A new trend has taken up our scrolling time. The 1980s reign thanks the popularity of stranger thingssend Kate Bush and Metallica topped the charts. The revival of their popularity is partly due to this Thousands of TikTok Videos crafted by members of Gen Z celebrating a slightly warped version of the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. When I look at them, I feel like I’ve entered some kind of spooky valley. Although all the ingredients are there, it’s not what it really was. That Internet created their own version of nostalgia this is not really real: pseudo-Nostalgia.
Pseudo-nostalgia is not new. In fact it has happened before. Remember the ’50s revival in the ’90s seen in things like Robson and Jerome’s cover of “Up on the Roof”? I enjoy them technological relics of my childhood, the fashion and the fancy hairstyles, but deep down I know something is wrong. As a child of those decades, I saw everything firsthand. The scrunchies, the coveted candy-colored original Apple PCs, the jelly sandals, and the Nokia snake circling on repeat.
This world is a digital museum of our most prized possessions, set to the soundtrack of our past. Time has transformed the old clothes that make me wince in photos into costumes suitable for the masses. I’ve seen entire bedrooms decorated like Molly Ringwald’s character Pretty in Pink, complete with curtains and chintz linens. Then there’s recovered old high school camcorder footage overlaid with a looping Tears for Fears classic, “Everybody Rules the World.” They’re real people living real lives right now, and they have no idea they’re part of a nostalgic journey on TikTok.
These digital records are important as they will be viewed as primary sources for years to come, whether it is old footage from the period being brought to life or current reinventions of how we perceive the era today. We run the risk of filtering our own history (literally) – Generation Z grew up in an age of filters and apps.
I embrace technology that allows for playful experimentation; Perhaps these people genuinely love the past and feel a deep urge to reconnect with it. It becomes a problem when it distorts the truth or creates a made-up image instead. Brands know that people are in love with these attractive and eye-catching time capsules, and they want to capitalize on these homages to the past.
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Quicksilver have created quite a few stranger things Clothing based on the show’s costumes and marketed in an 80’s style. American eighties style. Not British. That’s one thing these TikTok videos don’t make clear: British ’90s fashion was nothing like American ’90s fashion. While there was some overlap, these are two different countries and two different cultures, and these TikTok videos portray one as everyone’s experience. American culture seems to be the most acceptable lens to view these time periods.
We filter our own history. Pseudo-nostalgic videos that appear creative and fun on the surface are in danger of becoming just another commodity people use. I’ve been enjoying the trend for over a year now and I can see it growing in popularity. But it should just be a guilty pleasure to leaf through in life’s downtime.
I enjoy the pseudo-nostalgia of the 80’s and 90’s as much as anyone, but I know it’s not real. Other people might not, and that’s where the problems start. We long for the unreal. One only has to look at the effects of filters on how we perceive ourselves. People buy makeup that makes their skin look like it’s been photoshopped, while the plastic surgery industry thrives on unrealistic representations of bodies. It distorts our self-esteem and now even our past is going under the knife.