Ah, the sweet scent of nostalgia. How comforting and soothing it is to shut out the frenzied craziness of the modern world and transport yourself back to a time when things were simpler, happier and involved far fewer passwords.
We recall rituals of the long-forgotten past with a mixture of fondness and regret. Fondness for the joy they brought our lives; regret that they are lost forever but for our cherished memories of them.
Walk into any office space, building foyer or post office and one instantly feels a great sinking of the heart to see nobody – absolutely nobody – lying face down, stiff-as-a-board atop a photocopier, filing cabinet or reception counter.
The exact purpose behind this timber-impersonating practice remains a mystery, yet it somehow brought us together spiritually, reminding us how we are all at one with the earth, especially the wooden bits.
And when was the last time you saw a flash mob? Remember them?
You’d be ambling through a mall, sipping coffee in a park or walking across a concourse when suddenly music would blare out from a ghetto blaster and somebody would start dancing wildly, all on their own.senio
Then there’d be two dancers. Then five. Then twenty. Before you knew what was going on, all the people you thought were random passers-by have formed into a squadron of dancers, moving in approximate sync to some classic piece of pop music.
For a few moments, the sudden spectacle would captivate the unsuspecting crowd who, without warning, have suddenly been presented with this meticulously planned musical number.
Then, just as suddenly, the music would stop and the dancers would melt back into the crowd as if nothing had happened, leaving the hapless spectators bewildered and quietly thankful that their otherwise ordinary day had, for a few precious moments, become extraordinary.
Lo, The Harlem Shake. What a meme that was and how grateful it made us for the invention of YouTube and the ease of uploading low-resolution videos.
Tears well in our eyes as we remember the drill.
First, a lone person dances to The Harlem Shake by DJ Baauer, either in an empty space or amidst others who are oblivious to their writhing.
Then, at a given key change in the song, we cut to a frame crowded with people all jiggling and gyrating, doing their own thing. Office workers, army units, study groups, sports teams, cafeteria diners, prison yards, The Harlem Shake unified everyone in a mosaic of movement that was utterly shambolic yet somehow graceful.
Alas, nobody Harlem Shakes anymore – and we are all the poorer for it. Thankfully, we still have all those low-resolution videos to help us reminisce.
How quickly these communal bonding activities come and go.
Hand on the heart, how many of us were given enough time to fully enjoy the instantaneous, adrenalin-pumping thrills of playing The Floor is Lava?
You’d be with someone doing some everyday thing, then suddenly would come the cry “The Floor Is Lava!” and you’d have, like, three seconds to get off the ground lest you be incinerated to a crispy version of your former self.
The great thing about The Floor is Lava was how passionately everyone bought into it. Once the lava declaration was yelled people would jump into or onto anything to avoid being liquified. No showroom benchtop, restaurant table, dentist chair, fence post, car roof, fire hydrant, or supermarket shelf was off-limits.
People would even sacrifice loved ones – spouses, children, grandparents – by leaping on top of them, making them pay the ultimate price. Pause a moment and consider what this behaviour reveals about human nature and the brutality of the survival instinct. “Sorry grandma. The floor is lava and you’re going down”.
It was a great leveller, especially for kids who could, by simply uttering the magic phrase, make normally responsible and mature grown-ups scramble onto shopping trolleys, display cases, playground equipment and dumpsters.
And how glorious a sight it was to see the game erupt in the serenity of a local library. Never mind your shushing, Miss Librarian, we’re trying to stay alive! You can put all these books back on the shelf later.
How fun all this silliness was, yet nobody does these things anymore. What does that tell us? Have we surrendered to the mundane?
As a society, have we lost the crazy, that marvellous spontaneity to behave with the very wildness and abject stupidity that sets us apart from all the other creatures on the food chain?
It makes you wonder what evolution was for and why, oh why, you are resisting that all-powerful urge to go to the nearest flat surface – a cafe table; a colleague’s desk; the top of a refrigerated cabinet in a convenience store; the bar at the local pub; the hood of a police car – and plank-like there’s no tomorrow.