Data

Hungarian Social Media Is Fueled by Communist Nostalgia

I was idly scrolling down my Facebook feed one day when this toaster happened.

Soviet toaster – Not-so-legendary electrocuter of people and burner of breakfasts cca. 1971

“Like if you remember this!”

– blared the post. And that was all it took for the likes to come flooding in. In the first 3 minutes of its existence the post gathered over 3500 likes and hundreds of comments such as:

“Oh, how could I forget those happy days! When we ate hot sandwiches!”

“We used to gather around it as children, waiting for the MIRACLE!” – gushed another commenter.

Really? As far as I can remember this thing burnt more bread than a fire in a bakery and its cables were thicker than my wrist. It you were lucky, you didn’t get electrocuted. But these old, enduring Soviet appliances often got a DIY fix with tapes and wires, so better not tempt your fate. It felt like a nuclear furnace operating in your kitchen and every time it was switched off and safely unplugged, I sighed of relief.

So whatever happened to those hundreds of people who rushed under this post to pledge undying allegiance to this Soviet-era piece of crap?

The post was on a blog called Mindenegyben, roughly translating to everything together in one place, shamelessly admitting that they don’t even bother to try to stick to a theme. They just post whatever will attract likes – and nostalgia apparently does. The demographic that interacts with this (and similar) blogs is the over 50s, or people who were young during the 60s and 70s.

49 of the TOP 50 posts of the Hungarian social media came from this blog. 

02

Mindenegyben mixes cheap (and fake) sob stories with bona fide fake news (on everything from UFO’s admitted by NASA to the click-magnet straight from Sputnik), recipes, old songs, quotes of dubious authenticity, mother’s day poems and other kitsch – and the occasional rallying cry of “Like if you’re Hungarian!” (Mostly during sports events.)

Let’s get this straight: When you are nostalgic about your childhood, it is being a child that you miss. Not the 60s, or 70s or 80s.

When you were a child, your livelihood was safe. One day you could be an astronaut, the next a firefighter, but no matter what, there was always food on the table in the evening. (Even if it was just crappy toasts from this Soviet appliance.) Your program was decided for you, your school year was followed by summer holidays – exactly when the others’ did. You were carefree, had no responsibilities, and your financial situation was out of your competence.

Not to mention that if you were a child (or young adult) in Hungary in the 70s and 80s, you were also enjoying the perks of an early-stage Ponzi scheme called the premature welfare state. Free schooling and healthcare for everyone, financed, even then, by IMF loans. It was designed to sweeten the soft dictatorship of Goulash communism, and it worked. When in 2004 Orbán’s Fidesz decided that the Kádár-system won (and democracy and liberalism failed), they meant this era. When even adults were treated like children. Judged by the activity of these 50- and 60-somethings on social media, nostalgia can indeed move mountains – and soften your brain.

Goulash communism was the era when even adults could be children, taken care of, in stress-free mock-equality. 

But Mindenegyben is not the only blog fueled by communist-era nostalgia. Other winners of the Hungarian social media also heavily rely on this tool.

Other top pages of the Hungarian Facebook are targeted at young people – and rip off 4chan, 9gag, and Reddit for content to translate. The very top page, Tibi Atya, that commands the most followers on the Hungarian Facebook, writes in the name of a fictional drunken priest and built up a franchise of pubs to cash in on its success. It has recently moved into politics and started writing against the corruption of Fidesz – alienating many of its followers who came for dumb memes and drunken jokes.

Good news, however, is that the top 300 posts in 2016 contained only 20 fake news – but also plenty of quality and investigative journalism. (Source: Index.hu)

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