Oh Nostalgia, I Don’t Need You Anymore (Why I Suck at Instagram)

Funny how many of my pieces are inspired by musicians. Stan Patrick Stump. Photo by Isravel Raj on Unsplash

Let’s start with context: a couple of years ago, I shut down my Instagram because I felt the way the culture of interaction there pushed me deeper into my depression (which reached its peak around 2018). I’m not the only one, nor am I the first to talk about how seeing other people’s projected perfection makes oneself feel inadequate at best, bull-crap at worst. In 2019, I decided to restart my Instagram for a practical reason: I was getting a corporate job and my Macbook is dead (Rest in Pieces, you expensive little shit), so Instagram inevitably became the most versatile and convenient way for me to host my art because Behance requires heavy formatting.

Off topic, but one of my colleagues asked me why my stories are often posted in ‘Closed Friends’ mode — the answer is multi-faceted, but mainly it’s because I would like to keep a more pristine brand for the larger audience. I would post events in my life for that list of friends because I am challenging myself to be less of a self-appointed outcast, but at the same time felt like the majority of people should not be privy of my personal life.

Digression aside, I did this Instagram thing, and it re-baffled me of just how MUCH people share. Truly, as someone whose privacy meant more than it healthily should, I saw Instagram as this weird hub of slice-of-life porn (yes, reference is intended). Once, I asked myself, “Is it weird that I often forget where I placed my glasses, but I know some person’s grandmother’s colonoscopy schedule?” I’ve seen people actually FIGHT over a post. That’s fucked up.

(I know that’s fucked up because I used to be that person. It was one of the reasons why I deleted the app. Never again in my life I would allow Mark Zuckerberg abuse my low self-esteem and determined my value and validity as a human being.)

Now, it should be obvious that the onslaught of posts happen much more during cultural time-stamps: holidays, birthdays, weddings, the lot. Since I’m doing this flash on the 1st day of 2020, I’m going to say my piece about one particular trend: the “Decade Challenge”. I’m talking about that post of the things people experienced in the last decade (or year), and their glow up and what their hopes are for the future. Some posted their geek-to-chic pictures, some listed down their decade achievements, some dedicated their ‘Top 9’ Instagram posts, and all the forms that follows.

Last concert I attended didn’t allow pics. It was great. Photo by Noiseporn on Unsplash

The positives? There’s a lot of it. Some of the stories told are genuinely inspiring, and I am truly happy to see so many of my friends and people on the internet helped each other with their individual experiences. This is not a piece to delegitimize any of those stories. This is, however, a rambling about the significance of nostalgia in Instagram- and how I personally respond to it. My gripe on how this trend works is that it drives people to scroll WAY back and make some romantic sentiment on how much things have changed for the better, frame it like they’ve grown exponentially within those years, and that 2020 is somehow significant because it marks a decade.

Realistically, not everyone had a good year or a good decade. Many doesn’t even have a good lifetime. The world is an oyster for some, a flickering wick for others. The last year or decade maybe really terrible for someone, and these someones may not feel welcomed to the party.

What I’m trying to say, is that this trend of thanksgiving tied with nostalgia sometimes gives me grief. It presumes that people should be thankful for the past because of all the good things that had happened. Mind you that with Instagram, these events are often cranked up to eleven. It’s filled with trips and trophies. The posts most liked are the ones which throwback is the most extravagant. I worry that it drives people to make a disingenuous portrayal of their life- forced to dig up something good in the last decade, or at least last year, so they can fit in. I worry that in response to a dying world, people are creating a utopic echo-chamber filled with tales of fulfilled dreams, which belittles the significance of failures. Eventually, it boils down to a single question: Why can’t we just be present?

The Proverb said it best when he talked about the futility of toil. I offer, that none of the events in your life that had happened should matter more than the day you’re living right now. You can look back and see it with fondness or lament, but aside from the temporary air of nostalgia that blows, it does very little for your being today. I’ve talked about suicides before and how often it’s not foreseen — shows that your present assessment and wellbeing is so significant. Thanksgiving should be a contemporary act as much it is a retrospective one. The only beneficial takeaway from the past should be the lessons you learned from it, and even then the celebration should be about the current implementation. A person should be able to have a horrible past decade or year and not be driven to feel more shitty — because today matters so much more. There’s nothing wrong with looking back and digging up memories to feel better, but I propose that going out and petting a cute street cat will do much more for your soul than some rusty old flashback.

Each day has enough troubles of its own.” — Every day people are faced with the possibility of suffering or jubilance, and so looking too far back or too far forward is probably not a good idea. Your present should be graced with the attention it deserves, because it determines who you are today, and believe me how much that would save you from worrying. You don’t have to fight to make your year brilliant, you just have to make your now matter. Since none of us know when we’re going to pass, might as well give more thought of who we are as a person if we die today, rather than what we looked like the past ten years.

What has been, will be again. What has been done, will be done again. Your value should not be held hostage by comparing it to your past, especially the by your old Instagram posts. Happy today, everyone.

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Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.

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Jane Revevalin

Jane Revevalin

Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.

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