I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately. If the popularity of books and movies like Ready Player One, as well as the constant stream of remakes, reboots, and sequels are anything to go by, I’m not the only one.
It makes a certain amount of sense that we, both individually and as a story-consuming community, feel drawn to nostalgic books and movies. Engaging with the world right now often feels like death by a thousand keystrokes. It’s so much more pleasant to lose ourselves in the pleasant memories of a simpler time.
It wasn’t actually simpler, of course.
The world has always been a chaotic mess of inequality and resistance and fear and injustice. But, for most of us, the world felt simpler because we were simpler. Our problems were more of the “will my parents let me go to the movies this weekend?” kind, rather than the “how can my single voice ever make a difference to this gross injustice?” kind. So it’s easy to look back and think everything was easier — and, therefore, better — in those days.
But this is not an essay about the tricks nostalgia plays on the past; this is an essay about the tricks we can play on the future — a future where, undoubtedly, there will be people who look back on our current days and say things like: “Remember the good old days when you couldn’t spit without hitting someone making a superhero movie? Those were good times…”