Stalled in Nostalgia

Books, Lighters and Other Things That Are Disappearing

The world is changing. As technology continues to develop, many of the items we’ve come to know and love are starting to become obsolete. This trend is not new, of course. Anyone over the age of 30 has experienced “Object Extinction” one time or another, whether it be those mustard colored home phones with enough telephone wire to lasso the moon from your front porch (Bruce Almighty-style) or jean overalls with flower prints on the pockets. While I understand that old technology cannot stick around for forever, it still makes me sad when I realize there are some things that my kids will never get to experience, concepts that they won’t even understand. For example:

Mix CDs

Every summer, my friends and I used to drive up to a small cabin in Wonalancet, New Hampshire (a town so tiny, its Wikipedia entry is only a few lines long) to eat junk food, write poetry and appreciate Earth’s natural beauty. Although we usually only got around to the first activity, the trips were fun all the same due to the exorbitant number of mix tapes that we would create for the ride there. Filled with songs that you are only comfortable singing along to in front of your friends (90% being Disney tunes, 5% being past and present boy bands, and the remaining 5% being High School Musical songs that you “forgot” to delete), these mix CDs were a quintessential part of our trip. Recently, though, with the popularization of car wires in the past few years, mix CDs have been pushed aside. After all, why go through the trouble of making a playlist, buying a batch of blank CDs, spending an hour burning the songs onto one of the discs, and writing out a track list when you can simply construct a playlist on your iPhone and play it instantly through the radio speakers? At this point, I’m relying solely on Valentine’s Day to keep mix CDs alive because it remains a cheap and easy V-Day gift for the majority (Read: just me) of girls across America.


Okay, so I’ve never actually used a lighter at a concert but I’ve always thought the idea was admirable in some way, perhaps the same way that one admires a mother’s hairstyle in old photographs from the 80s. Despite the obvious fire hazard that using lighters at concerts presented (crowds of people waving mini-torches back and forth in a small area), the thought of being amongst a group of people that appreciate the same music as me and holding up our lighters to the sky makes me all tingly inside. I don’t get that feeling at concerts nowadays. Holding up cell phones during slow songs instead of lighters seems to me like holding up a Beanie Baby instead of Simba on top of Pride Rock. It’s simply inauthentic. It also doesn’t provide any threat of danger (if there is not at least a 90% chance that my hair could catch on fire wherever I’m going, I slip into my pajamas and refuse to leave) and is therefore, not interesting.

Printed Pictures

I made my Facebook in 2007. Since then, I have uploaded a disgusting total of 3,292 pictures, pictures that chronicle my entire middle school and high school existence. They only exist on Facebook. Think about that. If, one day, a master hacker manages to crash the entirety of Facebook, eliminating every picture that it holds, will you have anything left? Our generation relies so much on media sites like Facebook and Photobucket to keep our lives in order that we never consider the possibility of their failure. As a result, more and more people are starting to abandon “hard copies.” On the other hand, printed pictures are equally, if not more, vulnerable. Say a serial photo-killer sneaks into your house in the middle of the night and sets your photo albums on fire (miraculously, the fire is contained to just the album). All those baby pictures that once entertained your friends and significant others are gone if they have not already been transferred to the Internet. What’s the solution? Print out your favorite photos from your Facebook account (or just all the weird pictures of your friends that you said would never show up online) and stick them somewhere safe. If one method fails, at least you’ll have a backup.


There isn’t a name for the feeling you get when you crack open a new book. It’s unlike anything else in the world to know that, in your hands, you hold a story that has never been told, a book with characters that have never existed before. But books are bulky and in an age where everything is getting thinner (laptops, phones, people), they are becoming a burden. Now, this is not my personal philosophy. Though I won’t deny that I read books on my phone from time to time (holding coffee and a book on the subway at the same time is a skill that doesn’t get enough attention), I appreciate the power of a paperback more than anything. Books are the cheese to my macaroni, the syrup to my spaghetti, the Ross to my Rachel. I love them more than I love the sound newborn kittens make. But eBooks are invading and it’s threatening my eternal happiness.

I always thought that seniors were the only ones who had to watch things disappear, but as it turns out, the process starts a wee bit earlier than I expected. You hear things like, “When I was your age, we didn’t have computers; we had to write everything by hand!” come out of your grandmother’s mouth and you laugh, not realizing that in 50 years, when our kids start asking what Mix CDs are, we will have to explain to them in our most nostalgic voice how we used to walk to the store to get blank CDs (20 miles, each way, in the snow, in the middle of winter, wearing only socks) so we could drive up to a cabin in the woods, sing Disney songs and pretend that the world would never ever change.

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  • Desiree St. Duran

    I refuse to give up printed pictures and real books!

  • Aime Aguayo

    LoVed your post, it was soo much fun to read! I too love real books too much to ever part from them!

  • Michelle Vendetti

    Loved the lighter comment…. Holding an iPhone is just not the same haha!

  • Joelle Poitra

    I just tweeted about the lighter thing last week when I watched a concert on TV! I’m happy I’m not the only one that feels this way. Haha. I miss lighters! They just gave more emphasis to the music! =)

  • Gina Vaynshteyn

    Great article, Tyler! I miss making mix cds. What’s better than finding an old mix cd from high-school in your car, playing it, and getting all nostalgic over Bright Eyes and Panic at the Disco?! Nothing.

    • Tyler Vendetti

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Our CDs usually consisted of Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, and Britney Spears. Or any song that we listened to in elementary school, really. They have a certain charm to them.

  • Sam Roelich

    I’m just wondering how old you are? Mix CDs? Until I was 16 or so, I was making mix TAPES! And I’m 25. Do you remember the skill of mix tapes? Where you had to manually adjust the recording level so that it would all be at the same volume when you played it back? Or at 13 making radio shows on tape? Or am I just older than I think I am?!

    • Tyler Vendetti

      I’m 19 so I think I just missed the age of mix tapes. I also remember making radio shows on my phone audio recorder or the computer webcam so it looks like I experienced a slightly different progression of technology than you did. :)

    • Shandra Goldfinger

      I’m 26 and I’ve never made a mix tape, only a mix CD. Interesting!

    • Jessica Navarro

      Sometimes, I still make mix tapes. To me it’s a little romantic. When I make a mix cd or playlist, I still call it a mix tape. This is the romantic in me. I agree with you about books. My mom got a kindle as a gift from someone. She’s been telling her and I can share. I’ve used it once. My mom keeps telling me stop buying real books and to use the kindle. But I love having a book in my hand.

      While I have switch over to other technologies like the iPod, I still find myself buying records and cds. A record store is where I grew up.

  • Elizabeth Dougherty

    I will probably cry the day print media becomes obsolete. I just love the feel of a book! Also that satisfying sound when you stack them, and how awesome a tall stack of books (especially new) looks. I love having a newspaper that I can hold in my hand, so if a story sticks out to me, I can keep it.

  • Memo Herrera

    Thanks Tyler for your insights. I’ve recently bought a film camera in a flea market. By using it, I will force myself to print every single picture.

  • Mélissa Plante

    Wonderful post! I’m 20 and until not so long ago, I made MixCD to bring into my car and now my iPod is always ready for a short or long trip!
    Also, I can’t imagine the day when real paper books will no longer exist! I will never get tired to hold a book… even if it can be really difficult when I’m stuck between 2 people in the bus 😉

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