I often feel nostalgic for something I’ve never actually experienced.
Like travelling through traditional asia, without any information about where to go or what to do, surviving on very little in meagre conditions. I miss having to ask people you meet for information, where travellers would seek each other out to learn from each other. I miss being cut off from the rest of the world, not knowing what to expect from the next city.
Or later, travelling during the early ages of the internet, getting a few scraps of internet from online and going to a flickery CRT monitor in an internet cafe to get in touch with friends back home.
I miss the idea of internet cafes in general. I miss sitting in a grubby cubical surrounded by eccentric strangers and friendly staff. I miss using the outdated software, and realising that my website is broken, and hastily trying to fix it with the completely wrong set of equipment an programs.
Internet Cafes were only in our world for the briefest of times; from somewhere between the internet and computing becoming a widespread need, but before internet and computers in the home were a standard. They have since been thoroughly killed by the modern laptop, smart phone, and wireless data connections. I never used one, so why do I miss it so much?
What about the early days of Usenet (and BBS systems before them), when students on university campuses would connect up their computers to talk to each other, originating many forms of jargon, proto-web communication, and even technology concepts that still live on today.
Or just a more nebulous concept in general, like sharing a room with a few friends and a fridge filled only with beers and soft drinks, working away simultaneously collaboratively and alone on a meaningless project. All whilst having the ‘Hacker Manifesto’ displayed proudly as a poster on your wall.
I miss a time when everyone wore rollerskates to clubs and played video games whilst listening to techno. Okay, I’m not sure this one ever actually happened, but I still feel nostalgic about it sometimes.
I long to hang out at the C-Base in Berlin.
Most of these ‘nostalgia subjects’ are very rough (or slightly seedy) and usually decidedly nerdy. I’m sure that in times to come, I will reflect on the current era with a deserved sense of nostalgia, as I already do for some earlier periods of my life.