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Author Topic: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia  (Read 3532 times)

Offline pantodragon

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Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« on: 21/01/2013 15:06:40 »



It is a commonplace that many old folk, as they get older, succumb to grumpiness, and even more of them succumb to nostalgia.  These are dismissed as afflictions of old age resulting from the deterioration of the mind.

We could, however, take a much simpler and more straightforward approach to these.  We could acknowledge that older people have a lot of experience of life, that they have seen much, and that they have thus acquired a degree of wisdom.  We could then very simply say the older people get nostalgic for the very simple and straightforward reason that life WAS better when they were younger; and older people tend to get grumpy because the optimism of youth has been proved, by experience, to be false, and because there is such a very lot wrong with life today.

We would then have to wonder why older people with all their valuable experience and wisdom have been so de-valued in favour of inexperienced youth.  The simple supposition would be that those in power feel threatened by older people because they cannot pull the wool over older peoples’ eyes, cannot persuade them that life IS getting better.  The young are much more easily duped and much more easily lead. 

Those in power wish us all to believe that we have ‘never had it so good’, that the modern world bestows blessings on us that were denied our forebears, and that life may not be perfect, but it’s a great deal better that anything our ancestors knew.  In order to do this they have to twist the truth around and find a way of falsifying the experiences and feelings of older folk, so they invent ‘conditions’ of age, they patronise the older folk and make out that their minds are going and, on the other side of the coin, they elevate youth to a position it does not deserve.

This is an extremely nasty and cruel game to be playing, this undermining people, this telling them their thoughts and feeling are not authentic, this telling them they cannot trust themselves.

It is something that is much practiced by psychologists who seem to come from the point of view of discovering what people SHOULD be, and then telling them they are dysfunctional when they do not match up to this model.


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #1 on: 21/01/2013 16:35:49 »
 "We could then very simply say the older people get nostalgic for the very simple and straightforward reason that life WAS better when they were younger"
Unless the records show that it wasn't.
For example, my dad gets grumpy, for a variety of reasons.

The food was better (I doubt that- war time rationing may have made for healthy food, but it wasn't that tasty).
People mumble on TV shows these days and the background music is too loud (nothing to do with his failing hearing then?)
The weather is colder than when he was a kid (OK, he has a point, he grew up in Africa).

and so on.

"older people tend to get grumpy because the optimism of youth has been proved, by experience, to be false, and because there is such a very lot wrong with life today."
There is a lot wrong with life, but there always was.
We are now better fed, healthier, have nicer jobs, more material possessions, better opportunities to visit our friends (or, if we prefer, to stay in and watch telly).

"Those in power wish us all to believe that we have ‘never had it so good’, that the modern world bestows blessings on us that were denied our forebears, and that life may not be perfect, but it’s a great deal better that anything our ancestors knew.  In order to do this they have to twist the truth around "
No, they just point out truths like, we now have penicillin so you no longer need to worry about blood poisoning from every scratch and graze.

Seriously, what can you truly say was better 60 years ago?
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #2 on: 21/01/2013 19:46:25 »
I don't know about grumpiness, but perhaps nostalgia is hereditary. 

We have only had a good written language for the last few thousand years, and general availability of books for the last few hundred years.  Prior to that, writing would have been crude pictographs. 

Historically, all of the knowledge of a family or tribe had to be passed orally from one generation to the next.
 

Offline graham.d

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #3 on: 21/01/2013 20:31:42 »
I expect there is some degree of viewing the past through rose tinted spectacles. I have a crude question to test whether one feels there has been progress: would you prefer to live in the world today or at some time (of your choosing) in the past with some equivalent social status? I suspect when all things are considered and trade offs made, most people would prefer the world they live in today, with all its faults. I tend to think progress is 10 steps forwards and 9 back but at least there is a net forward move.

I suspect grumpiness is due to issues less profound and down to things like frustration regarding deteriating faculties of all kinds - vision, hearing, memory, hair colour (plus quantity and distribution), attractiveness to the opposite sex (and the ability to do anything about it even if this was not a problem) :-)
 

Offline bizerl

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #4 on: 24/01/2013 05:40:02 »
What about the idea that because life is better now, people have more time to reflect on their past? I'm sure that a lot of the things that people get nostalgic about, were things that at the time, they had no time to enjoy because they were too busy and too occupied with work and family etc. Now that life is generally easier to live, we have more time to complain about it!

Also, I think it is an unfair generalisation to say that "It is a commonplace that many old folk, as they get older, succumb to grumpiness". In my job I work with a mainly elderly client base and find no trend in terms of grumpiness. Just as many complain about having nothing to watch on TV nowadays as those who praise the advancements of Skype to speak to their grandkids on the other side of the world.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #5 on: 24/01/2013 15:15:10 »
Bored chemist: We are now better fed, healthier, have nicer jobs, more material possessions, better opportunities to visit our friends (or, if we prefer, to stay in and watch telly).

Which government/science propaganda leaflet have you been reading then?!!!  What was better in the past?  Where do I start?  Well, one big one - FREEDOM.  We had precious little of it then, we have even less now.  And this: in my local library there is a notice in the history section comparing Victorian times to0 the present day.  One item is: the poor in Victorian times sometimes had only bread to live on.  This fails to take account of how different bread was then from now.  Bread then was a high quality food, a real food.  I've been to Turkey 3 times over roughly several decades.  The first time, pre-tourism, the food was fantastic.  Like nothing I'd ever tasted.  The second time, about a decade later, the food was not so good.  I supposed I was just remembering things better than they really had been -  a sort of nostalgia for old times.  The third time I went, the food was even worse and I supposed the same thing.  But then I went into the hinterland, down dirt tracks to places that were still purely peasant Turkish and I found a little cafe with 2 tables outside selling a little food.  I ordered some food and lo and behold, it was absolutely delicious, just like I remembered it from my first visit to Turkey.  Obviously the food in Turkey as the country developed was becoming as bland and poor quality as in the rest of the developed world, but where one could find the old Turkey, one could still find the old, better quality food.  But I rather suspect you would look for good food in vain in Turkey today.

This is just an example but my whole experience has taught me to trust myself and has taught me that life really was better in the past.  As I said, where to begin - in other words, I can hardly think of a way in which life was not better in the past - and you have to have experienced life without tv to know just what you have lost.
« Last Edit: 24/01/2013 15:20:30 by pantodragon »
 

Offline menageriemanor

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #6 on: 15/02/2013 13:01:09 »
I  read that if you were a grumpy young adult, you'd be a grumpy old person.

What was better? Say 40 years ago? Less crowded cities, the ability to buy a house with a decent sized backyard, the far less distance to reach undeveloped green space, for the average person to be able to live in a more picturesque, larger spaced house.  We locked the front door when we went out, but always left the back door unlocked, or the window open, so we could reach in and open it.  Acreage was very affordable, close to the city.  Fresh food was comparitively very cheap,
 I THINK doctors and hospital stays were free, under universal health care.   No average person had heard of Global Warming, everyone seemed more optimistic, it was presumed life would continue pretty well unchanged, and as comfortable.  Music was far better, with some brilliant exceptions. I had no second thoughts about walking at night.  No one rang you at home and tried to sell you stuff - even if you had a home phone, and you had no idea WHO was phoning, so you couldn't avoid people.  Food was probably more local and unprocessed but the range of choice was FAR smaller. Oh and if you bought fish and chips, you got a MOUNTAIN of chips and a Huge piece of fish.  I think Pizza was a newish and exotic food.

What was worse?  I think there were 3 channels on tv. Nothing on after about midnight.  I THINK the Black and White Minstrels STILL qualified as Primetime tv viewing. Doctors couldn't save a lot of people or pets, they can, now. I think you could go to bleary ordinary food restaurants, German, French, Chinese.  No Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese.  Woman were patronised a lot more, work could be patronising, and you had to wear it, and you often got less pay for the same job. No easy access to internet info.  No near free access to friends overseas, with email. Only letters or expensive poor quality phone calls.  My elderly mother wouldn't have a phone, normally fixed to the most inconvenient wall in the house, where you had to stay, with everyone listening in, so I would walk to the shops to phone.  Often vegies were boiled to grey before serving.  Spaghetti came out of a tin, with tom sauce.  Vietnam war finishing up?  People were still being sold asbestos fibro for backyard projects, altho the companies were aware of dangers and tragedies to come. We had a black and white tv.

As to food being better in Victorian times...  I believe there was no control of quality/labelling/claims.  Many unscrupulous bakers put sawdust, quite a lot of dodgy stuff, to undercut opposition with cheaper loaves for the poor.  Quite a few toxic things were put in sweets for children, to get prettier colours.

With childhood food loves, no one likes the modern versions, but even if exactly as they were, our taste buds, I read, deteriorate/lessen in number, as we age?  so we can't ever get that same joy, even if an obsessive foodie sources organic, heritage ingredients, and uses a wood burning stove and recreates perfection.
 

Offline Minerva

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #7 on: 15/02/2013 19:12:41 »
Life is what you make it....whatever age you are.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #8 on: 17/02/2013 15:22:33 »
"One item is: the poor in Victorian times sometimes had only bread to live on.  This fails to take account of how different bread was then from now.  Bread then was a high quality food, a real food. "

Meanwile, in the real world.
http://www.victorianweb.org/science/health/health1.html

" I supposed I was just remembering things better than they really had been -  a sort of nostalgia for old times.  The third time I went, the food was even worse and I supposed the same thing.  But then I went into the hinterland, down dirt tracks to places that were still purely peasant Turkish and I found a little cafe with 2 tables outside selling a little food.  I ordered some food and lo and behold, it was absolutely delicious, just like I remembered it from my first visit to Turkey.  Obviously the food in Turkey as the country developed was becoming as bland and poor quality as in the rest of the developed world"
Obviously, they learned to rip off the tourists.
 

Offline menageriemanor

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #9 on: 18/02/2013 11:48:42 »
Thanks for that article, bored chemist.  You shame me.  I was content to half remember old info.  Yours was fact, tho it didn't list the stuff they put in to colour children's lollies, which I know shocked me, but now I only remember the shock, not the facts.
 

Offline Minerva

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #10 on: 18/02/2013 13:17:39 »
I don't think you should be shamed-there are good and bad points to every era in history and of course what was good or bad depended largely on who you were.  I have to admit to being thankful every day for being born in this century, in the UK to the parents I have because I haven't seen anything about any decades or centuries prior to the 60's that look enjoyable for the majority.  Life looked, for the majority at least, hard and brutal and painful and short....not for me thanks......  :(
 

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Re: Grumpy Old Folk and Nostalgia
« Reply #10 on: 18/02/2013 13:17:39 »

 

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