Blogging as nostalgia

Why do my online posts often look to the past?

A post for #WeblogPoMo2024.

I’m participating in this write-moreorless-every-day-in-May blogging challenge by writing about an old Tumblr account. I set up my stall to look backwards.

My very first post on bensinterests, back in January 2010, was what I thought was the best photo I’d taken until that point:

A photograph. In the background is a half-destroyed block of flats. In the foreground is a security fence, and to the left in front of that is a boy on a bike looking downwards

Unusually I also included a caption:

Kelvindale area of Glasgow, late 2005

I used to live in part of Glasgow that had seen little-to-no major renovation since the sixties. With the city going through extensive regeneration, some abandoned buildings in the West End suburbs started to get pulled down for new flats and suites to be built on the same site.

One warm November day some old halls of residence just round the corner from me started to be knocked down. Few people stopped to look.

Even then I was looking five years' previously to an old photo. And I decided to caption that photo with a comment about aging and loss - a place being torn down, a vague concern about a lack of awareness of a history disappearing.

This is contrary to one of my core beliefs. I am steadfast in thinking that the world was not better at some point in the past. I don’t consider myself a rose-tinted nostalgic who longs for vicars riding their bicycles over village greens or thinks that computers are the work of the devil. I’m a big advocate of Hans Rosling’s popularisation of statistical anaysis showing that generally things have been getting significantly better for almost all people over the past fifty years.

As I realise that I appear to use blogging as a form of mental health, I notice too that it’s reflective. By nature that means looking backwards, reflecting rather than reporting. That’s contrary to the idea of a linklog that I want to chase which is more interested in up-to-the-moment quick links to new discoveries.

One of my challenges as I write this series of blogs is to think about what I want my online presence to be. Do I want a formal blog, an online diary-of-sorts, when I already have an offline journal? Do I want a passive linklog? Do I want both and, if so, should they be separate?