When I step into my nostalgic time machine, I go back to a time where photos were stored in the attic, music was played only through CDs (even some cassettes) and my only worry was getting home from school in time to watch Hannah Montana. When I think back to these simpler times, I try not to dwell and instead reflect on the happy memories I have collected. Others may relate to these memories, but it’s important to remember they all are personal in some way and everyone will be transported back to different moments in time, individual to them.
Nostalgia is commonly thought of as an escape, back to a period of time where we hold fond recollection of events. However, when reflecting on this, I am also nostalgic about a time before I was born. Throwback 80s nights and days binge watching Friends are hugely popular amongst those that didn’t even grow up during these eras. There is a sense of confusion amongst people my age, and of those similar aged, where we romanticise simpler times, even those we weren’t around for. But why? We weren’t there, so why do we act like we were?
This is a common feeling amongst what is known as the ‘Nostalgic Generation’ which refers to those born in the 90s and the first 5 years of the 00s. I was born in 2000 so I place myself firmly in this bracket, where it feels like I have been raised between two worlds. This generation lies between Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, and Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2015. Although it could be said that clearly the ‘Nostalgic Generation’ either belong to one or the other, the period of time they grew up in saw a huge shift in just a few years.
During this time, new technologies began to emerge which meant an adaptation had to be made through the childhood of the ‘Nostalgic Generation’, to move with the changing times. As a result, this means they can remember a time without an iPhone, with the only mobile available usually being a silver brick to play snake on. However, in a short time and when old enough to realise, this generation became the spotlight of social media and part of the revolution that has changed social interaction indefinitely. This overload of change has meant that those that grew up during this time have experienced ‘early onset nostalgia’, a result of excessive information condensing their sense of time.
Due to this ‘early onset’, this generation move between old and new. The rise of the digital age has meant we are instantly able to have clear, crisp photographs in the palm of our hands that can be shared immediately with others via message or social media. That being said, there has been an ever-growing revival of film photography, being pushed significantly by those considered to be part of the ‘Nostalgic Generation’. This is thought to be a result of this age group having lived through both pre-and post-internet phenomenon, which explains why in such a tech driven society this generation craves old memories. The aesthetic of film photography creates a sense of nostalgia through its grainy and dreamy appearance. There is an emotional aspect to film that can remind the ‘Nostalgic Generation’ of childhood photo albums, and the authenticity of life away from a digital perspective. Technology, however, still plays a huge role where the images taken on film are commonly presented to the world through social media platforms. This is a perfect example of how this generation balances the two worlds that they are familiar with – the past and the future.
The Coronavirus pandemic has boosted the desire for a simpler world, a time where there wasn’t so much global upset and tragedy. During this time, many of us have been searching for comfort from memories to use as a coping mechanism against stress and the unknown. Although being nostalgic is a temporary escape from the current situation, that moment of calmness and restoration has been so helpful to many dealing with this awful time. Nostalgia is able to provide us with a glimmer of hope and even a new sense of being.
When thinking of the future, new advancements in science and technology make it seem possible that the flying cars we see in sci-fi films, could be a reality. For generations to come, the world will continue to flourish with new innovations, but just like todays ‘Nostalgic Generation’ between Millennials and Generation Z, those in the future will still wish to seek nostalgia in crisis or reminiscence.
No matter how far the digital age can take us, there is something in all of us that adores the authenticity of the world, more so now and in the future as an escape from social media and the internet. For the ‘Nostalgic Generation’ of today, nostalgia allows them to continue living the childhood that was quickly flipped upside down by iPhones and laptops. There is something about the past that is comforting, where we can revive and relive.
Words: Gaby Regan, Storehouse Content Team, @gabriellemariaregan