Obsolete Technologies and Millennial Nostalgia

From the WordPress Daily Prompt:

Of all the technologies that have gone extinct in your lifetime, which one do you miss the most?

My generation (AKA the Millennials) is always feeling nostalgic for no good reason, especially considering that we’re not really old enough to feel nostalgic. I recently read somewhere that the reason for all this Millennial nostalgia is because technology has changed so quickly in our lifetime, leaving us with more to be nostalgic about in a short time. Not sure I agree with that, but there are indeed a lot of memories surrounding items that are not around anymore or have been upgraded.

I remember being tethered to the kitchen by the telephone’s cord, then getting a cordless phone a few years later and a cell phone a few years after that. I played for hours on my Game Boy Color (still have it and it still works), which did not have a backlight and whose graphics were appallingly horrible compared with today’s handheld gaming devices. I remember our giant CRT monitor and the sound of the dial-up modem and how my brother would have to stop playing his online game so I could call my boyfriend. I remember listening to Christmas music on cassettes while riding in the car. I remember going to the video store and taking out The Secret of NIMH for the millionth time and having to rewind the tape when I was done. Not even 10 years later, the video store went out of business, and we were getting Netflix DVDs in the mail (now we don’t even get the DVDs; we have online streaming). And I remember learning about the old card catalog at school, which was replaced with a computerized system a couple years later.

Whew. Lots of technological change in less than 30 years, and I didn’t even get through half of the things I could think of off the top of my head. So I guess I am one of those nostalgic Millennials after all.

But I don’t know if I miss any of those old things per se. It’s nice to look back on how things once were, but I’m not sure if I’m feeling nostalgic because of the technology itself or because those times fell in the realm of childhood/teenage years, which were easier times than growing up and having to face *gasp* the real world.

My theory is that Millennial nostalgia is caused not so much by the speed of the advancing technology but by a yearning for our childhood, as we are coming into adulthood and now realizing what we had taken for granted. It could also have something to do with the economic depression in the late 2000s and early 2010s, which made getting a job and meeting other “milestones” more difficult.

Perhaps we are not the most nostalgic young generation that ever was, but we sure do whine about it a lot. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Obsolete Technologies and Millennial Nostalgia

  1. As far as I can think, the main obsolete technology I’m nostalgic for is the BBS — the old dial-up kind. The internet is great for being in touch with people from all over the world, but there’s something nice about building a local community as well.

    You can go out to dinnner and have parties, for one thing. I remember once a bunch of us were having dinner at an Indian restaurant. There were about a dozen of us: men and women; 18 to 80 years old; white, Black, Puerto Rican, Japanese and Chinese (Our Othodox Jewish friend wasn’t there — Indian food is almost impossible if you keep Kosher).

    On the sidewalk outside the restaurant, as we went through the usual post-dinner goodbyes, someone came up to us and said, “I have to ask. How did such a diverse group ever come together?”

    “On a BBS,” of course.


    • And now it seems like most everyone seeks to hang out with people who are like them in some way, so that nobody’s feelings get hurt and so everyone agrees with the others’ beliefs. Interesting.


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