The period between 12 and 22, in other words, is the time when you become you. It makes sense, then, that the memories that contribute to this process become uncommonly important throughout the rest of your life. They didn’t just contribute to the development of your self-image; they became part of your self-image—an integral part of your sense of self.
Surely I haven’t been the only that has come across some memes that mock one’s insistence of only listening to music they used to listen to when they were teenagers?
I have and annoyingly enough, I can relate to them. This is also backed up by some articles that show that I am not the only one. I can almost bet that The Rasmus’s members can pay bills out of me spinning their “Dead Letters” album on Spotify.
It is quite amusing how today, if I am working on something and I need to be focused, I will only listen to the songs that I used to listen to when I was young. All because my brain automatically brings me warm feelings of safety while writing code.
I haven’t been able to brush off the thought that this doesn’t only apply to music. In my case, I think it also applies to certain pieces of clothes that remind me of my tragically unfashionable half emo days, colours and ultimately the Web.
Today’s web development has become the motive of arguments on Twitter with whispers of “back in my day”. I read love letters to the old Web and I also read hints telling “us” to move on.
In the past I’ve spent some time reminiscing about the old Web. However, I couldn’t exactly and gracefully put my nostalgia into words. But it was very similar to listening to the same music album over and over again.
I can argue about how there are concerning things about today’s web development and the centralization of the web but other than that, everything else has been labeled as pure nostalgia. And I wanted to better understand my nostalgia.
My teenage years weren’t amazing but it wasn’t all bad. And whenever I think about them I think about a couple of things only: discovering music and building fan sites. During these years I developed one of my core personality traits: I build websites. It was my only hobby. I would spend hours learning and experimenting without judgement.
My nostalgia comes from the need to feel safe and experiment. I don’t miss not having rounded borders in CSS. The old way of building for the Web wasn’t better. But in reality what happened was that I had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted, I didn’t have to pay bills, the quality of what I built wouldn’t jeopardise my non existing reputation, I wasn’t judged, I didn’t have deadlines and I had no one to impress but myself.
Maybe, just maybe, it is completely unreasonable to expect people who just joined the developer community to relate to this nostalgia. This is assuming that I’m talking about people who are new to programming (so, didn’t start it as a hobby).
My, so called, developer experience, from over 10 years ago will never ever be the same as someone who just started. And it is absolutely fine that they don’t relate to it, as this isn’t a competition or right or wrong answer. It is just different.
My nostalgia kicks in when I feel inadequate and behind my peers. On the other hand, I also know that I produce good work when I feel safe, rested and respected.
Weirdly, this made me look at my past blog posts a little bit differently and I tried to think about what exactly do I miss about the old web: I suppose that I miss building things for the web without capitalism?
But I can’t just end this ramble there: I would be a hypocrite since I’ve been exchanging code for a salary since 2012.
If building for the Web is one of my core personality traits, when I feel insecure doing it (for example, when I fail a job interview or when I haven’t learned something new immediately) it is almost like my whole self is worthless.
This also sounds like it is the curse of “doing what you love so that you’ll never work a day”.
Aside, as mentioned before, my concerns about today’s web development and the centralization of the web, my nostalgia is my responsibility to deal with. This made me feel slightly uneasy and selfish but it also made me understand much better the last three paragraphs of the article "Letting Go of the Old Web".
Despite this being a strange brain dump, I think I found something useful about this: my feelings are consequences of my core values. If I identify and define these core values, I will always try to find where I can live by them.