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Nostalgia for a time that never existed, and nostalgia for a time we didn't live through

N

naa

Nostalgia for a time that never existed, or nostalgia for a time that you didn't live through is something I see a lot of people describe as the feeling vaporwave gives them, and a part of why vaporwave appeals to them. It's really interesting to me, and definitely something I personally relate to. I think it's a real, genuine feeling, but I'm not sure why it happens.
I'd like to talk about this feeling in general, and how it feels for you, but I also have some specific questions I'd like to know your thoughts on. Why do you think we have this feeling of nostalgia, even though we weren't there for the time period we're nostalgic for? And as a separate but related question, why are we nostalgic for a time that never existed?

I'm going to talk a bit about my personal experiences with this type of feeling. I personally think it might be related to a sense of comfort, or longing that isn't necessarily rooted in regular nostalgia, or past experiences, but I'm not exactly sure. For me, I think this type of nostalgia can come up from both sounds and images.
These tracks were released by kliffi in 2021. I have no reason to be nostalgic over this, it was released this year and it has a mallsoft feel, but I personally didn't go to malls as a kid, or even live in a place that had them. The grocery stores where I'm from didn't have music, so there's not a relevant comparison in any way for me. There aren't any particular samples I recognize, either. I am nostalgic over it, though.
These are images of a shoe store in Milan, Italy in 1986. I was born in 1998, I'm not from Italy, and I've never even been in a space that looks similar to this. These images make me feel a sense of nostalgia, but I was never there and I don't have relevant experiences to this location. The sense of nostalgia I get from kliffi's tracks from 2021, and this shoe store from 1986 is similar, and related but I'm not sure why.
walter shoe store 1.jpg

walter shoe store 2.jpg
 
N

naa

If you're curious, here are two threads that influenced me to make this post, one by ElPepsi and another one by corporateclone11, they're both really good threads.

I also had some more thoughts I'd like to add. There might be a possibility that current nostalgia is a result of a self-fulfilling prophecy, personally I've been listening to vaporwave since 2013-2014 and it's maybe possible to have that loop back and cause a nostalgic feeling any time I hear vaporwave now. But, I don't really think that's what's happening, I think vaporwave has always produced this sort of nostalgic feeling, even since first hearing it. It's worth mentioning the possibility, though.

I also think vaporwave music and aesthetics are a combination of a lot of different, retro media with really varied influences. That may cause an overarching sense of nostalgia because we are recognizing a few things we're nostalgic for as part of a collective, then having this feeling of nostalgia for the collective as a whole. We don't pick out specific parts to be nostalgic for, the specific parts we are nostalgic for lead to widespread nostalgia for the whole thing. Then that feeling of nostalgia seeps into everything related to vaporwave music and aesthetics.

I think it's possible that the elements vaporwave has that tie it back to the digital era can cause nostalgia for the experience of discovering the internet, getting online for the first time, finding community and exploring a new, digital terrain. Maybe we're all simply nostalgic for that experience, and that leads to nostalgia permeating vaporwave in general.

I think those might be reasons to be nostalgic for a time we weren't part of. It feels like nostalgia for a time that doesn't exist at all might in reality be a combination of this nostalgia, and something more aspirational. I think we long for a time that never existed because we want it to exist. That's just my take, though.
 

Wapoose

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If you're curious, here are two threads that influenced me to make this post, one by ElPepsi and another one by corporateclone11, they're both really good threads.

I also had some more thoughts I'd like to add. There might be a possibility that current nostalgia is a result of a self-fulfilling prophecy, personally I've been listening to vaporwave since 2013-2014 and it's maybe possible to have that loop back and cause a nostalgic feeling any time I hear vaporwave now. But, I don't really think that's what's happening, I think vaporwave has always produced this sort of nostalgic feeling, even since first hearing it. It's worth mentioning the possibility, though.

I also think vaporwave music and aesthetics are a combination of a lot of different, retro media with really varied influences. That may cause an overarching sense of nostalgia because we are recognizing a few things we're nostalgic for as part of a collective, then having this feeling of nostalgia for the collective as a whole. We don't pick out specific parts to be nostalgic for, the specific parts we are nostalgic for lead to widespread nostalgia for the whole thing. Then that feeling of nostalgia seeps into everything related to vaporwave music and aesthetics.

I think it's possible that the elements vaporwave has that tie it back to the digital era can cause nostalgia for the experience of discovering the internet, getting online for the first time, finding community and exploring a new, digital terrain. Maybe we're all simply nostalgic for that experience, and that leads to nostalgia permeating vaporwave in general.

I think those might be reasons to be nostalgic for a time we weren't part of. It feels like nostalgia for a time that doesn't exist at all might in reality be a combination of this nostalgia, and something more aspirational. I think we long for a time that never existed because we want it to exist. That's just my take, though.

I think you're right about the possibility of recognizing bits of old media we're nostalgic for in Vaporwave, and starting to think of the whole as a mix of familiar nostalgic feelings. It makes sense that our minds would clump together emotions like that by association.

Something similar is the only reasoning I can find for my own nostalgic attachment to it. A lot of the architecture I was around for most of my childhood looked like it came from the 80s or 90s, especially restaurants and hotels and malls, even though I wasn't around for either of those eras. So seeing architecture like that in vaporwave brings something familiar for me. And I think after that, I started to connect other familiar memories with things that commonly appeared in vaporwave art. Like 90s soda commercials and 2000s vending machines, they both use refreshing water droplets a lot. And I think that's where my brain made the tie.

Of course I don't know any of this for sure for sure, but it's fun to speculate why.
 
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