Mirror Mirror - 2019


Happy Anniversary to Our Nostalgia

By Jennifer Allen

“Memories sharpen the past; it is reality that decays." ~ Siddhartha Mukherjee

2019 has been an interesting year, so far. Already we've seen some recent milestones that we can later celebrate with our children and grandchildren. The US congress has elected the most women in 2018, sworn in 2019, in history. Japan's Emperor will abdicate the throne for the first time in 200 years. Avengers: Endgame is now one of the most watched (and profitable) movies in cinematic history. We have six more months to go, so here's to hoping we'll have more to celebrate before January 1, 2020 hits our calendars.

But we have so many other milestones to remember and cherish. Some are within our lifetime. Others are far past that, but still just as important and memorable. Each personal experience with these milestones is different. I cannot speak for the rest of you, so instead I thought I would express what some of these milestones in my lifetime mean to me.

There are a few events on these lists which I can honestly say I remember through fond nostalgia.

While I was born a few years after the Moon Landing and Woodstock (both 50 years old this year), I distinctly remember when the Berlin Wall came down and later Germany was once again one country. I was in high school ironically taking language classes in German, so we discussed these topics quite a bit. Even though I've never been to Germany, I had seen photos of the Wall that my parents took in the mid-1960's. Even then it had the barbed wire, the graffiti, and the guard posts. But suddenly we saw a televised broadcast of people climbing on top of the wall and hammering away at the concrete that had been there for almost 30 years as well. We all sat and watched as suddenly there was no longer an East or West Germany.

I remember David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and David Hasselhoff all giving concerts to inspire East German youth. I knew this would become a big part of History, and I was able to experience it.

The Y2k Scare was a phenomenon 20 years ago. And what a beautiful disaster that was. All of us scrambling at stores to grab water, rations, camping gear and even guns by the carloads as we thought that a possible glitch in computers of changing from “99" to “00" would end the world as we knew it. It was one of the first times we fully realized just how dependent to computerized technology we as human beings had become. Clinton even hired a “Crisis Management Expert" to prevent a Y2k meltdown.

Luckily the situation turned out to be nothing more than paranoia and all of computers flipped to “00" or “2000" without much fanfare. And we all either laugh about it now or have blocked the incident from our memory.

1999 was also the release of four very influential movies that (depending on your taste) would change cinema drastically for years after. The Sixth Sense and Fight Club both gave us some of the most unexpected plot twists ever and also elevated little known directors M. Night Shyamalan and David Fincher into superstardom. There had been movies with twists before, but these two films made the twist ending almost required for a few years to come. Fincher decided to try other things, but Shyamalan I think tried too hard to capture the magic he had with The Sixth Sense in other films and it just didn't quite work.

Also hitting the movie screens in the summer of 1999 were The Matrix and Star Wars Episode I. I was already pretty much established as a geek at this point, but I probably went a bit overboard when I managed to see The Matrix twice and Phantom Menace three times in theaters that summer. While the new Star Wars turned out to be not as great as people were expecting, The Matrix on the other hand practically came out of nowhere and had everyone talking about its unique (for the time) visual style and philosophical story creatively hidden behind entertaining fight choreography.

What's also great is that for the most part, all of these titles have aged pretty well and garnered a lot of love in the form of spoofs and homages. The bullet time sequences alone from The Matrix alone have been replicated more times than I can count.

It's already pretty scary that Facebook came into being 15 years ago. That seems like -ages- nowadays even though it's such a tiny spec of time. I wasn't one of those who rushed to get an account, but I was active on it around 2007 or so. At first it was great. It was a way to keep in touch with old friends and to see what my family was doing. Over time, however, as my friendlist grew the people closer to me were just part of a list and it was growing harder and harder to keep track of everyone. Eventually it turned into a long scrolling glob of memes, YouTube video links, and very little posting that was well… real. Eventually some of the real posts I saw were shifting from supportive to cruel. Abuse is still abuse no matter what medium it comes from, and so in 2015 I left and I never looked back.

I still look at it as a positive experience due to the fact there were good moments from time to time and I did connect with some amazing people on there.

It's been five years since we lost the comedic genius that was Robin Williams. I've loved his work ever since he was on Mork and Mindy. Now I am sad that he is no longer with us, and the circumstances of his death were extremely tragic. However, I cannot help but feel uplifted any time I see old clips of him in film, TV or standup. He simply had an aura and a mind that would always work like a clock… tick-tocking away in order to string right words together to make people laugh. Robin Williams' purpose in life was to make us feel, and I simply cannot be sad because he was so perfect at it.

So, what milestones do you personally remember fondly? The Moon Landing (50 years ago)? The first time you saw The Simpsons (30 years ago)? Seeing US Airways Flight 1549 land in the Hudson River (10 years ago)? Narendra Modi first becoming Prime Minster of India (5 years ago)?

Whichever anniversary of Nostalgia hits you closest, just remember that it shouldn't make you feel old. You experienced a part of history that has helped shape who you are as a person. In the end, that's something you should always be proud of.

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Jennifer Allen works at Saathee and is also a Podcaster, Blogger, Photographer & Graphic Artist.