Facebook & The Charitable Deceptions Of Nostalgia

Facebook trends proceed at a spooky (in the quantum sense) pace. It took the New York Times all of a week to pick up on 25 Random Things. I’ve noticed a subtler trend lately, one that is perhaps a more obvious sign of the times. The nostalgic photo album.

It seems that every time I open my account I have been tagged in a new photo from the late 80s or early 90s. I click the link and there I am again in a black and red flannel. And this trend knows no boundaries. I grew up in Italy and was tagged in a group photo from scuola elementare. You can see me in the back row, white shirt tucked into blue sweat pants, followed by two dozen comments along the lines of “che tremendo” or “dai, troppo forte!”

Where is this global flood of nostalgia coming from? I think my generation is finally scared. I think we’re looking at two wars and a bad economy and remembering when Smashing Pumpkins came out and cruelty could still be confused with flirtation. As outlets go, however, I’d say this is fairly healthy. After a historic but short-lived unity, the post-911 Bush years brought ugliness—we saw increased interracial violence and a spike in sales at the box office for horror movies as we tried to muddle through the trauma. I’m fine with a trip down memory lane. We could use, to borrow from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, some charitable deceptions of nostalgia.

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