Friday, June 15, 2012

Nik Wallenda makes history, hopefully

Television was very different when we were kids: relatively few channels meant most of us shared similar experiences when we flipped the set on. At school or the office next day, we all tended to talk about the same show. It was a collective experience that a world of 500 channels, PVRs, iTunes and Torrents has rendered obsolete.

Consumption is now relatively singular, solitary, isolated. We're just as likely to watch our individual, downloaded shows on an iPad or smartphone as we are a big screen. Water cooler conversation rarely centers around one specific show because so few of us are watching the same thing. Indeed, the water cooler itself is no longer a recognized gathering spot, and merely mentioning it around my kids draws blank stares.

So it's interesting that tonight we sit around the set watching Nik Wallenda attempt to cross Niagara Falls on a highwire. I can't help but think that this is the way it was in the early days of television. And before that, when barnstormers turned county fairs into spectacles and everyday folks could still be wowed by performers whose veins seemed to be filled with ice.

It's easy to feel nostalgic for a simpler time, and in many respects it's comforting to see history through the lens of what's playing out tonight. It's easy to wonder if, perhaps, we still retain the ability to be wowed, and if, perhaps, we retain the ability to share experiences that technology and time have rendered obsolete. Maybe they're not so obsolete after all.

Your turn: What makes you feel nostalgic?


Mike Wood said...

Driving around and finding random old bridges on dusty country roads. They literally bridge the past and the present. Not just two sides of a river. Makes me think that some things from the past, even decades old, can still exist so close by to the information highway. And perhaps can only be found by GPS and GIS aerial mapping and the like. Simpler times with steam engines and and telegraphs. (not that I am that old :)

Kalei's Best Friend said...

The fact u mentioned Nik Wallenda!. lol....Haven't heard that name in years.... What makes me nostalgic was a post I read about lamps- brought me back to my Grandpa who made lamps from scratch... Historical places, names, inventions.... that does it for me for sure.

Shane Black said...

I think the better question for myself is, what doesn't make me feel nostalgic these days... and I'm "only" 33!

Seriously though, about the only thing that stirs nostalgia for me these days is going back home to where I grew up. I can never really escape those endless summer days at Station Beach or traipsing through the ravines in Kincardine, and that's not a bad thing in my book. I had a very fortunate childhood.

Dianne - Bunny Trails said...

The smell of fresh-baked bread on a chilly Saturday while listening to Bob Dylan on the 8-track.

Going to the drive-in (not theater) for ice cream on a warm summer evening, eating a dipped ice cream cone next to the building.

The smell of fresh dill and my mom making pickles (which I don't like). I would sit in the tub and scrub cucumbers. When the pickling began, my sister and I got out of the house to escape the odor.

Unknown said...

The new Beach Boys CD arrived in my mailbox today and I've enjoyed listening to songs of summer now that the band is 50 and guys are close to 70. But it's cool, because they "still have it". I was glad to see Walenda make it but part of me wishes that the family would stop. He honored his late Grandfather. There will never be a final something to top. They have an amazing history.