Friday, February 03, 2012

Postcards from 2011

I find myself thinking wistfully of that place in time, say, not three years ago, when teenage bedrooms again sprouted daisy stickers and when Grunge ruled the catwalks. On another level, I think of when the imperative to become "wired" hadn't yet so much filled the world's workforce with dark dreams of low-tech paranoia and security-free obsolescence. It's been a busy half-decade.
--Douglas Coupland, Polaroids from the Dead, 1996
These words -- or at least the ideas they contain  --  have stuck with me for more than fifteen years. Coupland's first and most well-known work, Generation X, is subtitled Tales for an Accelerated Culture, so it makes sense that he would be among the first to notice that life had sped up to the point that a person in 1996 could experience nostalgia for 1993. I remember reading it and thinking, "Wow, he's right."

Now, in 2012, I get an e-mail every day from a service called Timehop. It was originally called "Foursquare and 7 Years Ago" and would tell me what places I had checked into a year previously. Now, it includes updates from Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook.

Given the service's previous name, I had hoped that when my Foursquare account turned two, I would start to get updates going back more than one year. Alas, that's not the case. Today, for example, I found out that last year I took a picture of the boys in their Star Trek onesies and picked up dinner from Noodles & Company. I was not, however, informed that on February 3, 2010, I was at Safeway stocking up before another massive snowstorm, nor that I picked up dinner at Boston Market due to our ongoing kitchen renovation.

I did not learn that 3 years ago today, the odometer on my CR-V hit 100,000 miles. Nobody told me that in 2008 I ordered two calzones from Rastie's. I had to dig through my e-mail to learn that five years ago today, I posted a session report from a game of "Up Front". And it saddens me to report that I have absolutely no idea what I was up to on February 3, 2006. Oh, wait. I posted something about how my go rating had just reached 23 kyu. (It's at 14 kyu now.)  Also, Christina and I appear to have been in California.

But, still!  What about 2005? I was staying at the Doubletree in Del Mar, so there's that. 2004? I had an appointment with my allergist, who said I could stay with one allergy shot per month. (I'm now back at one every three weeks.) In 2003, Christina e-mailed me to ask what I wanted for dinner. I requested chicken tacos, but I don't know if we actually had them. OK, once I get to 2002, I have no immediately available information about that day. (On February 3, 1992, I was up at 6 am from the night before because I was playing the Civilization computer game, and I still had a homework problem to finish. And the previous evening's dinner to eat.)

My point (if I still have one), is that while I enjoy reveling in the past (and would love to have a record of February 3, 1982), that's not the way the world works these days. The three-year nostalgia Coupland identified in 1996 has become quaint. (Remember when we had three-year-nostalgia? That was awesome.) Now, a year ago constitutes the good old days, and beyond that -- it's best not to think about.

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