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August 15, 2019 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

The Vines of Nostalgia

It was a Thursday evening and I was an Oriental Kingdom virgin. The warm and familiar smell of a kitchen at work hung in the air. With its relatively cheap prices, and food that never fails to taste like home, Oriental Kingdom has since become one of my favourite food spots. This particular Thursday was my first time stepping into the welcoming, homely seating area. That was when it struck.

I suddenly felt exactly like a naughty kid going to the principal’s office; I’ve been here before. It was the distinct fleeting wave of nostalgia that only two-thirds of the population will experience. As a person who hates surprises, I detest the way that déjà vu can just pull up on you out of nowhere. The term déjà vu is actually French and translates to “already seen”… you see, even the name exudes an air of smugness. In reality, déjà vu is merely nostalgia’s version of Vine. The now-archived video content app is now looked upon fondly by the Millenial and Gen Z kids who grew up with it. And just like the seven-second videos made on Vine, déjà vu is an encompassing but extremely short experience, with little to no context, that leaves you with way too many questions to answer: Have I been here before in a past life? Why now, and why here? Is déjà vu just a glitch in the simulation?

I decided to make it my mission this week to answer at least one of these questions. I thought it would be intelligent to start with, ‘What is déjà vu?’… Boy, was I underprepared for the results of my Google search. I was bombarded with everything from scientific hypotheses to detailed accounts of paranormal experiences. Science provided a various array of explanations for déjà vu. One theory is that déjà vu is a mismatch in the brain’s neural pathways. This could be a result of the brain struggling to make whole perceptions of the world around us with only limited input, the same way the brain can create detailed recollections from a familiar smell. Déjà vu might be the result of sensory information “by-passing” the brain’s short-term memory and reaching the long-term memory. This may create that fuzzy, unnerving feeling that we’ve experienced a completely new event before. Alright, now forget science for the remainder of this article, because here comes a juicy conspiracy theory about déjà vu the government probably doesn’t want you to know about.

The parallel universe theory is an idea straight out of a Jordan Peele movie, minus the sadistic murders. It’s not even a theory or a hypothesis, it’s more like someone’s attempt to explain déjà vu. The ‘theory states that déjà vu is the result of millions of parallel universes, in which millions of parallel versions of us exist (sounds a tiny bit far-fetched, if you ask me). According to this theory, all of us are inexplicably linked to the parallel version of us. So déjà vu can be explained by a parallel version of us doing the same exact thing at the same exact time as us, creating the unnerving feeling that we’ve done this before. There is only one minor problem with a parallel universe theory’s explanation of déjà vu: There is zero factual or scientific evidence for this theory, though I don’t think the people invested in this theory care about that at all. Still, it is kind of comforting to think that there might be someone in one of those millions of universes who had to live out the same cringe-worthy moments that I did.

Once again, I am sat outside Oriental Kingdom. My head is spinning from a week reading a fuckload of scientific theories; my only solace being found down the rabbit-hole of internet conspiracies dedicated to psychology. What conclusion did I come to after the rigmarole of trying to find answers to the question; ‘What is déjà vu?’ I really only came to one conclusion: No one fucking knows.

As much as the megalomaniac in me hates to admit it, we will probably never have an answer about any of the questions that déjà vu produces. Maybe it’s supercilious of us to want (or even need) an answer to the mystery of déjà vu. After all, the percentage of people who experience déjà vu is equal to the percentage of American Millennials who believe the earth is round. We should just be grateful that we are blessed with this rollercoaster ride of nostalgia.

Just like shooting your shot at someone you think is out of your league, it’s probably best to not overthink it. Deja vu is probably just a glitch in the simulation anyway.


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