Memories from our youth can give us an affinity for older technology
Ever notice how our generation is surrounded by breakneck technological progress, yet some of us gravitate toward the old stuff anyway? We might get one of those single-unit record players at Target. It’s not uncommon for bands to press their records in vinyl, even with the dominance of electronic markets such as the iTunes store.
Or maybe we pick up an old film camera off of eBay. And think about it: The reason Instagram is so popular is for its imitation of film like color tones and its Polaroidesque frame.
Maybe we keep the old VHS player in the closet because we’ll want to revisit our childhood someday and put in our favorite movie.
It’s a weird habit, considering that we cling to aging tech while companies push the envelope daily on new electronics. At least for our generation, my guess is that it is linked to the age we grew up in. For those growing up in the late ‘80s and throughout the ‘90s, we saw the rise of the personal computer for home use, as well as a larger adoption of the Internet. While before you had a cassette player, radio, VCR and slew of other things, now you could accomplish most of that with an Internet connection and a disk. Today’s smartphone tech compresses it all even more. Records, cassettes and music CDs became digital files on a hard drive. Big boxed sets of VHS movies became a folder with some files. Every radio station became available to stream online. Film gave way to point-and-shoot digital cameras, spitting out jpgs to amass on your hard drive.
Yet it wasn’t a complete takeover. We still used all the older tech in our youth, but we were in the middle of the paradigm shift to new-century digital technology.
The resurgent fascination with the older tech is, in my eyes, the way we express our nostalgia and hobbies. Certain analog tech has ardent supporters. Audiophiles will talk about the “warmth” of playing a vinyl record. Photo enthusiasts will talk about the dynamic range of film or the grain structure. But it doesn’t have to have a specific reason other than nostalgia. Like the comfort of mom-made macaroni and cheese, putting in your favorite VHS or pulling out that camera you used as a kid is about reliving the associated feelings with it, especially considering the technology was a lot more tactile. The VHS had to be rewound, and you watched the picture go in reverse. The record needed to be flipped and the needle placed on it. The film needed to be loaded. Now you normally just see a loading icon on a screen.
Will our passing interest fade away? With a 41-megapixel phone camera (Nokia Lumia 1020), 4k video resolution phone camera (Acer’s Liquid S2), the entire world of music and video available digitally at our fingertips, and all other recent technological advances, what’s the point of caring about the old stuff?
I don’t think it will ever completely die out. The niche interest may grow smaller, but as long as there are people who grew up in an age where everything wasn’t digital, they’ll have an affinity for the tech they could touch and feel.
Andrew is a senior majoring in journalism. He goes to far too many concerts, suffers from severe wanderlust and takes pictures of things sometimes.