Nostalgia, Just a fad or here to stay?

Technology is advancing faster and faster and new gadgets are introduced every day. A new iPhone is released every year and there is more and more that each device can do. We have put magazines into tablets and all of our music onto our incredibly thin smart phones. But not everyone is embracing these advances whole-heartedly. In the past ten years, vinyl has seen a resurgence. And some people are trading in their smartphones for something more basic.  Are the days of flip phones and buying our favorite artists on cassettes coming back?

Indy CD and Vinyl, a vinyl store that buys and resells vinyl, CDs and cassettes in Indianapolis, are in business because of the increased interest in vinyl. “A lot of the older baby boomers are bringing in their records and we buy them,” said Mike Contreras, manager and vinyl buyer at the store located on Broad Ripple Avenue. “We will redistribute to anyone who is interested.” With people streaming music more, millennials are craving a way to see and feel their music. “Since the rise of digital downloads, more and more people are looking for tangibility in their music,” said Contreras. “With a download, you can’t hold it, or hug it. With a record, you can look at the artwork.”

Cody Marsh, a 26-year-old Indy CD and Vinyl shopper and Indianapolis resident, started listening to vinyl with his parents as a teenager. “(When I first got into vinyl) I just thought it was so cool and exciting knowing there were so many different songs from generations and generations sitting on those records.” Marsh got back into vinyl when he moved to Indianapolis a year and a half ago and stumbled upon Indy CD and Vinyl. “The nostalgia of a record store is really appealing to me,” said Marsh. “There are a lot of times I’ll just stop by and walk around and pick up a random album and buy it to add to my collection.”

Vinyl is not the only nostalgic device making a comeback. Cassettes are also rising right next to it. Like vinyl, cassettes peaked in the late 1980s and started going out with the rise of CDs. Now, they are showing up more often among celebrities and music junkies. There is a lot of debate on whether or not this comeback will stick around. “I think cassettes are just a fad right now,” said Contreras. “They do not last as long as vinyl does.”

Not only is this resurgence of nostalgia in the music industry but it is also in the mobile industry. It is no secret that phones have taken over every activity we participate in. We are either constantly taking pictures and videos for Snapchat and Instagram or updating our statuses on Twitter and Facebook. It’s not too far fetched to say that many of us are addicted to our phones and social media. As with any temptation, the best route to avoid falling prey is to remove the object of your weakness from sight, and with that some people are putting away their smartphones and turning to flip phones so they can focus on their day-to-day activities without the constant pressure to be checking feeds, and having to update their own.

Yet while some celebrities and millennials have turned to flip phones in the past years, there is just a small percentage of them that have been successful in the transition. Giving up the smartphone is hard. Christian Thomas, of Muncie, In, was among those who tried. “(Having a smartphone) seemed like a big time waster for me,” said Thomas, “I used it to look up useless facts constantly and to get on social media instead of being productive or having a conversation.” Thomas struggled with the switch. “It was really hard to do,” he said. “I switched back (to a smartphone) because I didn’t feel connected with people like I was with a smartphone.”

The desire for simplicity and the good ol’ days can also be seen in the comeback of film cameras. Some photographers like the idea of taking a picture and waiting until the developing and printing process is complete before seeing the final image. No retouching to speak of. The raw, untouched image is what’s considered real photography by these purists. There is even a YouTube channel dedicated to the subject. 

The speed at which we live, and the technological advances of the past three decades have served to de-personalize relationships and remove some of the tactile pleasures of our most cherished past-times. It’s no wonder then to see people try to “turn back the clock”, and recapture some the analog charm of using devices that were almost on the brink of extinction. The question is how long can we hold onto the past?

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