Return of the Kitsch

They say that ‘nostalgia isn’t what it used to be’

But ‘they’ are wrong.

Nostalgia is alive and well and playing in a brain near you. Just spend a couple of minutes away from your mobile or other time devouring device and gradually your sub conscious will start re-emerging, timidly at first then more assertively as your brain starts to remember that there was life before IOS7 or Android Jellybean version five hundred and fifty-five.

Maybe it’s because I am getting a little bit older, but it seems to me we are rather scared of spending time alone with ourselves nowadays. Or perhaps we are just so ‘connected’ that our brains just don’t want to admit they can’t keep up and so invent excuses not to switch off.

Twitter is my current favourite waste of time, not because it brings me closer to my real life idols, nor because it allows me to keep up with current affairs in an amazingly quick and inclusive way. No, I like twitter because it means I don’t have to think, I just scan and let the rest take care of itself.

Not really a healthy way to spend all my down time on though, is it?

So you might imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when my brain started to wake up again and make demands on my downloadmemory, forcing me to dredge up images of my childhood, happy ones I am pleased to say. About telephones with wires, which sat proudly in my parents hall, Televisions that had wooden facades and videos that loaded from the top and boasted of remote control, yet needed a cable running along the floor to achieve ‘remote’ on and off access.

My nostalgia also extended to a quick giggle about cassette players with microphones you had to plug in to record, integrated music centres with a turntable, cassette and radio (all covered in a smoky gray, top of the range, plastic cover I might add) and calculators with LED red displays that could only add up, take away and if you were lucky, divide and multiply. (Universally hated and feared by schools).

Music CentreI suppose part of all this stems from a recent fascination with the Radio Times, a clear reminder of my childhood which lands on my doorstep every week now, highlighting the current fascination TV and radio seem to have about the eighties, which was a special time for me.

But once that nostalgia genie is out of the bottle it’s not easy to put it back. It is actually great to remind ourselves about a time of limited choice, where four TV channels mattered and choosing a show meant careful consideration, where pubs were for talking and socialising in, not tweeting and fingering phones all night and where conversation meant just that.

I love Twitter, I enjoy Facebook, I email without thought and answer most questions via google. I have even bought into the ‘double screen’ concept and enjoy programmes like question time with one eye on what the twitterati are saying.

But am I any richer for the experience I wonder?

Not really.

Certainly my brain doesn’t think so. We are just not designed to be wired to the massive twenty-four seven and I often wonder…

Are we are so locked in our desire to share our experiences that we forget to live in the moment?

If so then we will find ourselves forgetting what we actually saw and end up remembering via our pictures and our clever little social media one liners: delivering false memories which are less intense and more constructed.

Don’t believe me? Then try tapping into your nostalgia for a moment and see how vivid those memories are compared to your recent ones… Try it. It is quite an eye opener.

Go on…

What have you got to lose?

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"No matter how we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition" Milan Kundera


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