Throughout history, when a lack of belief or an uncertainty in the future found a home in our collective conscious, nostalgia suddenly becomes de rigueur. It’s something the victorians were rather good at in that uncertain age of the machine and naturally, it’s something that modern society has adopted too. It was our armour in the The Great Recession. Offering relief in a brief head trip ‘home’ to a happier place and time. Sometimes those times were borrowed (like a love for all things 50s American kitsch) and sometimes first-hand remembered, but always they were just better. Infinitely better than the now.
The word itself comes from the Greek words ‘nostos’ and ‘algos’, meaning ‘a pain for the return home’. And Ireland, for many years, has been wallowing in the painful wish to return ‘home’, to an Ireland we once knew.
It was everywhere – whether it was reminiscing over Dib Dabs, hunting for vintage crap for our homes or picking a soft lit crackled Instagram filter. Nostalgia seeped into all aspects of our culture. It was as if there was suddenly some rule that if something was over 10 years old, it was infinitely better than anything we have now – because everything we had now was generally shite – crippling debt, terrorism, war, overpriced pints, flooding, dwindling pensions, pedophile priests and TV presenters, the end of Harry Potter, Oxygen instead of Witness, shite clubs, jeggings, Madeline McCann, Hussein… after Hussein, your Mum’s updates on Facebook… Even yesterday’s shite was considered infinitely better than today’s shite. “Do you remember going to Mosney?” “God it was shite.” “So shite – the pool was filled with used plasters.” “God, I miss that shite.”
Naturally where culture goes, fashion, brands and media followed. And whether you read the sort of time wasting vacuous trollop that makes up most of Buzzfeed, are a FOMO news addict of TheJournal, or a traditional reader of broadsheets; you constantly encountered (and still encounter) long lists of the sort of old stuff we are supposed to breathe a collective sigh for. All of it culminating in ‘peak nostalgia’ – when we sit every telly in Ireland once a year, nursing glasses of vino and blearily hurling abuse at a poor Ryan Tubridy for not being Gay Byrne (despite that being someone who half us don’t even remember) and the toys not being like our toys… just praying for stuff to go wrong. God bless the Late Late Toy Show and God bless Ireland.
But now I think it is time to let it go…
Because a love of nostalgia means a disdain for today and an even greater mistrust in our individual and collective future. It’s just another symptom and symbol of doom and gloom. And while cleverly disguised and nicely packaged in bunting, polka dots and vintage bow (or sometimes just in the irony of hipsterdom), it still just represents a subconscious pessimism. And, frankly, I’m rather sick of the pessimism. Aren’t we all? Give me white walls, clean lines modern tastes and simple living – uncluttered by the past.
And I have a theory.
It’s along the same lines as those the micro-economic indicators such as the hemlines or the level of sales in lipstick or nail polish. Skirts go up in a recovering economy and sales of nail polish go up during a recession (an indulgence we can afford when money is tight).
So, I reckon if Ireland’s successes is inversely proportional to our love of nostalgia, then the Christmas jumper needs to die.
Why? Well its the ultimate symbol of this obsession with nostalgia and the epitome of all that is wrong with it. A mass adoption of something pointless and ugly from the 80s, that nobody ever liked in the first place. How I loath the Christmas Jumper and the forced vomit-inducing ironic fun that’s supposed to go along with it. Everyone does it and nobody even knows why anymore. It is done, done, so done. Poor Tubs knew it but we just wouldn’t let him get away. Besides, I seriously doubt anyone’s ever pulled in a Christmas jumper… ever.
So anyway, right now we have reached current ‘peak Christmas jumper’ according to the holy grail of internet insights that is Google trends. But I think, I think, it may be levelling off.. and if we see a drop off in jumper sales and searches for 2015… well I reckon there’s a fierce chance we’re out of recession lads.
Aaaaaand several months later, looks like I was right! Thanks College Humour!