Why moving forward is impossible when we’re always looking back

When the text came through, I was sure there had been some kind of error, as if I'd drifted off in the back seat of a Delorean and woken up in the late 1990s.

"Hey man, did you want to come to the SO POP concert next week? It's Vengaboys, Blue, Eiffel 65 and AQUA.  Let me know!"

A quick Google revealed this was the Ultimate Throwback tour featuring a bunch of bands whose best years are behind them. I let my pal down gently.

"The Vengabus is coming, but I'm more than happy to miss it. Have fun!"

Flashback's the new comeback

Ultimate throwback tour aside, we're living in an age where everything old is new again. Nostalgia is big business and business is booming. This year you can unironically wear FILA to a Spice Girls concert, catch an afternoon screening of The Lion King and spend your evening watching any number of rebooted TV shows, including Will & Grace, Roseanne or Murphy Brown.

Every industry has cottoned on to the richness of the rewind effect, and it's now a race to the past.

According to the wise team at the Meriam Webster dictionary, the definition of nostalgia is:

a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for a return to or of some past period.

The glory days

Excessively sentimental pretty much sums it up. We've become excessively sentimental for our golden eras before the glow has had a chance to fade. Now we're desperately grasping at any opportunity to relive them.


I put it down to the fact that we're in the weird not-too-old-but-definitely-not-young-anymore transition period. When you're twenty-two, no one is pining for five years ago, but fast forward ten years and things look different. At this stage of life, our worries are more complex, heavier, all-consuming.

Am I fulfilled in life, in love? Can I work this career until I retire? Do I exercise enough, eat properly, surround myself with the right people? Has that mole changed slightly?

They pile up around you; much like that stack of unread books next to your bedside table (a direct result of another worry - should I be reading more?) until they feel suffocating.

To escape, we search for a shortcut back to the days when nothing mattered, so you buy a ticket to the Vengaboys.   

Love, Simon

I can pinpoint my #NoToNostalgia campaign (PS: let's make that hashtag kick-off) down to one person, Simon. I went through school with Simon and, during that time, he was one half of an intense high school couple. As was the case with most couples in the early 2000s, their entire relationship played out to The Killer's track, Mr Brightside.

After graduating, it quickly became clear that outside the hormonal confines of high school, they weren't suited. Endless problems, constant fights and increasingly different interests resulted in a drawn-out breakup.

Last year The Killers toured, and it turns out there's no aphrodisiac like nostalgia. Simon bumps into his ex at the concert, the soundtrack to their teenage romance plays and we're on again.

It started out with a kiss...indeed.

Find a new road

They promptly rebooted their relationship, and for a while the familiar was fun. But once the novelty wore off, all that was left were the same problems that had proved too much in the past. Not even The Killers can save you now.

And so, while it has been fun to ride the nostalgia wave, I'm opting to find new joy in what's to come – no more Throwback Thursdays or Flashback Fridays.

There is plenty of time to be excessively sentimental when I'm old, frail and no longer on solids. But now it seems premature, an easy escape that creates a pattern of looking back, when we should be looking forward.

I can see the Vengabus coming, everyone is jumping, but I, for one, am letting it pass me by.

After continually being told to "use his words" as a young boy, Thomas Mitchell took that advice on board and never looked back. Since then his words appeared all over the place, including in the Sydney Morning Herald, Time Out, The Huffington Post and GQ. Thomas spends his days observing the unique behaviour of the Australian male, while trying not to overstay his welcome at the local cafe.

Follow Thomas on Twitter.

Have you been caught up in the throwback craze? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.