We need that 90s gloom now more than ever
Of that wretched decade the 90s were, I hold dear more than just a few memories; using shards of broken cymbals to rip my jeans apart and wear them coupled with grandpa’s squares shirts, listening to cassette tape compilations of badly recorded music, and being able to effectively vanish for a few hours without the ghost threat of a mobile phone to pinpoint my location at every given second, are but some. What most of all gets me longing for those gone years, however, is remembering how ok it was to be a gloomy young man.
There is no denying that for many citizens of the western hemisphere, those were years of money shortage and social crisis. We didn’t have technology to distract ourselves from life’s inevitable moments of misery, or help us create a polished version of them on the Internet. What we did have, though, was a collectively shared feeling of anger toward our dysfunctional society.
It might not have been much, but if it couldn’t help us understand who or what we were up against, it could at least make us feel part of a bigger group of people who weren’t quite happy with the way things were.
Our generation was international, diverse, and unapologetic; the existential dread smelled the same on everyone, and we wore it proudly, like a badge, throughout our daily existence. We hung out in soggy old factories where live music could be played loud all night, and where, with a bit of luck, you could find yourself hearing words of wisdom sung by men not much older than your age:
I don’t mind stealing bread from the mouths of decadence.But I can’t feed on the powerless, when my cup’s already overfilled.
Hunger Strike , Temple of the Dog
I’m not saying life was harder back then — living in the present is always as hard as it gets — what I’m trying to point out is that, unlike today, we were allowed to feel openly sad about it. We didn’t need dating apps to alleviate loneliness or bitcoins to give us the illusion of wealth. We embraced boredom and sadness, and made them our life Manifesto.
We were living a grim Today, but felt no less Alive than our fathers. Born in This Town, beneath the greyness cast by the Shadow Of The Season, we were waiting for a Black Hole Sun to “wash away the rain”. In those years ruled by suited-up Gentlemen, be like us meant being considered nothing short of a Freak. But we could still very clearly Feel The Pain of everyone and be grateful for not having become Dumb enough to trade our humanity for money or false comfort. Such was our life in a Nutshell.
In this age of having rather than being something, things are not much different. We still live in a world that, despite having given us birth, constantly tries to cast us out of the picture, making us feel guilty for who we are and how we feel. A world that wants us to turn an indulgent face to its glorified ignorance and violence, to its racism and misogynous temper, to its law of the strongest and its obsession with power.
Then why do we seem to be trying so hard to fit in instead of taking pride in being left out? Why do we listen to songs that tell us to be happy instead of seeing our sadness as a gift of utmost understanding?
We keep our hands busy and our minds constantly occupied, but none of it seems to be taking us anywhere near happiness. Infinitely more than rich and popular, we would need to feel real and at peace with our emotions, same as we felt during those blissfully wretched Gloomy90s.