The Pandemic Appeal of Cringe-worthy Items

Let me take you on a little journey with me: It’s 2016, your prime years of middle school. An overpriced Hamilton t-shirt announces your status to the others, the Rick and Morty print on your lanyard smiles back at you, and Panic! at the Disco blares too loud through your iPhone 6. Life is… bad. Just awful.
Listen, I’m woman enough to admit, 7th grade wasn’t my shining moment. But after six months of quarantine, that old Twenty One Pilots album is starting to look pretty appealing. In fact, most things 7th grade me loved and 9th grade me couldn’t bear to look at have become strangely comforting in these times. And apparently, others feel the same.
With seemingly no stable ground to stand on, teenagers are reaching for the familiar. However, our “familiar” is all too often the worst years of our documented lives. Unless you were one of approximately five people who really loved middle school, you might find yourself coming back to the things you thought you’d buried deep down long ago. But hey, there’s no shame in wanting to revisit what got us through those rough years, right?
Wrong. There’s shame. So much shame. See, I took a trip down memory lane not too long ago and you know where I ended up? The Once-ler. That’s right. The children’s book villain with a flashy green coat, a penchant for electric guitar, and a Tumblr fanbase of thousands of tween girls in love with an environmentalist’s nightmare. That’s when I knew: I had gone too far.
In an effort to feel something, anything, I returned where no person should ever even have been. Like a child who realized half-way through the car ride that the route to Disney World looked suspiciously like the road to the dentist, I had no choice but to accept my fate.
Collectively, we’re regressing. Hamilton is on Disney+, manga sales are up, and yesterday I was this close to watching Dan and Phil again. This has to stop. What began as a way to comfort ourselves through these terrible times has resulted in what I predict to be a complete cultural collapse. And I am simply not mentally equipped to go back to school and see girls in cat ears again.
Luckily, after careful analysis, I think I’ve found a solution. Hear me out: we regress further. We’re thinking small, people. We’re going back, what, four years? Weak. I’ll be reliving 2008 from now on. I’ll be exclusively watching Strawberry Shortcake, drinking apple juice from a sippy cup, and wearing tacky shirts that say things like “Little Trouble.” Life will be simple. Beautiful. So, fellow teens, I urge you: join me in my quest for simplicity. It’s the only way to save ourselves.