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April 29, 2016

Going Retro in a Technological World

By Maeve Hickey

In an age where everyone is dying to get their hands on the latest and greatest gadgets, why are we still busy looking backwards? We might carry computers in our pockets, but many of us are still buying records and flocking to vintage clothing and furniture shops with newfound fervor. The further we, as a society, go into the tech world, the more we crave the past.

This trend even manifests in our daily lives. For example, the ubiquitous #TBT hashtag, where people (and sometimes brands) post throwback photos on platforms like Instagram has become engrained as habit. These photos are anything from childhood snapshots to classic ‘90s memes, but their message is all the same: “Remember the good ol’ days?”


Even when thousands of songs are just a “tap” of our phones, vinyl is making a comeback. People flock to their local record store, or even big-brand retailers, like Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods to grab copies of new (and old) music. The fact that we are sacrificing the convenience of digital music for the sound and physical ownership of records is revelatory, as we continue to pour our lives into computers that now do everything from making our schedules to answering our emails.

For companies, promoting this is “nostalgia marketing,” and it is exactly what it sounds like—selling that nostalgic feeling to groups who can’t wait to get their hands on the past. For example, Coke has re-launched their old glass bottles and re-released Surge, a caffeine-packed favorite of ‘90s teens. TV networks like Nickelodeon are discussing bringing back old cartoons to attract more viewers.

So why, exactly, are we looking backwards in 2016? Maybe it has to do with our own personal feelings of authenticity. Didn’t interactions and daily activities feel more genuine before the anonymity of the internet and mobile devices? Or maybe it’s simple age-old yearning for happier days gone by. The year may be 2016, but despite our rapid advancement toward a completely digital world, some things are worth holding on to.