Nostalgia for old technology, where did it come from?

Every year I look forward to the first week of december. Yes, I am also looking forward to the holidays, but what I am specifically looking forward to every year is Spotify Wrapped. For those who don’t know; Spotify Wrapped is when Spotify wraps up all your favorite songs, artists, genres and your listening habits and wraps it together in a slideshow. However, in recent years, especially the last two years, I have noticed I have been using Spotify more and more. Still, I enjoy listening to physical records as well, like my CD’s. Last week I even got a record player to play all the vinyl records I have collected so far. These different ways of listening to music have been intertwining more the last few years. But, how exactly? And more importantly, why?

Making your analog music digital

An example of the way that modern streaming platforms and analogical ways of listening of the past are connecting these days is the $429 record player from the company VNYL. This record player is just like any other record player, in which case you can play vinyl records on it. However, this record player also generates a Spotify playlist while you’re playing your records. This way, the record player allows you to share your favorite records with your friends without actually going through the trouble of finding the artists or specific songs on Spotify. Not only expensive ways of listening are making a comeback. Even old-school mp3-players are now becoming ‘aesthetic’, along with old-school headphones. Yet, many of these old technological devices are not necessarily the best quality. Still, it gives people a certain type of nostalgia. But exactly what type of nostalgia?

Woman wearing old-school headphones, ”koss porta pro headphones aesthetic” by Aspen, Pinterest, date unknown,

Nostalgic for old technology

As you may have noticed, record players have been coming back in fashion the last few years. I, myself, have even purchased one recently as said previously. But what exactly led us to this re-emergence of this way of listening to music? This nostalgia for old technology has often been dubbed ‘tech-nostalgia‘. This specific type of nostalgia refers to our growing love and reminiscence of old technology. This not only includes record players, but also other old technology like instant cameras. This nostalgia also ties in with the recent trend of ‘faux-vintage‘: making a new thing look old. For example, think of certain Instagram or Snapchat filters that puts a grain over your photos or adds a polaroid frame to them. The aesthetics from record players are also being used in modern-day music: from the cracking noises of a traditional vinyl record to album covers in the shape of a record player. Scholar John Campopiano proposes that this tech-nostalgia is due to the fast rate and short span of modern technologies that triggers nostalgic impulses for something familiar and at the same time generates resentment towards the new still unfamiliar.

Go thrift with new knowledge

So next time you go thrifting for a good vinyl record, you will hopefully now know what might have influenced you to go looking for them. Even if you don’t own a record player, try analyzing your favorite music; are there perhaps any influences from technology of old? Either way, enjoy your favorite songs and artists with a little bit more knowledge in your head.