Longing for the good ol' days...


temporarily a Canada boy 💜🇨🇦
Oct 30, 2011
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I was watching a video earlier about Spongebob's cultural impact on society, and the guy mentioned something about how "It helps us remember a time where stuff was easier, where our biggest worry was making sure we could get to the TV on time for the newest episode." basically saying that watching those older episodes gives us nostalgia, and transports us to a time in our childhood when things were simpler and not nearly as complicated.

the thing is, though, that I don't really feel that way. I don't share in most people's sentiment that they want to go back to "the good ol' days", when everything was easier and simpler. I think, relatively speaking, childhood appears to have been easier. but when you think about it in the context of actually being a child, it's a whole lot different. I don't feel like I had an easy childhood. I did get by well enough, but as an autistic child I struggled a lot and I was constantly misunderstood. so to me, the concept of wanting to go back in time and relive the past is foreign. I personally don't want to go back. I do have a lot of nostalgia for early Spongebob and many other things, but there's no part of me that would ever want to actually go back to those days. I'm very content embracing the present day, and using this time to create new and lasting memories. I don't like living in the past. I sometimes think about the past, and use that thought process to understand why some things happened the way they did, but I never make myself cozy in those thoughts.

does anyone else feel the same way? is anyone else unsettled about the the idea, perpetuating through society, that we should long for the "good ol' days"? I can't say I've ever actually met someone else who feels the same way that I do.
this looks like a super interesting watch, thank you so much for linking it! i've only watched the first couple of mins of this because i want to sit down properly and watch it while i have lunch 👀 but everything i've heard so far relates to me! spongebob (and tv in general) had a big hand in raising me. it's how i spent a lot of my time as a little one, when i was babysat by my grandparents; who both had an issue with me wanting to go outside to play unsupervised. i never really ventured off to play on my own because my grandparents were both kind of sheltered and wanted to make sure i was safe. so it was just probably just easier for them to have me at home, watching tv or playing games. as i got older and became more of a latchkey kid at home, "being raise by tv" continued on because i had to make sure i went straight home after school.

i think that both sentiments kinda resonate with me if that's possible 😵 i'm prone to being nostalgic and sometimes feel like i look back at things with rose coloured glasses, but at the same time, i recognize that i was pretty lonely and also felt pretty misunderstood by the adults in my life. and at times, it was easier to bottle things in than try to get my feelings/needs met. i totally see how this has affected how i turned out. there are times where i feel like i might be socially stunted because i missed out on a lot of socializing early on in my life and feel like i lack the skills to navigate certain situations... so basically i see both sides 🥺 i do miss earlier times, but i recognize that maybe things are alright now too!
i think it's pretty common to almost "glamorize" your childhood. when you don't have certain things in the present, it's easy to remember "the good old days" when you had them. in this case, as a child, you generally have less stress, less responsibilities, more free time, a bigger social circle. is that always the case for everyone? no, but i at least definitely miss being a child. the whimsy, playing with other children on my street, not having to worry about trying to get a job with my crippling mental health, having plenty of friends offline and online etc. i don't think anyone necessarily wants to go back and relive those times, they just long to have those good aspects in the current day, but it's much harder as an adult, especially in today's world and economy, to have the same freedom and lack of stress/responsibilities most people did as a child. i had a rough time of it back then, especially from 10+, but i can still reminisce on the good while acknowledging things are maybe better now in some areas of my life. personally, i don't see what there is to be unsettled about in wishing life was closer to as easy/simple as it often seemed when you were a child.
I don't remember who said it, but I think they were correct when they said that people aren't nostalgic for specific things (a cartoon, a video game, what have you), they're nostalgic for the feelings evoked by those things. For example, I love the world of late 90's technology. I lament the fact that Microsoft has so severely limited customization options in modern versions of Windows, so you can no longer use classic skins. I love the look and feel and the form factors of these primitive devices. I feel a sort of calmness with them that I don't with the Windows 10 computer that I'm using to type this post right now. It's special to me, and I just really like how these devices make me feel. But you'd have to be crazy if you think I wouldn't find it a difficult adjustment to go back to an era of dial-up internet, no YouTube, extremely primitive Google, and tiny resolution monitors with limited color palettes. And that's being considerably more privileged than most people had to deal with at the time.

And that's not even going into all the things I hated about my own upbringing and childhood, which I would really hate to go through again. What I think people want isn't necessarily to return to a simpler time, but to return to that simpler time but also have the hindsight and emotional maturity of their current age to properly appreciate them and to help them navigate the things that were difficult back then. And not to be too gloomy, but I also think there's something to be said about how much harder adult life becomes when even the most tumultuous childhoods can seem simple by comparison.

I also think that as culture changes and evolves, people are unfortunately going to be left behind by it, to the point where the world around you seems to speak a completely different language. Case in point, forums like these were how I used to make connections with fandoms and series that I loved when nobody in my local area shared my hobbies. Now, the primary place to do that is through social media, which just... has made creating social connections online considerably harder when it used to be much easier. And even the rare forums like this one which are still active are vastly different both in functionality and in culture than they were in the old days.

But even the little things that really aren't that big of a deal mark an apparent division in time. Display pictures on most websites are now circular instead of rectangular, which I think looks absolutely awful, but it's a standard now. Many sites use more dynamic page loading techniques instead of a static HTML page for each section of content. And while there were obviously all different makes and models of computers, you at least understood at the end of the day that the person on the other side was using a computer, and not a cell phone or a tablet. Meaning you didn't have to accommodate for quite so many variables when designing. None of these (except the circle display pictures; I'm still bitter!) are necessarily bad changes, many of them are quite good actually. But it's a world and culture that is so vastly different and in such a relatively short period of time that it's hard to not be overwhelmed by it all. And while this is pretty much a universal constant that has always been true and will always be true, I feel like the sad thing is that people are experiencing this sensation much younger than previous generations did.

So it's not so much a desire to return to the past in the sense of wanting to turn back time and relive old experiences, but to return to a status quo when functionally, aesthetically, culturally, whatever-ly, things just made more sense. Or, perhaps they didn't make sense, but they spoke your language. You understood them conceptually, even if you didn't always like them. It's not so much that things were simpler, but that it didn't feel like the things you used to love were regurgitated to you in the form of a bad Google translation. It's why I can play a Super Nintendo game that I've never played before in my life and still have a fondness for it, a sort of familiar connection with it, that wouldn't be present in a modern game, even though I have nothing against modern games.

So I think rather than bringing you back to the past and reminding you of a simpler time (though that aspect is true for many I'm sure), I think a lot of it is that these cartoons and other nostalgic items help you to destress and return to a world where things seemed to fit in place. That doesn't mean you don't have childhood trauma or that you don't want to create new memories as well, but that for a brief instant, you're engaging with something that speaks your language and makes sense to you. It's a reprieve from a world that feels like it's constantly changing and leaving you behind, in even the most trivial and nonsensical of minor details.

Or I don't know; maybe I'm just projecting.
(I'm definitely just projecting, don't listen to anything I say.)
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I miss a lot of things from the past but at the same, I really don't want to go back. Especially not if I were to still know the things I currently do. I went through most of my life not even knowing what being autistic meant or a single thing about LGBTQ+, not even that it exists. The thought of even going back to school is a nightmare as I was bullied a lot and misunderstood by people or in some cases, completely oblivious to things going on due to not being explained things. I feel like I was treated a lot differently by my parents as well before I became an adult and I would not like to re-experience any of that...
Sure, I might wish I could go back to 2008 just to re-experience my introduction to the Nintendo DS, but that's also when I was in middle school which is definitely not something I want to do again. Probably my most hated time period when it comes to school.
I might also want to go back to 2004-2005 to re-experience my start with Neopets, but I remember very clearly that at that point none of the kids in my class liked me.
I'm one of those few who would not want to go back. It was rough for me in many unnecessary ways and I do feel the ripples of that in adult life. Adult life definitely has its heart wrenches, challenges and steeper risks and consequences, but I still find it easier than childhood.
Although there are some aspects of the nineties(my childhood time) that I like, I'd just rather not be there again. Even if I got to stay as an adult, a working woman in the 90s had their challenges too that are different than today and my illness in the 90s was denied by most doctors even though it made the list of disabilities in USA in 1991.
All I can say is that I don't care of many things in the past. Just to be clear though, most of my childhood was uneventful. My early childhood was fine. I don't remember much of it. Later part is a different story. Teenage era was terrible. Now that I am in adulthood I see the past differently. There a few things that help me remember but I have to say that "nostalgia" doesn't really work on me. Now...there are some creative IPs that have stagnated or have been ruined by corporate, such as Star Wars. I used to look on the early versions with a sense of "nostalgia" but nowadays even those feelings have vanished and replaced with apathy. If someone said they had a time machine and I could go back, I would say no. Would going back really make things better or for the worse? I am fine the way my life has turned out.
Nah, I can't relate to this. If I could go back I would because then my mom would be alive and things wouldn't be as ****** up as they are now for me. Even though I have a good job and am doing well for myself, that's not all there is to life.
I am a very nostalgic person, and always have been. But lately things have gotten better in my life and my nostalgia has let up a little. I would still go back if given the chance, because despite my hope in life having been restored, I spent many years in a stasis, not really living for the future. But it's much easier to make peace with that, that it can't be changed.

It used to be that nostalgia for the mid 2000s and before was not just the standard fare nostalgia, it was straight-up painful. It would send me into a low place. That's no longer the case, and I'm so glad. I can have happy nostalgia for those times now.
i don't think people want to escape complexity. they want to escape their post-realization of mortality and permanence. the moment you were old enough to realize that you don't exist in snapshots of time, but in a march toward entropy you cannot outrun and with people and all the colors of life that won't always look like they did in your favorite memories was the moment you chose to look back
No time period is perfect. Every era has its drawbacks and benefits. In some areas we progress, but in others we regress. The progression outweighs the regression though. Also, I like a lot of the aesthetics of the 80s and 90s, but I’m also glad we have the technology we do today. Like, I wish chunky old computers were the norm but I cant imagine not having a phone with internet lol.