Paralysis of the rear-view mirror

Paralysis of the rear-view mirror

Nostalgia is a chilling ghost from our pasts, haunting the halls of our minds on a daily basis. It acts as both the angel and devil on our shoulders, consuming our psyche and hindering our growth.

Seeing that nostalgia is “a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time,” as defined by, many people use it to avoid their dreary realities.

According to AP Psychology teacher Sara Youseff, feeling nostalgic can be a bittersweet experience, as there are both negative and positive aspects that come with dwelling on those sentimental emotions. 

“They’ve more recently put it [nostalgia] in the category of grief because you are kind of sad that it’s gone, and the same parts of your brain that fire when you’re sad are firing when people feel nostalgic, but also it has this sweetness to it. So it does bring some levels of dopamine, which is the happy neurotransmitter,” she said.

However, this temporary escape might do more harm than good.

For one, it hinders growth. If we keep our minds planted in one place it will prevent us from moving forward. Though it’s nice to be able to look back, it can also prove to be harmful by leaving us stuck in the past, which ultimately stops us from making the most out of the present.

Everything is always going to look better when you’re looking at it from far away

We often find that the grass is going to look greener from the other side because we’re always longing for an experience that we once had.  It’s nice to be transported back to simpler times, but of course everything is going to look better when you’re looking at it from far away. We over romanticize the past so much that it makes us feel poorly about the present. Looking at our lives through a rose-tinted filter is unhealthy.

Not only can nostalgia impede on growth in our personal lives, but it does so in the entertainment industry as well.

As of late, a lot of the media that we consume in cinema are either revivals or reminiscent of the past in some way. 

Take the recent movie “Anyone But You,” for example. This rom-com grabs classic tropes from other films allusive to one’s existing in early 2000’s. Because of this, there was much excitement surrounding it upon its release.

Perhaps this is due to human’s resistance to change, as we are creatures-of-habit. Rom-coms follow a very specific formula that we’re all quite familiar with, so the outcome is expected.

Disney isn’t even attempting to revamp their content, as they just make all of their old films into live action versions. Though the new casting might be more progressive diversity wise, we’re not exactly moving forward creatively.

There are new movies that always come out but they all have the same storyline; therefore creating constant blasts from the past. Because people aren’t keen to change, new things aren’t coming out, they’re just improved and modernized with technology.

On the other hand, your past can also help guide you into the new stages of life. It’s a kind of “those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it” kind of situation. It gives us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, and can even bring out feelings of comfort and happiness.

But alas, the past is just that: the past. As we yearn for the comfort of it, we can’t all be Marty McFly. That being said, we shouldn’t spend too much time reminiscing about what once was, and start focusing on what is.

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