Sep 2, 2021
What’s behind the rise of ‘nowstalgia’?

Cultural memory is getting shorter, with mass digitisation causing people to seek solace in the recent past. But it’s not solely about innocence – ‘nowstalgia’ is fuelled by a desire to reimagine and right perceived wrongs. So, how is a meme mindset impacting Gen Z’s media consumption and style?

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In 2019, a YouGov poll found that while preferences vary between generations, the 2000s were looked upon least favourably by Britons, with one in five viewing the decade ʻfairlyʼ or ʻveryʼ negatively. [1] Yet in 2021, there has been a marked shift in attitudes. The noughties – commonly mocked as forgettable – has become an aspirational era for Gen Zers and Yers who are interrogating the cultural precedents of the recent past and reimagining them for the present. This near nostalgia is impacting everything from style to media consumption habits, and, in doing so, is challenging the collective cultural memory. Early 2000s ‘vintage’ items are hot items on Depop, which reports that Y2K fashion is one of the most-searched trends on the platform among Gen Zers. [2][3]Films and TV shows from the period have also returned to popularity, with the BBC reporting that in 2020, “a rewatch of The Sopranos, the original prestige TV series, became a lockdown cliche rivalled only by baking banana bread.” [4]