Allow me to begin this piece with a reference to a 1997 Backstreet Boys hit: Oh my God, they’re back again! Millennials and Gen Z, blamed for the decline of surely everything by now, have actually managed to contribute to the resurgence of several traditional items such as Polaroid cameras, libraries and even record players.
Jason Dorsey, president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, a research company looking at millennials and Gen Z, says the internet has influenced the youths’ tendency to throw it back, giving them access to myriad vintage items.
“Vintage or retro is now the 1990s or the early 2000s. There’s a lot more of those (things) hanging around,” he says. “Having that really cool vintage camera – whether it’s a Polaroid or some other type – being interested in some vintage topic or hobby, you can now immediately find people or follow people on social media who share that same passion, hobby or interest.”
Dorsey’s household boasts both a record player and a Polaroid that his 8-year-old daughter requested after seeing it on YouTube.
“In some ways, you could argue that it’s trendy right now to have these types of things, but we’ve always had periods of nostalgia with each generation,” he says. “In some ways, yes, it’s an expression, it’s a way to be unique, add something different. In many other ways, it’s actually a sense of connection around a commonality and a period in time that for many people maybe they thought was simpler, or maybe they felt had different priorities.”
Millennials take their spouses to have and to hold onto. According to a study from the University of Maryland’s Philip Cohen, the divorce rate in the USA saw an 18% decrease from 2008-2016, which the professor attributed to being “driven entirely by younger women.”
For his calculations, Cohen looked at the number of divorces to married women. When controlling for other factors such as an aging population, the results show only an 8% drop, “but the pattern is the same,” Cohen says.
How ‘Charlie’s Angels’ got millennial:Practical clothes, sexual fluidity and no posing
Martin Franklin, head of global marketing for Polaroid Originals when he spoke with MarketingWeek in 2017, applauded “Stranger Things” (created by millennials Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer) for renewing interest in the brand.
“Thanks to ‘Stranger Things,’ people are enamored by that 1970s and 1980s aesthetic,” Franklin said. “Our market research shows 18- to 24-year-olds are astonished the first time they see a Polaroid in action.”
Dorsey says, “These kind of retro or vintage devices are really an opportunity to connect the cross-generations.
“My daughter who’s 8 likes to talk about, for example, the record player and the Polaroid with her grandma,” he says. “And I just think it’s super cool that you can use a technology that one group thought was cutting edge, and another generation now saying this is 30 years old and vintage as a (way) to bring different generations together.”
The Pew Research Center reported in 2017 that millennials – compared with Gen X, baby boomers and members of the silent generations – frequented public libraries or mobile libraries the most.
Fifty-three percent of millennials (18-35 at the time the survey was conducted) said they utilized either service within the past year. Forty-five percent of Gen X, 43% of baby boomers and 36% of the silent generation had used either service.
The Associated Press reported in 2018 that events and classes drew large crowds to the Pueblo City-County Library District in Colorado.
“This month alone, we’ve got dance programs, music programs and we had a film festival where people made their own films and then we showed them,” executive director Jon Walker told AP. “We aren’t abandoning investing in the book, but we are seeing some shift away from the traditional resources to these other kinds of activities just based on utilization.”
Millennials, Gen Xers to baby boomers:Can you retire, so I can get a job promotion?
‘OK, boomer,’ explained:Why are Gen Z and millennials calling out boomers on TikTok?
As CNBC reported in 2017, MusicWatch found that the majority of those purchasing vinyl were 35 and younger. According to the data gathered, 25% of buyers were 26-35, 26% were 18-25 and 21% were 13-17. Comparatively, 27% of purchasers were 36 or older.
Not only that, the number of vinyl LP sales is seeing an uptick.
According to this year’s Nielsen Music Mid-Year Report, sales increased 9.6% over last year.
Headlines show that a certain generation has found renewed interest in a classic pastime.
“Needlepoint Not Just for Grannies Anymore!” Parade exclaimed in 2016. This year, the Asbury Park Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, explained “Why millennials are trading their cell phones for needlepoint,” and the Palm Beach Daily News reported that “Needlepoint returns to Palm Beach, thanks to millennials and Instagram.”
This hobby has a famous fan. Taylor Swift presented Ed Sheeran with a needlepoint made with her own guitar-string-scarred hands, inspired by Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” in 2014.
The puff sleeves trend gives me anxiety, so I sought celebrity stylists to calm me down
In September, HuffPost – citing this year’s National Gardening Survey – reported a quarter of the total spent “on lawn and garden retail sales” was driven by those 18-34, a group “whose spending on plants has grown at a higher rate than any other age group since 2014.”
Hilton Carter, a millennial or cusper, depending on the definition, is a self-described plant and interior stylist. He has garnered more than 249,000 followers on Instagram.
The “Wild at Home” author reflected on the influence of indoor plants in a Q&A with Dwell published in June.
“When you enter a green-filled space, you instantly feel a change in air quality. Plants clean the air and provide oxygen,” he said. “Watering and caring for my plants is time I find so therapeutic. It’s my meditation. And lastly, living with plants just makes you feel like you’re on a year-round vacation. It’s honestly the best kind of glamping.”
Contributing: Ryan W. Miller