I recently came across an article about our modern fascination with everything retro! I must admit it too, I am in LOVE with everything retro. I don’t care if it came from the 80’s, 50’s or anywhere in between. When I was 16 I went through a MAY-JAH retro fix. I listened to nothing but doo-wop, would give anything for a real authentic rotary phone (something that I got the following Christmas thanks to my amazing Grandmother) and even tried to buy a Chevelle as my first car. I suppose it all stemmed with a movie that I was absolutely obsessed with as a child and that I rediscovered as a teenager. But that really was the beginning of my own interests in “the retro”.
Luckily or Unluckily (still not sure) my attraction to the elements of the past continue into today. I have my own Crosby record player and years ago I swooped in on all of my mom’s old records. I’ve salvaged some pretty crafty pieces from the thrift stores, and the furniture in my room is a living map of refurbished pieces from local antique stores. The great thing is that I’m not the only one who appreciates the past. In fact, the entire foundation for the hipster movement is dependent on a connection to the past and an homage to everything retro. But it does seem like no matter where you go you find these ultra hip and modern allusions to how things were wayyyy back when…
Something about that article which I very much appreciated, was this kind of wake up call to our sappy nostalgia. The reason why we don’t have things like record players, rotary phones or analog pictures anymore is because they had flaws. Record players wore out and records got scratched (not mention how annoying it is to have to go flip it over every half hour), rotary phones were cumbersome and took a while to dial and as far as analog pictures are concerned, there is no comparison for waiting to develop film vs. digital.
But I think there in lies our uncontrollable connection to the past. The other day I was watching a documentary about 9/11. The film included amateur footage shot by pedestrians who happened to have a camera that day. Something I noticed, that I never really thought about was how everyone looked on the ground. For some reason when I think about 9/11, I imagine that it was only a few years ago – not 10! In this footage everyone is walking around with an electronic ROCK tied to their ears. Their cell phones are practically archaic. And for something that in many ways feels like it was yesterday, the footage is so incredibly outdated. 2001 was really the beginning of everyone carrying a cell phone. Up until then it wasn’t so commonplace. There still was a bit of mystique in having a cell phone. But with the birth of the new millenium, it seems like it was understood that everyone including your Grandmother was becoming hip and going wireless.
But since then, the technological leaps and bounds are surpassing the public’s appreciation and attention span. Since that haunting 9/11 footage, the improvements and upgrades made to cell phones has been astronomical. Every 6 months there is a new gadget and gizmo that can outdo the competition. Something sleeker and better that you instantly want and need. In an age when our own technology is surpassing our ability to take the time to appreciate it, we have taken a step back and tied ourselves to the memories of when life was simpler. The fascination with everything retro I believe comes from our own inability to process the future of our modern technologically centered world. I’ll be the first one to admit that sometimes I’m a little scared when I think about what the future holds. I feel that in comparison with the history of our race, we are moving too fast and progressing to rapidly. It seems like the generations before us were simply living their lives. Our generation is racing towards the finish line (but what’s at the end?).
Whereas others criticize this new “hipster trend” of adoring and worshipping everything with a past, I embrace it. Its kind of like one last hurrah before we break off into the unknown. We acknowledge that our social media fixated, overly saturated and consumer based society is breaking off into unchartered waters. Everything we know is changing. But by fondly looking back at all your old mix tapes and VHS collections and granny glasses its like having break-up sex. You both know its over and there is no salvaging the relationship, but there still is some emotional connection that you want to remember and hold on to. So if my old Cat Steven’s record collection can be deemed break-up sex worthy…then I’m coming home for seconds!