Many of us come from humble beginnings. We make something of ourselves with hard work and a bit of luck and have every right to be proud of our success. But it's important to remember where we came from. It keeps us down to earth and doesn't let us take anything for granted.
A recent trend online is dedicated to just that. It has people making "How It Started vs. How It's Going" posts, sharing photos before and after they succeeded. Some are revealing their own roots, some are showing where their role models began their journeys, but all of these posts are 100% wholesome and inspiring.
It's easy to feel like crap in 2020. The deadly pandemic, police brutality, civil rights protests, conspiracy theories, political crises... In most parts of the world — especially, the United States — it seems as though every 10 minutes yields another dire post on Reddit or Instagram.
Scary news puts our brains on high alert. As Rebecca Renner wrote in a wonderful piece for National Geographic, it was an advantage to our early ancestors, guarding them from predators and natural disasters, but now it leaves us “doomscrolling” through endless social media feeds to stay abreast of the latest threats.
Our hearts race, and our minds keep looking for the next big catastrophe. We want to feel prepared, so we become addicted to the updates, coming back for more until the world seems far worse than before.
In Western culture, people usually tend to interpret present events negatively and often prefer the past, according to the research of Carey Morewedge, a professor of marketing at Boston University. That is because our autobiographical memories are highly programmed toward positivity -- when we think about the past, we mostly remember positive experiences. This is called "rosy retrospection," or "nostalgia bias."
Even historians fall victim to this trap as well. It might lead to glittering terms like the "Gilded Age," says Erika Harlitz-Kern, a historian at Florida International University in Miami. In American history, for example, the Gilded Age refers to the period between 1870 and 1900, when the Industrial Revolution resulted in huge advancements in technology, culture, and the arts.
"But this time period was also a time of social inequality, great poverty, and the continued genocide and displacement of Native Americans," Harlitz-Kern pointed out. Nonetheless, the term Gilded Age refers to the period in an obviously positive light.
It looks like we will always be facing one issue or another. Or a few really big ones at once. So we really need to learn how to deal with them and not let them crush us. To quote Ernest Hemingway, "Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated."
If making posts online in honor of even the slightest achievements gets us closer to persevering, let's do it.