By Marja

If you cannot meet your family and friends in person, get engaged with people from your past via social media! The upcoming holidays provide a perfect opportunity for setting up an online project to refresh your private memories and reunite with your former schoolmates or neighbors.

A Facebook (FB) group has mobilized close to 1,300 eager members within six weeks, and the number of the participants is continuing to grow. Childhood friends have found each other; class reunions have been taken on the planning; joint visits to the old home town have been scheduled on calendars. These restored connections stem from an exemplary model project that should be shared as a best practice for others to replicate.

Source: Pixabay

Reference Project

The inspiring case I am discussing here comes from my childhood town, more specifically from the suburb where I grew up and went to school. The name of the suburb is Mukkula. A regional university is running a research-based neighborhood development project in Mukkula, which explains why the researchers set up the FB group mentioned above. The endeavor is thus strictly non-commercial.

The FB group addresses kids and teens of the 1970s who used to live in Mukkula in the 1970s. They are invited to post their memoirs dealing with any spheres of daily life, such as school, hobbies and leisure time activities, local events, distinctive personalities, social life and interpersonal relationships, meeting places, built environment, etc. The shared memoirs consist of both stories and old photos that are triggering further comments and responses, making up interactive chains of conversation. Altogether, those individual contributions will form a colorful patchwork that offers glimpses of milieu, atmosphere and lifestyle in Mukkula. In other words, we are talking about contemporary local history with sociological dimensions in the eyes of the first-hand witnesses.

Although the project heading refers to the 1970s, the time range is stretched loosely so that its scope covers some 25 years approximately between 1965 and 1990. Somebody was 18 years old in 1970, whereas another guy was born in 1979. The emphasis is nevertheless placed on the 1970s and the early 1980s.

An old schoolmate invited me to join the Mukkula group while I belong to its target audience. Obviously, I am not the only one who got excited about diving into the past since the Mukkula group has become an exceptionally active, lively and vibrant community. In fact, the platform is almost addictive due to the diversity and the high quality of its frequent postings. It does not only make dusted memories alive, some of which had been already passed out of mind, but it also provides totally new information of my former living environment, which helps me understand the big picture afterwards. I still learn novelties of my childhood years.

Source: Institute for the Languages of Finland

From Nostalgy to Action

After this brief introduction to the nostalgic Mukkula project, I try to construe what makes the experience so awesome. My reflection also points out why the exercise might be worth echoing elsewhere, as well.

Firstly, I see faces, names, addresses and sceneries that I had nearly forgotten although they were once very familiar to me. The feeling is contradictory: on one hand, they are tickling some distant memory cells in my brain; on the other hand, I cannot place myself on those orange photos which seem to belong to an unreal fiction film. It becomes very clear to me, the bygone world of the 1970s–1980s no longer exists.

Secondly, it feels inconceivable that my teachers are either fragile oldsters in nursing homes or they have already passed away. I remember their energetic personalities in their 40s–50s.

Thirdly, classmates whom I have not seen after my 9th year of age, recognize and approach me, writing: “We used to play together. I have visited your home.”

Fourthly, the way of life appears amazingly old-fashioned although we believed to be top modern. Ugly clothes and hair styles look like ridiculous caricatures. However, kids and teens are smiling and laughing heartily, appearing merrier and more cheerful than children today.

Fifthly, the suburb offers a myriad of different activities from sports to culture.  Children spend a lot of time playing outdoors among themselves. Community spirit is still alive, though bullying and fighting is also taking place.

Finally, I am now able to reconstruct and visualize my personal history through the fantastic photos shared by a number of Mukkula fellows. I compare my subjective recollections with the uploaded images and stories until they will coalesce, creating an imaginary, virtual Mukkula in my head. Suddenly, the past becomes much more tangible than for decades. To some extent, I regain my life in the 1970-80s as if a time machine had taken me back to Mukkula!

If you wish to experience a corresponding resurgence of your childhood or youth, revive your ancient networks with the help of social media. You can establish, say, a FB group, focusing a particular theme, such as a decade, a location, a hobby or a school, and then invite pertinent persons to join your group. Re-connect to those whom you once cared about and bring them back to your life from the shadows of history! A human contact is the most valuable gift you can give to anyone.

Happy Holidays!

Source: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay