Written by: Joe Bartolotta
Nostalgia, a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, is enjoying a booming time. We can barely go outside, we can barely create new memories, and it’s nearly impossible to escape the widespread fear and anxiety. But we do have our sofas, our laptops, our televisions and our streaming services. When times are tough, the desire to escape to a place of peace becomes ever harder to deny. The fear of missing out has morphed into the remembrance of things past, and nostalgia is now our time machine to a more preferable state of mind.
There is all types of data that show this craving for nostalgia. A recent study done by Nielsen/MRC shows that over half of music listeners have been streaming older tunes from classic artists like Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and The (Dixie) Chicks. Even popular artists from today are following this trend, like Post Malone who live-streamed a fundraiser concert solely covering Nirvana songs. A similar trend can also be seen in the film world, with Google searches for “Classic Movies” being the highest they’ve been in the past 15 years.
This same enthusiasm for nostalgia can also be seen on social media. On Reddit, the subreddit r/Nostalgia has seen steady growth since March, and the subreddit r/90s has grown +9.7% over the same time. Popular hashtags like #TBT and #ThrowbackThursday have been used +43% more frequently across social media. There are also new nostalgic challenges on social media with the hashtags #MeAt20 and #DistractA90sKid which have been trending on Twitter.
Posting old photos, listening to old music and watching old movies have become much more than just sentimental, they’ve become a coping mechanism during this pandemic era. Taking time to look back on treasured memories can be truly beneficial for our well-being, evoking feelings of happiness and positivity. Yet, there is an ironic element to all of this nostalgia. As we continue to adapt to this pandemic era, it is possible that we will eventually look back at this time with a sense of fondness as well. Despite all of the obvious negatives, perhaps we will look back at this time and recognize the new habits, rituals and relationships we’ve formed and reflect on all the little things that really make life meaningful.