When considering a prompt of “something you miss” I was flooded with lots of options. In many cases, the things that came to mind were practically impossible to illustrate. For example, in many ways, I miss the bits of the 20th century I lived through, but I stopped to consider exactly why that might be the case. Though there are many reasons, the one the jumped to mind first was that I really loved a time when everyone was watching the same shows on television. This might seem an odd thing to wax nostalgic on, but those days came with something that’s missing today. A feeling of commonality that even gave complete strangers something to talk about the next day. So, of course, I had to google the most watched television shows of all time and, not surprisingly, all of the shows on the list were from the 20th century. In this century, we can watch whatever we like whenever we choose to, which on the surface seems like a wonderful thing. But instead of asking someone what they thought of Seinfeld last night we ask, “what are you watching now?” And when you mention the show you’re currently watching you often get a reply of “Oh, yeah, that’s sounds cool. I haven’t started it yet.” So, conversations dip back into chit chat and talking about totally meaninglessly things like the weather instead. I miss the days when we all had something in common.
It’s far from surprising that even the youngest among us flock to various things from the previous century. Those cool record players and VHS tapes are so wonderfully tangible. And in so many ways, I’m quite happy with the counter culture of making physical things from scratch that keeps coming back again and again. While the digital world affords possibilities that didn’t exist in the last century, it creates an odd dynamic. One where we our connection comes from the method we use to connect and not the stories that are told there. Facebook? That’s so dead now… it’s my parents thing. I’m on Snapchat! Do you still use Instagram? I just look at the stories and hop off now. Kinda cool, but if you want to know what’s happening right now you better check out Twitter. And yet, many of us who tried social media at the very beginning can still wax nostalgic about it as well. It was such a wonderful thing to connect to family and friends and make new friends across the globe! Then the algorithms changed so nobody sees the things we post now to make room for ads and celebrities. The same celebrities who used to reach us by default when they appeared on a television show everyone was watching.
Social media itself has become the new television. The place where we can at least talk about whatever is trending at the moment in hopes the other person might actually know what we’re talking about. One of the original people who had a hand in creating Instagram, Bailey Richardson, left the company and said, “it feels like we’re all addicted to a drug that doesn’t get us high anymore.” Though this all sounds like a bit of a downer, I have to believe it simply means there’s a wonderful turnaround coming next. It makes my heart so happy to see the younger generations embracing bits of the past and finding them cool again. We’ve always done that as a culture throughout history, but this is the first time in history where reaching backward comes with the choice of something tangible vs. purely digital. I love all things digital, even as I geeked out as a kid on my Commodore 64, but I sometimes miss the bulky cartridges that reminded me I was actually going into a different world. Yet happily, today at least, it’s often hard to feel like an “old person” once you’ve embraced technology. And no matter what you’re into you can now always find your tribe online somewhere. But, I guess I truly liked it better when we were all part of the same tribe, back when we all watched the same TV shows.
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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio! Click Here To Purchase It!). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!