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Why do vintage aesthetics stick around?

And other musings on nostalgia

Each new generation seems to re-adopt the aesthetics of their parents era. Their music. Their clothing. There’s a comfort and a familiarity with those things—that’s who they come from—and it begins to represent who they are. Maybe the sleek, robotic, futuristic digital world we’ve been shown in movies (and that we’re getting) isn't what people truly yearn for.

There was something nice about life before the digital age. It would have been so fulfilling to actually hitchhike to Woodstock, without a cell phone to seamlessly navigate the journey for you. Those times were messy and imperfect, but they were authentic. That’s what being human is. The music on a record doesn’t literally sound as crisp and clean as it does on a high-definition digital stream. Photos shot on film can be discolored and grainy, with double exposures and light leaks. Yet, we still like them, even though they are literally not as good as something we currently have. Why? It’s our subconscious way of recognizing the value in the analog nature of the past. That in those times, we were more inherently human than whatever we're starting to become. We lived more in-the-moment. We were more vulnerable. Deep down, I think we all realize that the modern world has left us lonely and detached. So we express this feeling through vintage aesthetics, trying to retain a slim grip on an authentic, humanized world that’s slowly escaping us.

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(c) 2024 Nick Gianetti

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