The Internet Killed Nostalgia
When we’re mauled with nostalgia content on a daily basis, it’s like the past is inescapable.
In college, this was known as the best night of the week to go out. Thirsty Thursday has since been replaced with a lesser title: Throwback Thursday, or as one would refer to it on Instagram and Twitter, #tbt.
Throwback Thursday gives social media users an excuse to post old photos of themselves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., and though it’s definitely amusing to upload nerdy snapshots from the past, Throwback Thursday stopped being cute a long time ago. Maybe it was when Flashback Friday was born because people decided they needed more than just one day a week to cling to the past. Or when social media users started posting photos taken a week earlier under the #tbt hashtag, abusing the battered trend for no reason at all other than to be annoying. According to Digital Trends, more than 40 million tagged photos are under #tbt, with over 135,000 including the wordier #ThrowbackThursday. Major celebrities like Kim Kardashian exploit the nostalgia tag just as often as their non-famous counterparts, encouraging their millions of followers to glorify what once was.
The tags that were once considered sentimental and endearing have become obnoxious pleas for attention and “likes,” but perhaps the biggest assault on nostalgia comes from BuzzFeed, which has an entire vertical devoted to the past. On occasion, the Rewind section publishes thoughtful and interesting nostalgia-related stories, such as the short writeup on Beanie Babies with high monetary value and listicle on the unsolved mysteries of 90s treasure, Hook, but more often than not, the site just wants to remind millennials that they’re no longer pre-teens and therefore older than dirt:
When BF isn’t telling us we may as well check into retirement homes and get colonoscopies, the site is resurrecting old trends like the “Now That’s What I Call Music” franchise, which never seemed to catch up with the times even when people still thought about it. BF can’t handle the fact that some teenagers have never heard of N’ Sync or that Furbies haven’t been popular in nearly fifteen years. We’re not kids anymore, and despite our many freedoms as adults, BF would like us to believe our best days — packed with Koosh balls, Tamagotchis, Bill Nye, spiked hair, and awkward school dances — are behind us.
BuzzFeed Rewind, #TBT, #FlashbackFriday, and other outlets for reflection do a great disservice by highlighting the past regularly. It’s fun to hear about AOL instant messenger or Lizzie McGuire once or twice a year, but when we’re mauled with childhood content on a daily basis, it’s like junior high is inescapable and we never left 2001, and do you really want to go back to middle school? Do you really want content that reaches 85 million unique visitors created by those who’d rather be listening to CDs and doodling with sparkley gel pens?