Updated: Oct 27, 2020
By Eres Croker
Image via CAMP Collection
Retro culture has an arising prevalence in our generation. Elders and adults alike seem to question our methods of living: thrift shopping, record players, film cameras, old music, typewriters, etc. are recognized as a continuous effort to be indie, grunge, and “not like others”. As a participant in this culture, I decided to do some digging to understand why others are so fascinated by vintage nostalgia, and why I am too.
Being that we are more technologically advanced than ever before, baby boomers and Generation X are taking advantage of the opportunities left at their fingertips. Growing up with little to no technology, it is incredible in their eyes the things we are capable of today. So, if we are so lucky to have such amazing technology, why are we fascinated by things way before our time?
Though technological advances have assisted us in many beneficial ways –– medicine, disease, jobs, and more –– it has made everything so easy, to the point where nothing is special. We download music at the touch of a screen, and it has no major impact on our lives; we have digital cameras in our hands at all times that provide us instant gratification with no element of surprise; kids don’t learn how to type because they have a vertical computer that takes no effort. Long story short, experiences are becoming less and less valuable, because instant gratification is so prominent in technology, and we don’t get the climactic feeling of getting something after a long wait.
Think of typewriters; the art of writing is the hands-on effort and careful placement to see your work come to life. Computers give us edits, backspaces, and as many changes desired. With a typewriter, you enthrall yourself into your words, focusing ever so intently on your fingers and the letters stamped against the thin paper. When a mistake is made, your intention is with the paint brush covered in white sealant. This is a clear practice of mindfulness and being with yourself in the present moment.
What about the experience of photography? The process of developing film or sending disposable cameras off for weeks to wait for them to be finished feels like a wasteful amount of time when we have the resources to get around it, so why do we still use them? The excitement of waiting for your photos to come in and then finally getting them is something special. You don’t know what they look like or how they turned out, so it’s like receiving a present.
That’s how I think of thrifting; a present. It’s like walking into an ancient unexplored treasure with infinite possibilities of artifacts that can’t be found anywhere else. Wearing thrifted clothing isn’t just about looking “different”. It provides a sense of individuality and uniqueness. In a world of popular fast fashion, trends pass and go within weeks, and while they are prominent, it seems like no one has their own sense of style anymore. The same clothing is repeatedly worn by people all around, and sometimes multiple people will be matching on the same day. Fashion is art, but how can that art be appreciated if it’s already being shown around you, over and over?
Not only that but buying from thrift stores and resale shops is actually making a conscious effort to protect the environment. According to Business Insider, “Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity's carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. What's more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean.” Essentially, fast fashion is one of the major components responsible for the pollution on our earth. By buying and reselling clothing, we are making efforts to pass down the same fabric used years ago, instead of constantly reproducing new waste to come.
Now, let’s be honest, what is the bigger reasoning behind the admiration of older times? We have been brought up in a world that is already arising in technology, and it has become our daily norm. The chaos of the internet along with the horrible effect on mental health due to social media is something that we’re accustomed to, and we’re tired of it. Delving into a world that is unknown to us gives us a sense of adventure and purpose. We are not stuck on the corrupt agenda of today’s propaganda, but looking back on simpler times when things weren’t so easy. In fact, they were better.
So much time in our lives has been wasted on technology. We have lost the communication skills to interact properly face-to-face. There were times when people actually participated in their lives; spent valuable time with family; played outside and connected to nature; learned about the beauties of life and not just our perception around it.
From my personal standpoint, I feel that true life was before technology. It is addicting yet unproductive and belittling. It takes away attention from the world around you and focuses you on the story that everyone has made up about their lives. We often don’t recognize the news or true tragedies occurring behind the scenes because our media is filtered to make us believe that we are informed and educated.
We like the idea of having individuality; not being a carbon-copy of everyone else; connecting to our elders through their experiences and standards. Maybe we are just some lonely kids desperate for attention and calling to the voids of the earth, “notice me!” with our light wash jeans and Fleetwood Mac records; maybe we are just finding excuses to be noticed as different; but I would rather live in the adventure of discovering the imagination of a different generation, filled with unexplored territory and life lessons, than mindlessly follow the agenda of a corrupt generation and it’s behaviors.
Written by writer Eres Croker