic moments.
We currently live in an era with no name – the 2010’s. As millennials, we can understand that the world has advanced in some of the most amazing and unbelievable ways. But are we going too fast? What if we want a name? All we want is to slow it down, take it back to basics, and relive our simple childhoods that were cut short.