"Progress's natural companion is nostalgia for the way things used to be." - from episode 6 of This American Life, the TV show
I don't know about the rest of the world, but for me the sentence above is a perfect summation of our existence, as of late. I remember growing up and hearing adults complain about how fast everything was changing, that one day we wouldn't be able to buy the newest version before another was released. Well, I get it now. Are we there yet?
The above quote is from an episode called Pandora's Box, from a sequence on pig farming. The story explores man vs. nature, scientists trying to create the perfect piece of meat, and in the process losing the essential pig altogether. Different things happened in the course of pig-perfecting, and basically scientists and farmers ended up simply trading quality for quality. At one point you start to think, Have they really moved forward at all, or are they just running in place?
Since I've moved here, I've been reminded time and again of how young I am, and how much has changed in my life. The biggest realization of this happened when I was introduced to one of the computers I work on at CSA. It reminds me of the computer I used in the days of middle school and the Oregon Trail, when AIM first came out and chat rooms were the bee's knees. (That is a great phrase, don't knock it.) But there are people I work with that remember when they bought that computer and it was absolutely state-of-the-art. When was this? Not much more than 10 years ago. In that time, we've progressed so much that I don't even know how to work this computer anymore. I'm like the out-of-date teacher that can never find the power button.
As I've gotten older, I've noticed that I get more cases of nostalgia, and I wonder if this is because I have more years to reminisce, or because things are changing so quickly that I have too much to think back about. More of my conversations begin with, "Remember when..." I find myself longing for the days of renting a VHS, of listening to CD's in a boombox, even of the old Facebook that was only college students. I miss actual photographs and snail mail. I miss running to get the phone in time, not knowing who it would be but hoping it was that certain boy. I miss Pac Man, Super Mario, and Boy Meets World. Hell, I miss scrunchies.
Every time they change something and claim that it's new and improved, all I can think is, Again?? I just don't buy it. I know of people who still own their appliances from the 40's and 50's, who haven't had as many problems and repairs as appliances bought last year. It's all just one big quality trade-off. I don't think we'll ever get all of the kinks out, but if we did I'd probably miss them.