For anyone looking for a taste of yesteryear, the world wide web delivers in spades. Around every corner of the web lurks a song lyric, photo, or video clip, that rekindles a time filled with happy memories.
Spotify only recently launched Your Time Capsule, a feature that offers personalized playlists designed to help us step back into our past.
The tech industry knows we love a dose of the past. Such apps as TimeHop, which delivers daily doses of ‘on this day’ social media posts, are there to serve our need for a brief trip back in time.
Why are tech companies doing this? It’s because they know that nostalgia sells, according to University of Southampton researcher Tim Wildschut. This isn’t a negative thing, either. Nostalgia is a positive emotion, in fact, with fond memories providing sentimental value. Some may associate it with longing, but most view it as a positive
Recalling a memory, whether it is a happy or sad one, can bring out psychological benefits, such as simulating the presence of those who are no longer part of our lives, for one reason or another.
A jar of memories is like having the ability to tap into a contact list to comfort us during those lonelier moments. We carry them around and call upon them whenever we need a boost. Loneliness, it seems, is a key factor when it comes to nostalgia.
It is of little surprise, in that case, that we spend a great deal of time searching for things that we don’t really need, simply because they can take us back in time. Photos are a common item that we spend a lot of time trying to retrieve.
Photos aren’t the only object with the power to take us back in time. We love to play games, too, that tap into our subconscious. Case 51 manages to achieve that by offering players of shoot ’em up game CS: GO the ability to buy themed cases. Many are themed around characters we loved as a child (and perhaps even as an adult, thanks to recent reboots), such as Chewbacca and Spock, helping us to touch base with our former selves. It’s a pleasant feature also utilized in various Disney games, such as Epic Mickey, Kingdom Hearts, and Aladdin, which reconnect users with a whole host of their childhood icons by allowing them to play as whichever one they choose.
Sound is another sense that can rekindle memories. With the ability to create personalized playlists on Spotify, we can locate tracks from earlier times to help us recall, and even feel, what we experienced back in the day.
Earlier in 2017, Wildschut approached Spotify when he delivered a presentation on the relationship between nostalgia and music. He helped them to establish a means of creating personalized playlists around nostalgia.
Spotify senior research scientist, Ian Anderson, said that Wildschut described two categories of nostalgia, one being personalized e.g. remembering your first kiss, and the other being general, such as remembering the fall of the Berlin Wall. Anderson was, from that point, confident that if they could isolate personalization over a more generalized ‘high school Top 40’, they could create powerful emotions in the listener.
The result was Spotify’s Your Time Capsule – a personalized playlist designed to trigger nostalgia with songs from the listeners formative years.
Wildschut said that however nostalgia is triggered, and whether it’s technology-aided or not, tapping into memories from yesteryear has the power to benefit most of us from time to time.