8 “Cool” Things About The Past That You Need To Stop Romanticizing

I’m pretty sure that it’s a rite of passage to romanticize a bygone era. Maybe you really got into classic rock and you daydream of how amazing it would be to see The Rolling Stones live. Or you suddenly have an affinity for Old Hollywood starlets and their timeless elegance. Or you’re watching Clueless and imagining how much less stressful life would be if you didn’t have social media and could mainly communicate via beeper. It’s impossible to check out the YouTube video of anything over 10 years old and not see some comment from a twelve year old saying “OMG I WAS BORN IN THE WRONG DECADE, THIS IS REAL MUSIC.” Trust, teens have been saying this forever and will continue to do so; watch the next generation pine for the days of “real music” like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and 5SOS while they bash the new music coming out.

We can all be really cynical about our generation and the world we live in, so it’s natural for us to look to the past as something cooler and simpler than the present. But, honestly, as cool as scenes from Grease or The Breakfast Club appear, no matter how much an analogue life without Snapchat or social media beef might sound, the past isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, a lot of things that we fetishize about the past actually…suck. Like, really really suck. Here are eight “cool” things about the past that you need to stop romanticizing. Hey, it’s one thing to fantasize about grabbing a milkshake with bae after school like some kids in the ’50s might have done, it’s another to wish you were alive in the ’50s.


Cuter Romances

People are really obsessed with old photos of straight white couples drinking milkshakes, as if that's the height of love. You can dislike a lot of elements of modern romance--sexting, ghosting, "talking" instead of actually dating--without thinking that love was so much better back in the day. Hell, for starters, ask any interracial or gay couple if they would drop everything for a chance to be all lovey dovey in the '50s. What about trans people looking for love? You can keep that milkshake.

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Elegance And Manners

When your only image of the past is in the form of black and white movies or your grandma lamenting about the old days, it's easy to get a really sanitized vision of everything...perhaps more sanitized than reality. Yes, people "dressed up" more back in the day, and maybe men were more likely to give you a seat on a crowded bus or train, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Nobody was wearing pearls every day, and even the most refined white lady might have felt at ease treating a person of color like crap without so much as a side eye. That dapper man in a hat? Yeah, probably sexually harassed his secretary and got away with it. Let's not get carried away with shiny packages, they can be really ugly underneath.

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Less 'Sluts'

It's amazing to me that people think that this generation is the most slutty generation that every slutted. First of all, every generation probably thinks that they're more promiscuous than the one before. Second of all, don't let old photos fool you, it's not like teenagers didn't have casual sex back in the day, or try to look sexy. Your mom was probably got hot and heavy in the back of a car at some point in her youth, and I'm sure your dad would have sexted his ninth grade crush if he could, too. Your ultra conservative grandma probably rocked mini skirts like it was nobody's business, and your grandma might have gone streaking. Yes, approaches to sex and bodies have changed over the generations; we're a lot more open about it. But, honestly, that's a good thing.

LIFE

Healthier Body Image

Negative body image is obviously a massive problem these days: girls as young as eight thinking they need to diet, and eating disorders have been on the radar since the late '70s and early '80s. But it's not like everybody was on some body positivity train back in the day. There were plenty of ads targeting people's insecurities about their bodies and facial features. Skin bleach ads in the United States targeted black consumers. There were plenty of ridiculous fad diets, just like there are now.

On top of that, self expression with your body was also a lot more limiting; dying your hair? Women cutting their hair short? Men wearing it long? Rocking a fro? Piercings? Showing your tummy? it's a lot easier for us to do that now and have some support than it was in the past.

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Old Technology

I have a record player and I think old telephones look dope...but does that mean that my smartphone is going to take a backseat? Hell no. There's a reason why our parents were eager to throw out their old record players when tapes, CDs, and mp3s came out: The latter were more convenient. There's a reason why none of us still use beepers: They're irrelevant. The novelty in old technology is definitely there, but what's up with people fetishizing inconvenience? I know that people think it's cute to be spontaneous and get lost somewhere cool, but I enjoy my Google Maps app, thanks.

The Brady Bunch

Less Anti-Social

Having your face in your phone isn't destroying communication, and neither did Game Boys, or television, or anything else that people used to think would destroy our generation and the way we communicate as we know it. Technology in countless ways actually make us more social and connected with others. Plus, can we stop with this idea that before everyone had cell phones, strangers communicated with each other and families bonded? It's BS. We've always found ways to keep ourselves distracted or disassociate with the outside world, that's nothing new.

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Old Cars

I love the look of plenty of old things, but practicality will always beat aesthetics. That's why I can't help but roll my eyes whenever I see people fantasizing about joy rides or cross country road trips in old, classic cars. I love the way a car from the '60s looks, too, but...as somebody who just did a cross country road trip (in a newer rental car), nothing is more horrifying than the idea of sitting in a hot car with no air conditioning, crappy gas mileage, and no way to listen to anything other than the radio. Old cars are nice to look at, but to actually take around for long distances? Without being abel to pass that aux cord? I'm going to have to say no.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Less Obnoxious Celebs/Pop Culture

The way we consume pop culture is a lot more in your face than it used to be. Naturally, that can get annoying, especially if you don't like a certain celeb or a certain artist's music, etc. But it's not like following celebrities' every move and scandal is new, and it's not like pop culture used to be better back in the day. There was good music and crap music back then, just like there is now. And when it comes to celebrities, they were just as wild and hedonistic back then as they are now, we just didn't see as much of it. A lot less has changed than you think.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

What other things about the past do people romanticize to death? Is there anything about the past that you don’t think is unfairly romanticized, it actually is better than it is today?  Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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  • Ash Rose

    One thing that is actually GOOD about the olden days: the miniskirts and ultra-tight cocktail dresses (especially the ones with a slit down the side)!!!