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Treasure of Archived Memories #throwbackthursday

'Throwback Thursday' is a term we all are familiar with. Something that no more falls on a Thursday, rather every day of the week has become a version of throwback Thursday.

It is claimed that the term 'Throwback Thursday' was introduced in 2006 by Matt Halfhill, in a blog about sneakers. Through the course of time as twitter and Instagram came into being with its ultimate feature of hashtags, the use of #throwbackthursday and #tbt shot through the roof, associated with posting old pictures. The very first TBT Instagram picture can be traced back to 2011 posted by Bobby Sanders, a picture of his collection of Hot Wheels Cars. Since then there’s no looking back. Everyone out there has been sharing old photographs be it of a vacation a few months or years ago, or a childhood picture of oneself with a TBT. Somehow it has become instinctive to post a throwback picture every once in a while, even if it’s an event that took place 10 days ago we post it with TBT

For years we have found solace surfing through old photographs, in a way trying to live those moments again. We 90's kids are lucky to have photographs from a good part of our childhood in big and small photo albums instead of hundreds of pictures saved in phones and other devices. Those albums carried with itself something similar to what our social media ‘memories’ feature is doing. Every few weeks or months a notification pops up on our phones with memories from years ago reminding us of the times we desire to live again.

It’s June already, this is usually the time of exotic vacation with family and friends, solo tripping across the globe, eating a variety of cuisines, making friends, exploring. This year due to an unfortunate turn of events we are forced to stay indoors within four walls of our houses and the only way we can possibly explore new places is by changing our desktop wallpapers.

No matter if the world goes on a standstill, our social media accounts won’t fail to remind us of that trekking trip last year, or that exclusive trip to Europe where you were sipping wine admiring the beauty Eiffel Tower is from a french window and here we are sitting on our couch with canceled tickets and plans, in pajamas staring at these pictures and hitting share. We no longer wait for Thursdays to share them, every day has become a version of throwback Thursday in itself. It’s not that only this year the memories are popping up, it does every year, the difference is that usually, we are on another trip making memories, we don’t let old memories come in the way, we get selective about what gets attention and gets shared. Right now we have nothing better to do, so the act of sharing and resharing has exponentially increased.

Our social media platforms have become more personal and intimate compared to being planned and curated as they were before. There are no more fancy aesthetic photographs to share making every minute of every day seem perfect to the audience. During the start of the quarantine period, people shared pictures of their WFH desks, balconies, window skies, video conferencing screenshots; as we are going deeper into the situation those mundane things have become more mundane. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as soon as people on the internet got bored our archives fed us content from months back, which we are feeding right back with #tbt.

What is it about these throwback photographs that make us feel better?

As observed, looking at photographs invokes a variety of emotions in us, of excitement, happiness, sweet nostalgia. It makes us want to go back and live the moment again, more so now when all we are trying is to cope up with the reality that won’t give the freedom of traveling with a carefree attitude. We have in a way etched the fact onto our brains that nothing is going to be the same as it was 3 months back, we are in a transition period before entering a new world, where these old pictures are life support to the crippling reality. More than validation these throwback posts are acting as a coping mechanism, admit it or not. They are strings tied to a hopeful future we wish to witness.

Looking back at those happy times not only reminds us of that exact moment the photograph was taken, at the same time we dive into the nostalgia river recalling every other moment that wasn’t captured.

There are a few friends who rarely post or share any photographs of their personal lives on social media, whereas recently even they have joined the bandwagon of sharing and resharing. When asked about it they said that they felt a sense of positivity and interim happiness, for some it was a way of communicating and sharing, for some it was self-care, for some it was a reason to smile and for a few, it was purely lack of new content.

If not resharing from the archives we have come up with innovative ways in the form of various challenges to share pictures online.

By sharing old pictures in a way we start a chain of forming connections over shared memories. That group of friends you lost touch with after a trip that happened 6 years ago has reconnected after one of them shared a throwback post. Connections have rekindled. In a phase where it feels like time is at a standstill, photographs from the past act as a gateway to paradise, sharing emotions over the funny, the embarrassing, the lovely, the weird.

We may find ourselves rolling eyes at another throwback travel picture on the feed, but these are the ways people have devised in order to stay sane and connected.

Be grateful for the times you have had, surf through the gallery and photo albums from childhood, click hundreds of pictures of anything and everything, capture the moments, post them, share them with the world if you wish to. Because you don’t know when or how it may be the pictures you click today help you stay afloat in the future.

Never underestimate the power a photograph holds, it carries with itself the ability to make you feel things you didn’t know you could. They are the gateway to a world we lived once and wish to go back to just to be in that moment again.

The above blog is contributed by Purva Shethji who is one of the guest bloggers for the PFA community. You can connect with her directly on Instagram on her account @brushstrokes_penstokes

For anything related to the community or to contribute your work write to Pawan Rochwani on hello@pfaindia.com.

We have released the second episode of our weekly podcast show 'When We Met' which talks about How can artists help fight the COVID-19 crisis? Listen to it and let us know your views on Instagram DM.

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