What Sticks With You

Feb 08, 2014

I was born in 1984, the youngest of four. Through the miracle of arithmetic you can deduce that the 90s for me were ages 6-16.

In spite of this, it feels like the 80s are almost as prominent to me as the 90s. My theory is that I am vicariously an enthusiast for the 80s because of having two older brothers and an older sister who were completely immersed in them. The house was already full of action figures and John Williams soundtracks.

Being human means liking things. Being a kid means you tend to end up liking whatever you are exposed to. As you grow older, you must increasingly reconcile what you liked with everything else you’ve had exposure to since. This process seems profound when you’re a hormone-crazy teenager discovering “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” but it can become less thrilling when you’re pushing 30 and it’s not exactly an epiphany that He-man can no longer provide much in the way of genuine thrills, just mostly ironic entertainment.

As you take inventory of the stuff of your youth, it’s pretty easy to divide almost everything into two categories:

  1. Stuff that holds up
  2. Everything else.

For example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the cartoon tv series is irritating now. The Turtles movie is fantastic, full of jokes that are still funny.

It’s a false dichotomy, of course. But it’s a useful way to think about it.

Is my generation more nostalgic than others? Does the internet’s capacity to serve as a random access archive of pop culture make us more nostalgic or less?

What has held up from your youth? What have you left behind?