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Nostalgia-Society yearns for the past due to polarization


Vittorio Emanuelo Monumento, RomePhoto by Joseph Earnest


 by Joseph Earnest July 2, 2013


Newscast Media HOUSTONNever have we been so polarized as we are today, the after-effects of which can be attributed to the events that happened in the last week of June.  Some of the events that unfolded included the Supreme Court decisions, the Paula Dean saga, the ongoing Trayvon Martin case and more revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) had a wider scope in its secret wiretapping practice that extended to European Union countries and not just the United States.


Last week revealed the amount of frustration, distrust and disappointment people feel toward the government and one another.  What surprises this journalist is the depth of resentment and anger that has been manifesting via blogs, the media and social platforms.


One of the questions that kept coming up during my interactions over the weekend, was what my take was on the above-mentioned issues. Regardless of whether or not I agreed or disagreed with what may or may not be reversible, all I could say to my guests was, "It is what it is."


Nostalgia for the 80s

There seems to be a thought pattern that emanated around 2007/2008 when social media became a popular platform for communicating. I noticed that people seemed to post photos of themselves or people they knew in the 80s.  On YouTube, the most popular broadcasting social network, users started populating it with videos from the 80s and the comments were very revealing as to how much people miss those days.  Those days are gone, yet it must be comforting for those reminiscing about that era, to recapture some of the highlights of the 80s.


Setting out to investigate why the 80s seem to be more preferable than the new millennium was an undertaking I decided to embark upon.  Today, everything is much quicker and more readily available than the 80s, due to the advanced technology.


The greater the disconnect we have due to the advances in technology, the more people lose a part of their authentic selves because the natural instincts bestowed by nature, are slowly being replaced with automated, pre-programmed reactions, instead of free-flowing and genuine reactions based on the authentic self.


Nothing has destroyed families more than television and the electronic media. There once was a time when having meals like breakfast and dinner was a family event...a place where people shared stories about what happened at work, school or the playground.  Now, as available as TV is on wireless devices, some have eliminated the dining area as a place to have those meals.


Fast foods and microwave dinners are slowly replacing traditional meals created from scratch, because quite frankly, homemakers have been stigmatized, and cooking for someone else, is viewed as repressive in certain circles or cultures.  Remember when Ann Romney was destroyed for saying she was a proud homemaker? Compare that to the 80s when people took pride in preparing meals without the fear of being attacked for having domestic skills.


One war veteran lamented the way he felt devalued after spending three years stationed in Europe and returned to his hometown of Atlanta.  "When I returned, nobody was excited to see me back...just a few cats, but that soon faded," he said. "In Europe, I was treated like a king, and when I returned after eight months of being in Atlanta, I received much love from them," he added.


All that former soldier ever wanted was to feel valued, and sadly he only felt that sense of appreciation, admiration and respect when he was overseas.

"When you are an American in a foreign country, you receive rockstar treatment even from the most beautiful women. You don't wanna come back. In America, such women would never look at you twice," the same soldier said in the interview.


I couldn't resist inquiring from another gentleman about the pattern I noticed, regarding the fascination White men have for Asian women.


"They are laid back," he said.  "I don't feel like we are competing with each other. We both know our roles.  If I could get a nice-paying job in her home country, I would move there in heartbeat and maybe teach English or literature. Being stationed in Asia opened my eyes,"  he added.


As for modern-day relationships, the damage social media has done to the communication process is evident. In a New York Times article about the end of courtship, the writer says:


"Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of "asynchronous communication," as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it's more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.

"I've seen men put more effort into finding a movie to watch on Netflix Instant than composing a coherent message to ask a woman out," said Anna Goldfarb, 34, an author and blogger in Moorestown, N.J," in this controversial article. *The comments section is very interesting (pop-up)

When words had weight

The unscientific investigation I did on 80s nostalgia also revealed that people today seem more distrustful of those in authority, particularly figures in public office, due to certain predispositions, whether real or imaginary, that have been shaped by the realities formed in each individual's mind, based on past experiences.  Promises are no longer relied upon when made, because they are viewed as statements of convenience meant to pander to a target audience.


The era we live in is completely different from that in which our parents grew up, when a handshake was as good as a signed contract...when people did not have to lock their doors in their neighborhoods...when kids could park their bikes outside a grocery store without worrying about someone stealing it...when a doctor recommended an operation because it was necessary, not because he or she was trying to pay off a yacht...when teachers in school taught because it was their calling...and preachers preached for the same reason...when citizens did not have to second-guess why their countries were fighting wars...and what was considered newsworthy was the positive side of humanity, rather than sensationalism...when women embraced their femininity and didn't try to act and look like men, while men embraced their masculinity and didn't try to act and emulate feminine traits...when the words like "please", "I'm sorry", "thank you", or "excuse me" were considered courteous overtures and a sign of good upbringing...above all, when friendliness was viewed without suspicion, and true friendship was a celebrated gift.


Despite society being polarized and infected with nostalgia, are our best days behind us?  I think not. Some things are beyond our control, but we can control how we react to the outcome of certain events.


In the popular movie Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift, Han makes the utterance:

"Life is simple...you make choices, and you don't look back."




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