Nostalgia keeps novelties alive


Nicole Schroeder

[heading size=”14″]Despite technology, people still find value in older items[/heading] For the past three years, technology usage in the Columbia Public School district has grown swiftly and steadily. From the fifth grade classes that incorporated iPads into the classroom curriculum last year to the recent decision to begin providing all high school students with an electronic device as of next year, technology in any form is becoming an increasing presence in students’ lives.
This change in technology’s importance for adolescents isn’t exclusive to the CPS district, either. Nearly 92 percent of teens report going online daily and 24 percent of teens say they are online almost constantly, according to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center.
With technology use rising so suddenly, however, many people are changing their ideas of other forms of entertainment, finding older, “novelty” items more interesting and — at times — more valuable than their electronic counterparts.
Senior Elaine Phillips is one such student. Though she uses technology rather frequently for schoolwork or for its practicality, Phillips said she still certainly appreciates older commodities, particularly as a form of communication or entertainment.
“Texting is a ton easier to communicate with others easily but I really like handwritten notes,” Phillips said. “They seem so much more personal and I love that one has the ability to keep notes, where as text messages are not as easy to cherish.”
Aside from her affinity for letters and handwritten notes, Phillips also finds value in paper books, which have faced competition from E-books in recent years. While Phillips said she likes to read E-books for their ease and convenience, she said she still finds paper books important, particularly when she’s researching for a paper or studying.
“If I read for pleasure, I tend to only read electronic books. I love that I can have my books on my kindle or my iPad and buy the next book instantly instead of having to wait to go to the library or place a hold,” Phillips said. “If I have to research, I like feeling the physical book and seeing the grouping of other books in the nonfiction section. I cannot use an E-book if I need to research or for a textbook as I feel like I learn better with paper in my hand.”
Even when reading for fun, Phillips said she still doesn’t necessarily prefer E-books over printed books, finding them more valuable and nostalgic than electronic copies.
“I still like the feel of books in a library and feeling their spines against my hands,” Phillips said. “I obviously use the technology because it tends to be easier, but I love holding paper books or going to rare book shops to find old copies. You are not able to find an old and rare E-book.”
People don’t just place this kind of value in books. Librarian Elizabeth Shapiro said many older ways of communication are becoming more important with the rise of technology, something she said only makes sense as a way to help preserve history and culture over time.
“They offer us glimpses into the past. Museums, libraries, galleries and collections offer us wonderful opportunities to view rare items first-hand in order to learn from the past and to compare to how we live currently,” Shapiro said. “Often it’s not the letter from a famous individual that provides the best insight into a culture or time, but rather the records or items from a day-to-day average citizen, but we’re all caught up in the urgency of the moment, so we tend not to think about preserving physical items.”
Still, not everyone finds these items to be so valuable at this point in time. Senior Anthony Robinson uses technology as much as possible, and doesn’t necessarily believe it’s increasing presence in society warrants such a change in other items’ significance.
“When you’re talking about that kind of value, you’re just going to find subjectivity. Internalized value depends on the [opinion] of whoever is willing to grant value. To me, how I receive a message is not as important the content of the message. So I don’t place value in the debate over paper versus machines,” Robinson said. “I don’t care, I just use what is convenient. I was born and raised in an age where technology has become way more convenient than it’s ever been.”
Even if Robinson himself doesn’t place such value in older objects, though, he said he doesn’t see it as being a problem for those that do. He said people should place value in things they appreciate, and that an object’s age or apparent significance to society doesn’t necessarily have to affect their opinion.
“I’ll say we’ve placed too much value in technology when Skynet takes over and we live in an Orwellian society. I’ll say we’ve placed too much value in paper when death by paper cuts surpasses death by heart diseases,” Robinson said. “[I’m] kidding, [but] in all seriousness, I think it’s a small segment of society that places an extreme amount of value on either form of communication. I think that overall people are more moderate.”
Phillips agrees to a point, and said though she might view older items like books or typewriters in a different way than the technology replacing them, it is more out of respect for the past than anything else.
“I don’t feel like sending a fax is going to come back in style, but I enjoy using older things once in awhile because they are different,” Phillips said. “When I stop to hand write and post a thank you note it makes me slow down and think, not just simply pound out ‘thank you’ on an email and press send. What saddens me is there used to be huge markets for things that were cut out by modern technology … It is sad to me that these types of industries were left behind as society pushed forward.”
For Shapiro, the idea of leaving such memories behind is the largest reason she believes people should place value in the past. She said she hopes others remember to document the past in some way or another for the sentimental value the memories may hold in the future — even if it may involve the use of technology.
“Think about organizing important photos in a way that works best for you, whether it be in a cloud format or in a physical album,” Shapiro said. “Think about what items are important to you and how you can preserve them. You might enjoy seeing these items in the future in order to trigger memories of certain experiences.”[vc_gallery interval=”5″ images=”283529,283526,283527,283442″ img_size=”medium” onclick=”” title=”Yesterday’s norm, today’s novelties”]photos by Caylea Ray[vc_empty_space]Do you place value in older “novelty” items? Why are they important to you? Leave a comment below.