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Before, someone would be opening a photo album at family gatherings. “Oh, there’s Anna taking her first steps!” a mother would say to a guest who is most probably a newly introduced partner.
An uncle with a compulsory bottle of beer would point at a random picture and tell a story of how they survived the wilderness, or something else equally unbelievable.
A nephew passes by and accidentally sees a picture of his teenage self and cringes to himself.
While this might still be true to some families, the new habit is to take out their phone and zoom in the pictures.
The aunts and uncles would call on their younger family members to teach them how to navigate apps.
The phrase “I saw it in your post” is something frequently inserted in conversations.
Keeping memories on social media
Sharing life updates on social media has become part of our daily lives, especially for younger generations. According to the Pew Research Center, the top five topics of American teens’ posts on social media are the following: accomplishments (49%), family (44%), emotions and feelings (34%), dating life (22%), and personal problems (13%).
In 2014, a total of 1.8 billion photos were being uploaded to Facebook, WhatsApp, Flickr, Instagram, and Snapchat daily. Today, more than 500 million stories and more than 100 million posts are uploaded every day on Instagram alone.
The things we upload on the internet stay forever, so using it as the eternal photo album should suffice, right? This is true, yes, but think about how posts are being buried one after the other, considering the number of daily posts on social media.
If you’re looking for a particular picture of an ongoing piano class from five years ago, you might have to scroll through endless posts or take several guesses on keywords on the search bar.
How can photo albums and physical prints survive the digital age?
There’s no one answer to this, but one interesting angle is nostalgia. Millennials have been branded as a nostalgic generation, fascinated by everything retro, old, and vintage, despite the growing number of technological innovations.
Today, we have #TBT and 80s-themed parties. Young people buy record players, vinyl, and film cameras even with the presence of digital alternatives.
An example would be the revival of Kodak’s Ektachrome, a 35-mm film camera that was discontinued in 2012 only to have a comeback 5 years later. The same company’s film business, then, found a 21% annual growth in 2018.
Another telling sign for the love of physical prints is the continuing rise of Fujifilm Instax, selling 6.6 million in 2016 alone. Aside from this, external and portable camera printers, such as Prynt, are available on the market. These printers only require a smartphone and an app, and anyone can *print pictures on-the-go.
Many would say that the growing nostalgia of younger generations stems from the bleakness of the present. With the rising popularity of film cameras, disposable cameras, and *Polaroids, it looks like physical pictures are here to stay.
Looking back at the past gives a sweet, warm, and fuzzy feeling, so the good old flipping of pages on photo albums might still be here to stay.