Reclaiming “Old-Fashioned”

It says it right there in the header: Deborah Makarios, Old-Fashioned Fruitcake. But what do I mean when I call myself old-fashioned? (Sorry to disappoint you: am not actually a cake.)

Mummy cake (8122502298)
The Old-Fashioned Fruitcake faced with getting out of bed on a winter’s morning.
There are so many negative connotations that people apply to the term ‘old-fashioned’, such as prudish, backward, ignorant, intolerant, narrow-minded, prejudiced, uneducated, judgemental, afraid of technology… The list goes on.

I am not backward, nor ignorant, nor uneducated (I have allegedly Mastered at least one Art); and I hope I am not prejudiced, judgemental or narrow-minded either. (You already know what I think about being intolerant.) I don’t think I even meet the definition of a prude, although anything involving the word “excessively” is bound to be open to interpretation. I’m not an enthusiast of modern technology, but I find it useful and I make it serve my ends.

So if that’s what this old-fashionedness of mine isn’t, what is it that it is? (Excuse my French construction.) The underlying belief of the old-fashioned is that just because something is newer, doesn’t mean it’s better.

Arthur-Rackham-Aladdin-New-lamps-for-old
New lamps for old: bad deal, would not trade again.
But that doesn’t automatically mean it’s worse, either. To paraphrase A. A. Milne, the third-rate mind is only happy when thinking with the majority; the second-rate mind is only happy when thinking with the minority; and the first-rate mind is only happy when thinking.

Old-fashioned people believe in lasting quality: not for them the flashing of status-symbols which need to be replaced every year because they cease to perform either their physical function or their social function (i.e. break down or become uncool).

In fact, old-fashioned people generally have old things – old things that they actually use, rather than keep as investment pieces – and very often old-fashioned skills as well. You could say that old-fashioned people value ‘old’, including old people. (They’re also, therefore, less likely to be heard complaining about getting old themselves.)

Happy Old Woman
Old-fashioned people believe in enjoying the good things of the past, without having to pretend that everything was perfect back then and is horrible now.  They refuse to see history as a simplistic straight line from bad past to good present to better future. Every time, place and culture has its good aspects and its bad aspects.

Old-fashioned people – and this is where they have a lot in common with eccentrics – refuse to let peer pressure dictate what they can and can’t do, and perhaps even more importantly, what they can and can’t enjoy. No old-fashioned person is ever worried about other people finding them or their enthusiasms uncool. In fact, if an old-fashioned person ever becomes cool, it is probably by accident – as when their preferred style of dress happens to come into vogue.

Old-fashioned people could be considered to be traitors to their time, because they refuse to do “the done thing”. Some may abide by the social code of a different place or time; some may simply abide by “that still small voice called Conscience,” as Mr Rochester put it. (Old-fashioned people tend to be very intentional about their ethics.)


But try to push them into becoming more modern, and they’ll dig in their heels – unless they can see benefits other than just fitting in. Old-fashioned people don’t usually set out to be the odd one out, but it doesn’t usually bother them that they are – except that they tend to feel sorry for people whose desire to be ‘in’ prevents them enjoying the good things of life which they themselves enjoy.

The sad thing is that even though the old-fashioned are frequently living a good life – with the best of all times open to them, and free from the fear of uncoolth – they are so frequently denigrated.

Want to wear clothes that cover all your skin in winter (or at any other time)? “Prudish!” (Unless of course you’re a guy.)
Can’t be bothered shelling out for a new iThingy every 12 months? “Behind the times!”
Don’t want to post intimate details of your body/relationship online? “Inhibited!” (Never ask an old-fashioned person to “send nudes” – unless you’re married to them. And even then, prepare yourself for a lecture on cyber-security.)

Nrol-39
Happy to keep the old ninctobinkus that does one thing well, instead of buying a new one which does eight other things you don’t need, but will break down the second the warranty expires? “Dinosaur!”
Want to fix something (clothing, furniture, relationship…), instead of just scrapping it and getting a new one? “Backward!”

We have so many boxes that we put people into, and while they may fit with the main heading on the box, there’s a whole lot of other stuff we shove in there too that may be completely inaccurate, but which they may feel pressured to conform to (or just be insulted by).

Stay-at-home mother? “You must be uneducated, and therefore fit for nothing else.”
Don’t shave your body hair? “You must hate men.” (Unless you are a man, in which case no one turns a hair, shaved or otherwise.)

Fiumi (8059146598)
Modestly dressed? “You must be in some kind of cult and produce an endless series of babies (and be incapable of thinking for yourself).”
LGBTQI[…]? “You must be socially and politically liberal in all things.”
Young? “You must be a technology addict and demand constant praise.”
Old? “You must be a Luddite and probably in league with the oppressive patriarchy.”

Old-fashioned can also be a box. I fear that some people are afraid to admit that, say,  they’d prefer a quiet evening in with a friend or two, doing cross-stitch and sipping hot chocolate, to going out and raving in a nightclub. Or even that they’d quite like to be able to do both (although not at the same time: nightclub lighting is seldom suitable for cross-stitching).

But they feel – and probably quite rightly – that people will dump them in the old-fashioned box and erase everything else they know about them. It is perfectly possible to be old-fashioned in some ways, but not in others – it’s not a rigid preset of All Your Opinions On Everything. No way of life is.

Clone Trooper (EpIII) Cross Stitch

I have this weird feeling that so many people are in the hamster-wheel of modern society – get more! be sexier! look cooler! get more! – and I just want to shake them and say hey! come on out here, it’s great! (Yes, people will still be judging you, but at least it’ll be inaccurate judgement.)

Don’t be imprisoned by society’s expectations and the fear of being left behind by the March of Progress. (Side note: yeah, it’s a great parade, but I’m pretty sure Progress doesn’t know where it’s going.)

Break free. Be old-fashioned. Live a good life.

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