Vinyl is very much back in vogue these days. At the height of COVID-19 last year, vinyl sales exceeded CD sales for the first time since the 1980s.
And this year, the first Record Store Day of 2021 saw over 1.5 million vinyl albums sold in a week, with more sales being tallied up after the second Record Store Day drop on July 17th. While around 85% of music industry revenues now come from streaming sources, this slow and steady increased interest in vinyl is notable.
While several factors affect music consumption trends, vinyl endures for two main reasons. First, the music sounds better on vinyl, and second, it’s a physical product that can be handled.
The reward is an enhanced musical experience, an earthy, intimate session with your favorite artist or band. But is physical vinyl just an anomaly in a virtual landscape? Or can other retro technology enhance our mental health and stimulate our physical senses in ways that screens and virtual content can’t?
Another retro tech that may fit the bill is the print newspaper. Made possible by Gutenberg’s printing press, the humble newspaper originated as an informative news sheet for merchants and quickly became the dominant method for sharing news widely across geographic areas.
And while the advent of radio, TV, and the internet has changed the way we get our news, a number of local and national papers persist.
Why subscribe to a print newspaper in 2021? Three good reasons.
First, it’s affordable. No expensive equipment needed, and it usually costs less than a latte. It’s a cheap way to stay informed about local, national, and world events, and it comes right to your mailbox.
Second, print newspapers are designed to be disposable. When you’re done, toss it in the recycle bin or use it for some other household purpose.
And third, print newspapers have a clear beginning and a clear ending. No endless scrolling down newsfeeds or news apps and websites that never seem to have a bottom. You start reading on the front page and end at the bottom of the last page. That’s it.
If you want more, you have to go live your life and come back the next day. And because a print newspaper is finite by nature, you can read it with confidence knowing it was designed by an editorial team passionate about crafting a professional and sensible presentation of the day’s news.
Wondering what print newspaper is best for you? Get one that doesn’t insult your values, for starters. If you enjoy Newsmax.com, try The Wall Street Journal or The Epoch Times in print. Or look for a dependable local paper.
A third retro technology that may enhance your mental health and stimulate your physical senses is the spinning top.
With all the digital gadgets available to us these days, you might laugh at the idea of picking up a top. But the spinning top has been entertaining young and old for thousands of years.
Even King Tut was a fan! A wooden top circa 1300 B.C. was found in his tomb. He was only a teenager after all.
I started a spinning top collection with my kids, and I’m not sure who enjoys our spinning sessions more.
Here are three excuses to start your own set of tops. First, they’re an affordable toy to collect, unless you go for the awesome but more expensive metal tops made from materials like Damascus steel or black zirconium.
Second, they quickly break down age, culture and class barriers to help you bond with just about anyone.
And third, they make for a healthy break from screens. Yep, we are looking at too many screens for too long these days. Don’t try to deny it.
Life is all about balance, the ancients mused. Turns out they were right.
By the way, no top collection is complete without a set of spinning tree tops. Try spinning them right-side up and watch them flip upside down by themselves!
A thoughtful mix of old and new technologies can have a positive effect on your mental health. It also reflects not only the generations in your own family but also the history and culture of the nation at large, inspiring you toward an exciting future while staying grounded by the lessons and gifts of the past.
Andrew McDiarmid is a media specialist at the Discovery Institute. He is author of the blog Authentic: Thinking and Thriving in the Digital Age. His writing on technology has appeared in San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The Herald (UK), BreakPoint, and Technoskeptic Magazine, among others. Read More Here.
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