“E-waste” 20 years ago has become the top stream on Xiaohongshu and TikTok

In the not-too-distant year of 2022, nostalgia is a key word.

Wang Xinling's "Love You" reappears the leader of the sweetheart, "The Sound Is Endless" reappears the classics of Hong Kong music, and 100 million people recall their youth in the re-screening of Jay Chou's concert.

The retro trend is not only sweeping entertainment content.

The popular script of "Passed Star" is also the turn of electronic products 20 years ago.

Write Nostalgic Read Trendy

I don’t know when it started, among the overseas Generation Z, the digital cameras of their parents have become an avant-garde popular element, and they are used by them to record life, from wandering on university campuses to carnivals at music festivals.

▲ Picture from: Instagram@mysexyfotos

▲ Picture from: Instagram@rudrascamera

For example, the Olympus FE-230 , launched in 2007, has 7.1 million pixels, 3x optical zoom, and a size that can fit in your pocket. It is very suitable for taking out and taking pictures.

Without the flash, indoor shots look warmer and yellowed, and details look softer.

On eBay, searches for "digital camera" will increase by 10% from 2021 to 2022; on TikTok, the #digitalcamera hashtag has 184 million views.

The point is not really a digital camera, but an old model digital camera that is retro enough.

The love for old digital cameras is spreading across the globe. In the past two years, Olympus FE-230 has also been regarded as a member of the wave of CCD card machines in China's Xiaohongshu and Xianyu.

CCD card camera refers to the old digital camera equipped with CCD electronic sensor. It used to be the mainstream in the camera market. It was mass-produced in the 1990s and has basically ceased production now.

As an obsolete electronic product, CCD card cameras have many shortcomings, including low pixels, slow focusing, slow output speed, higher production costs of sensors, and so on. It is worth mentioning that the pixels of the CCD card machine were around 5 million back then, and the highest was only 8 million, which is not even as good as the front lens of today's mobile phones.

Viewed horizontally as ridges and sideways as peaks, these may not be regarded as shortcomings.

Because of its stylish appearance, low price, simpler control mode, and the ability to create a hazy atmosphere, CCD card cameras are even called "films that don't need to be washed."

Although its "film feel" is just high blur and noise, it is not of the same order of magnitude as the color gamut of film.

The popularity of CCD card machines is not groundless. The star effect ignited the first fire. Ouyang Nana once used Canon A620 and other cameras.

When "Little Treasure" gets out of the circle, its value will rise. CCD card machines cost only "50 yuan a catty" at the earliest, and most of them were recycled as electronic waste, but they were fired to three to five hundred last year. There are even merchants taking advantage of the wind to pit Xiaobai, modifying the driving recorder and selling it at a high price.

In addition to the unclear sense of atmosphere, there is another reason for the popularity of old digital cameras——

Generation Z, who grew up with smartphones, began to reflect on spending too much time on them. Taking photos, socializing, entertaining, navigating… Smartphones have almost everything.

Older digital cameras provide a respite that urges us to focus seriously on the present moment, preserving moments more worthy of being recorded. The slow focusing, the freeze of the photo not being displayed for half a second after shooting, and the process of exporting the photo through the card reader can be said to bring a lot of inconvenience, and it can also be said that the hand-in-hand created a sense of ritual.

In an increasingly digitalized life, there seems to be a substantive "countercurrent".

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, revenue from vinyl records is up 22% through mid-2022. When streaming music can be listened to anytime and anywhere, but not really owned by us, the physical existence of physical music media is highlighted.

If you ignore the hyped bubbles, the renaissance of film is somewhat similar to the wave of CCD card machines. Living in a fast-paced era, nostalgia inevitably becomes our inner buffer zone, repairing our fragmented entertainment methods.

Nostalgia becomes an 'epidemic'

And it's not just old digital cameras, millennial nostalgia pervades Gen Z, even though most of them were kids then.

The Y2K aesthetics, which became popular in the past two years, prevailed from 1998 to 2003. The colors are bright and the materials are full of three-dimensionality.

People at that time were full of fantasies about technology, because the "Computer Year 2000 Problem" coexisted with excitement and anxiety. Pu Shu's "NEW BOY" sang expectations for 2000, and Nokia's digital advertisements presented a grotesque cyberpunk style. It's a Y2K guide.

People at that time also kept a distance from technology, were not dominated by algorithms, did not browse information streams and short videos, and were not yet addicted to mobile phones.

Today, the electronic products that are carried around have become a major terminal of the Internet, and some young people abroad have begun to fall in love with the flip phones in the mid-1990s.

They scour Walmart and Amazon, record unboxing videos of flip phones, and even make photo tutorials. CNN reported that TikTok’s last short video encouraging the purchase of flip phones had more than 14 million views and more than 3 million likes.

Young people with flip phones are optimistic that people are more connected to each other than on social media and that "everything is more authentic and spontaneous".

For them, the contact and photography functions provided by the flip phone are actually enough. At the same time, these photos are grainy and blurry, satisfying the aesthetic orientation similar to that of a CCD card machine.

The flip phone did not make them lose anything, but brought a freedom to disconnect redundant connections and a possibility to improve the quality of social interaction.

In line with this trend, the French social media app BeReal has become the most popular app in the United States in 2022. A Twitter blogger summed up the app that has topped the US iOS download list in 2022, and it dominates the list on 22% of the days throughout the year.

The reason why this app has become the new favorite of young Americans is mainly because of its "social death" gameplay.

At a random moment of the day, you and your friends receive a notification at the same time. Within 2 minutes, you use the front and rear cameras to capture the moment, without any filter or editing, and directly share the real moment of each other that day.

This is what BeReal believes is that "randomness will produce authenticity". Just like taking pictures with a flip phone, there is no need to pursue refinement.

During the epidemic, many people stayed at home for long periods of time, working remotely, plugged in at all times, but feeling disconnected from others.

Today, through alternative social media and older electronic devices, we hope to be more connected but also less connected.

Mass Manufacturing Retro on the Internet

The resurgence of the millennial aesthetic seems to be an escape from the ubiquitous Internet of the moment, but it is still closely related to social media.

On the river bed of Xiaohongshu and Instagram, the retro trend flows wantonly.

In addition to CCD cameras, there are tapes, iPods, iPhone 4, game consoles…

Jackie Kates, head of marketing at HMD Global, a Finnish company that develops Android phones under the Nokia brand, was surprised by the "resurrection" of the flip phone:

The first mobile phone of this generation is not a Nokia, they probably discovered our brand through social networks.

▲ Picture from: "One One"

The retro wave set off on social media often has a lower threshold.

Along with the CCD card camera, film cameras are also included in the "retro" label, but the latter seems to be more niche, and it is more difficult to revive it on a large scale, because its shooting cost and time cost are higher.

Developing film requires continuous investment, not to mention that the price of film is still rising. The most common Fuji C200 film was only about 10 yuan in 2017, and it will rise to 60 yuan in 2022.

The CCD card camera is more like an ideal medium between film cameras and smartphones, and it is also a low-cost way to obtain "defective beauty" photos.

Of course, it can be more convenient, and the filters of various P-map software can be used flexibly to create a retro feeling in the later stage. For example, the LoFi Cam app can simulate the operation interface and imaging effect of various CCD card machines on the iPhone.

Therefore, the self-conceived personality can be shaped and reproduced in a simpler way.

In fact, sometimes, nostalgia is just an old wine in a new bottle in the trend field, just like you can say that the explosion of CCD cameras is just because it is more suitable as a fashion item than a smartphone, without any other meaning. The last trendy template goes out, and then look for another one, as long as they look different, social media always does this thing again and again.

The future is full of uncertainty, and the past is history. Similar to retro filters, the act of nostalgia itself also has colored glasses. After all, we will not really go back to the past. It is precisely because the days have been frozen that memories will be constantly polished in our minds.

▲ Picture from: "Accident and Imagination"

Nostalgia is a long-standing emotion, but it may not sway most people's preferences. If the dimension of time is stretched longer, knotted headphone cables, bulky mobile phones, and low-resolution pictures will eventually be "stayed at a respectful distance." The convenience of smartphones and the hustle and bustle of social media are the "noise" of the times.

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