Nostalgia – Good or Bad?

Last month, I went to my native place. It’s a beautiful village where I used to spend my complete summer holidays. While walking down the road, I saw some boys playing cricket. For some time, I stopped there and started watching the game. That sight took me to memory lane of my childhood. I used to play cricket all the time. Nostalgia filled my heart. But I realised that now-a-days, I rarely get to hold bat in my hands. That nostalgia about cricket made my stay at my native place happy.

Just for fun, I googled the word ‘nostalgia’ and to my surprise, I found that the word was originally coined to describe a disorder characterized by anxieties among soldiers fighting away from home. It certainly made that word sound ‘bad’ while I always felt ‘good’ being nostalgic. Because of its surprising origin, I decided to do little research about the word ‘nostalgia’ to check whether it is good one or bad.

Nostalgia is a word which had developed over the period of time. Initially, it was observed among Swiss mercenaries by a medical student in 17th century but eventually it is perceived as pleasurous feeling of the past. It is well accepted now that nostalgia improves mood and creates feeling of social connectedness. It gives momentary pleasure to a person remembering something from the past. This is reflective type of nostalgia while in restoring type of nostalgia, one tries to recreate the past experiences. Basically, I tried to do the same and went out to play cricket match last weekend. Even though I played enthusiastically, I realized that my game has affected a lot. I am not able run as fast as I used to be. I didn’t able to judge ball that well while batting. It makes me sad that I am not as good cricketer as I used to be. Restoration part was disappointing. Such restorative nostalgia usually makes people feel bad. It makes people to accept the truth about present and crave for ‘good old days’.

American diplomat George Ball once made a strong statement about nostalgia. – “Nostalgia is a seductive liar”. In analysing his statement, we can take help of psychological research. In one of psychological experiements, it is found that when people were asked to write a short essay about nostalgic moments, they end out writing about very ordinary things happened in the past. Mostly, people view ordinary things of past in very glorified way. Fashion industry sees comeback of various retro designs because of people’s nostalgia. Also various antiques attract huge bids during auctions because of nostalgia. Nostalagia has also found a place in marketing field where various products are marketed on the basis of their nostalgic appeal. In one way, nostalgia influences human psyche and corporations making use of it on extensive scale.

This influential effect of nostalgia is even being used by social elements for their own benefit. Just take a case of last US presidential election. Everyone was shocked as Donald Trump became new President of USA. The slogan Trump used in election is – ‘Make America Great Again!’ This slogan reminds people of ‘Good old days’ and made people nostalgic. It certainly worked in favour of Trump. Even after doing many blunders, he managed to pulled an unimaginable win. This kind of impact Nostalgia can have on people.

Nostalgia is much more influential feeling than it looks. We have to accept that nostalgia has good as well as bad effect on us. We have to be careful by not letting anyone trick us into something by taking advantage of nostalgia and then it will forever remain a good thing.

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