Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Found Discourse on Lost Melbourne

Comment script for Lost Melbourne 
<image of old building/infrastructure, now demolished> 
Commentor 1: i remember this. i used to work a few doors up and walk past it every day. it was so nice. now it's been replaced by that new monstrosity [apartments/office building/some sign of modernity]
Commentor 2: why did we demolish this? were the only city in the world that takes a step backwards by demolishing important infrastructure.
Commentor 3: it was rubbish. It should have been demolished years ago. nobody actually used it and when they did it was smelly and uncomfortable.
Commentor 1: this is called the lost melbourne group for a reason. if you don't like it go elsewhere.
Lost Melbourne is one of those social media success stories. The page's administrators, doing little more than posting up old images of Melbourne have garnered over 40,000 likes and an active community of fans and contributors. It's even been featured in mainstream media.

It is a nostalgia trip for many and an interesting reminder of what was. But this is also its limitation. The basic extent of most comments on photographs is "This Melbourne is much better than today's Melbourne" or, "How could they tear down X and replace it with this monstrosity?". 

Contrary opinions are given short shrift by the prevailing nostalgites.

In the aforementioned mainstream media article, a logical but non-sympathetic view of the Southern Cross Hotel was regarded as "not...positive": 
All these people crying in their beers because old buildings got torn down. Yes, you are all right, they are part of our history and it's a shame to see them go. But how can we move forward if we don't make room by getting rid of some our past?
 A valid point is then railroaded by other fans claiming Lost Melbourne is just for old pictures and if "you" don't like it, go elsewhere.

There's a lot to like about Lost Melbourne, but the unbridled nostalgia of its commentors is not one of them. Proper heritage requires balancing the needs for a future Melbourne against that which may be "lost", not uncritical "things were better in the old days" patter.

Proper historical appraisal requires context and research, much more than a "Photo credit: State Library of Victoria" could ever provide.

Still, the page admins should be pleased that they are shining a bit of light into our own history. But a little nostalgia can be a dangerous thing...

1 comment:

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