Why My Son’s Love of Vinyl Records Gives Me Hope For the Future

Simple human pleasures live on in this increasingly automated world

Photo by blocks on Unsplash

My son is in his early 20s. His generation is fuelled by technology. They live their lives at a fast pace through apps, social media accounts and cashless payments.

He sometimes calls me a dinosaur even though I use a lot of technology in my own life. The eye rolls come out when I hanker after the simpler life I had at his age.

I really feel that his generation has had some simple pleasures taken away from them by the devices and tools that they use to manage their lives. Things that are supposed to make life easier and better sometimes make life harder for them.

Technology isn’t always a power for good. Kids and young adults get stuck in a cycle of having to fit in, to always do or say the right thing. They are bombarded with images and messages that tell them how they should look, act, think and feel.

They live in a world where people can be cancelled by online opinion. They can’t always differentiate the truth from lies. Lies become the truth if enough people repeat them in a tweet, post or comment.

The pressures they are under are far greater than we experienced. An Express VPN study found that 86% of 18–24 year olds said that social media had a negative effect on their happiness.

It’s no wonder parents worry about the way their children lead their lives.

I’m not saying that things are completely bleak. Young people obviously still know how to enjoy themselves. And, I realised recently that they are just as capable of enjoying simple pleasures as we once were.

My epiphany moment? My son bought a turntable and started collecting vinyl records. This might seem like a simple thing — a lot of young people are doing this now — but it really made me stop and think.

It took me back in time.

I got my first record player when I was 16. It was a portable stereo with terrible sound, but I loved it. I remember how good it felt to save up my pocket money or part-time job earnings so that I could buy an LP at my local record store.

Music became a big part of my life from that time onwards. I joke that when I married my husband, we also married our large record collections. Two became a greater whole.

But, we’re not Luddites. We had to move with the times. CDs ultimately replaced vinyl; we went through CD players, iPods and now stream most of our music. Our vinyl collection became something we rarely used that took up wall space.

A while ago, we decided to trim our collection. We needed more space. So, we kept those LPs that still meant something to us and created piles to sell or donate. Weirdly, these piles kept getting smaller even though we kept adding to them.

Our son was hiving off records he wanted. He showed us his pile and asked if he could have them. We had a bit of a parental happy dance. It’s nice when your child openly admits that they like something you like.

Turns out he feels the same way about vinyl as we did. He likes the tactile experience of taking a record out of its sleeve and manually putting it on a turntable. He examines the cover and inserts as he listens.

He appreciates the warmer and more natural sound of vinyl. He likes to play an LP in the order in which the artist or band organised it.

Plus, he spends time wandering around London finding new or used vinyl to buy. His joy when he finds a rare LP or manages to snag a limited edition issue is heartwarming.

In a world that moves at a fast and technologically dictated pace, he has carved out time for simple and slower pleasures. Sure, he could stream all his music and save money. But, the vinyl experience is more fun for him.

I find it encouraging that young people can still find positive ways to relax and enjoy life. Some take different routes such as reading or playing/watching sports. Any and all of these simple human pleasures help them enjoy time away from screens and their stressors.

Things go in cycles in the world. Even though technology moves us along, sometimes we go backwards towards simpler pleasures and experiences. I never believed that vinyl would come back into the mainstream after so many years but, for my son’s sake, I’m glad it has.


Express VPN: ExpressVPN survey reveals the extent of Gen Z’s social media fixation

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