The internet is a vasty, complex, collective nostalgia space. Huge databases (imdb) and sharing sites (YouTube) allow us to rediscover all those things we loved, loathed and liked Back In The Day: Dragon, SuperTed, the theme song from the Tomorrow People, The Take Aways, Tab!
We can also keep up to date with those things, people, products we obsess over, in a way fans never could before. Imagine retweeting Charles Dickens on issues of social exclusion and asylum seekers. Imagine what Plato’s Athenian blog would read like. The net takes us places, but imagination takes us further.
I guess what I mean to say is I know more now about the things I remembered I liked, than when I liked them. We all do. Thanks to the interweb, no half-rememberd childhood favourite need go unchecked. This is not a neutral thing. It’s framed by all sorts of cultural, lingual, societal and technological implications I’m too tired to research. But I could, cos I’ve got access to the net.
As a writer, nostalgia is a particularly powerful tool in evoking reader response. With the internet an accomplice no more do writers, like ancient map makers, need to leave a blank space on their work, with Here Be Dragons, if they don’t know something. So, if I write about the 1980s and don’t know Fanta only came in orange back then, then the illusion is breached. But Wikipedia shouldn’t replace creativity. And everyone is allowed in non-fiction, to be wrong.
Sometimes accuracy should be sacrificed to narrative felicity. Writing, like much of life, is about feeling. Indulge the feeling and fact-check later. And if the net is a memory machine, it’s like the human brain, an unreliable witness. So I say, indulge your nostalgia. Interrogate your sources. Be faithful to the text.
Stuff I rediscovered my love for:
- Ulysses 31
- Jesus and Mary Chain
- The Bluetones
- David Jason’s amazing voice over work
- Ursula K LeGuin, Alan Garner, Robert Silverberg
- Sunny Boys
- Buffalo Bill
- Parker Lewis Can’t Lose
- Educating Marmalade
- the long career of Bernard Cribbins
What have you rediscovered your love for?