I found an old toy car in ceiling while renovating the basement bathroom. I showed my nephew, who said “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.”
True. And they never will. And then I wondered, Does it really matter?
I mean, they still make toy cars. Granted I assume out of cheap plastic and some hitherto unheard of metal that for sure isn’t lead. Probably breaks easily. But no matter how well built those old toys were we managed to break them too.
We look at these new toys and make a contextual comparison. Not as good. A child does not do that. Cannot do that. They have no context, even if you explain it to them.
The child’s imagination makes the car real whether well-made or not. And when the car breaks they move on or improvise.
So yes, sometimes our nostalgia has a tendency to place judgment on the present. I think it is necessary at times. Sometimes things do get worse and for reasons perhaps we can address.
I don’t think we are so judicious in our nostalgic judgments though. We like to slapdash it on everything. We yearn for the good ole days of television and music and political parties and kids’ behavior in public and so many other things.
We inherently know for many of these things that culture and technology and society and historical events have created an environment where they wouldn’t thrive. It might be picturesque to have thousands of hansoms driving around New York City but hardly practical.
Perhaps it’s an ego thing. Perhaps in judging (negatively) the present we elevate the past, a past we are more connected to, and thus raise our feelings of self-worth. My past is better than your present. The present that belongs to the next generation who are all messed up. Kids these days.
I think nostalgia is good. I think you should share your nostalgia with others, especially anyone younger (however old you are). Share it with pride. Share it because it makes you feel good. And share it because it helps those you share it with understand who you are.
You may need to judge the present but don’t do it because it’s not the past.
The good old days are gone. Love today.