We don’t really know who we want to be now. Some of us want to be 18th century lumberjacks, on our way back from a day at the barber’s and haberdashery, others want to be 90s Eastern European gangsters slash extras from that decade’s many hacker and cyberpunk movies. Some of us want to return the US, to the era before the inevitable influx of Latin American workers; others want to return healthcare to the time before the invention of vaccines.
We all share the wish of not being right here, right now, moving forward. Personally, I want to return Downtown Reykjavík to the time before the tourist influx. At least, that’s what I want when I’m standing in a queue populated by tourists. We didn’t have those back then. Where there are queues now, there were empty storefronts, actually. But I still hate the modernity. Except when I receive my paycheque from this tourist-funded magazine. Then I’m willing to stop biting your feeding hand. For a couple of days.
This is true of all these nostalgic leanings of today. Pseudo-lumberjacks don’t actually want to smell like lumberjacks, mock-hackers wouldn’t switch out their shiny slim devices for 486 powered Windows 95 computer towers with 10 kg/20lbs CRT screens, American nostalgists wouldn’t want to work the jobs that the Latin Americans would vacate. And none of us are, when it comes down to it, tuberculosis enthusiasts.
But we want to fix our sights firmly on something other than modernity. The promise of modernity is fulfilled: we have the drones, and they are annoying. We have the universal communication devices to serve us Facebook, and my god, how boring Facebook is. We’ve seen the world from the comfort of our small screens, and it is awful. It’s filled with wretched different people with terrible ideas and views, and everyone has decided that now is the time to put your foot down and stop trying to be nice to these people. Modernity is mean and hateful, but at the same time bland and uninspiring.
So we all pick our era of nostalgia, because if the other people aren’t gonna look at our problems in practical terms with common ground solutions, and neither are we. So we’d rather be cowboys then. Sexy robot cowboys.