Why is everybody so drawn to Retro Future and False Nostalgia?

Ah, Nostalgia! This beautiful word that used to crown some speeches held in front of a numerous public or used to describe that perky smile that appears when your mind  is wandering in a place of which familiarity you can revive whenever you want.

People are forgetting that being able to relive a moment at an almost full intensity is one of the most rudimentary forms in which we can travel in time, both past and future. 

Let’s break it down

When it comes to reliving the past, one should have been present enough in that certain moment in order for his whole being to understand what is happening. Mind, body and spirit should have been in a state of deep awareness in order to leave a print and to become a memory not only for your mind and soul but for your body too. Because you know the pattern and you are aware of it, you can make as many copies as you want whenever is needed.

When it comes to reliving the future on the other hand, your imagination plays a key role in reshaping a pattern that doesn’t exist yet. We can imagine in our minds each day the same thing and we can want with our whole heart the same thing each day. In order to take your body in the same place when it comes to how you feel, you need to imagine and reproduce the feeling that a certain situation is giving you. I know that it sounds something like “if you imagine yourself rich enough, you will be rich enough” but it is not enough.

Your body needs to be prepared to feel whatever mix of emotions a “rich” person has. Now that I was forced to write a theory about time travelling, let’s see why this perspective is useful for understanding a trend that will be with us for at least 5 years, if not, a full decade. 

So many feelings

This feeling that we are feeling when a memory from the past or from the future is accessed in its full state has become the trend that will connect all generations to a language that will make our lives easier. No matter if you call it Future Nostalgia, False Nostalgia or Fake Nostalgia, some time travelling deep in the past that you have not lived is the same with travelling in the deep future that you hope to witness. That’s why we can say that Nostalgia is deeply rooted with something that made you happy in a sense of social recognition of a feeling, let’s say. Because we all know that a trend transcends music and fashion if it’s a strong one and we are also thinking about the political side of things. There is a study from 2014 conducted by Routledge that the more people had major disruptions and uncertainties in their lives, the more they longed for the past. In this case, Nostalgia becomes attractive not only for Dua Lipa who recently had a full nostalgia makeover for her new album but for politicians too. The idea that something that used to be is better than what it is now can be a weapon of manipulation in some parts of the globe because it steals the ability to look forward into the future. Because there is too much uncertainty in the air right now around a threat that caught some of us off-guard, we’ll try to explain the three early types of Nostalgia.


Let’s start with some lyrics from the song with the same name sung by our above mentioned: “You can’t get with this if you ain’t built for this”. Yes, you must be built in a certain way in order to handle the future’s expressions into our present, just take a look at Elon Musk. The guy is trying to fulfill our dreams of having a better future much faster than we can achieve on our own and many maker communities from all over the globe are trying to help the future to be built.

Future nostalgia is usually felt by those who are dreaming of a future through the lens of a past that never happened to them and to which they want to go. This is why we are seeing musical genres emerging like Chillwave, Vaporwave and special gatherings like Algoraves where music is live programmed on a computer. Old analog sounds created by synthesizers are reshaping the soundtrack of our next decade next with the help of the latest sound technology discoveries.  Pairing digital with analog has become a really loved technique among content creators no matter if we are talking about IG or YT content.

If you take a closer look at the aesthetics of this trend, many 80’s colors, patterns and other visual representations are more, let’s say, completed than modified with the help of modern software. Ten years ago,the  80’s were still too close to us and proper nostalgia couldn’t be installed towards these years. Now, when humanity is again making great technological leaps such as it did in the 80’s, we’re trying to comfort ourselves like the ones before us used to do, at least until we are building our own coping mechanisms. Dedicated aesthetic pages have emerged on all platforms and you can closely watch how each business sector will turn to the “finally old enough to be called retro” decade: the 80s.


False Nostalgia is also about yearning for a past that you never had but only used as escapism. Because it is hard to avoid something unpleasant, such as Climate Change or imposing restrictions such as the ones that we are facing due to COVID-19, we tend to escape in times where more pleasant things are happening.

Considered a way of daydreaming, False Nostalgia can be considered a cultural trend such as Scene, Emo, Gothic Lolita or others. You can become a character that simulates a way of being, living and thinking until it sticks to more people and you live together in a storyline dictated by a trend. You could laugh right now, but what if False Nostalgia is here to stay? As we can see, many recent trends have reached a huge public quite fast (are you still a hipster?) and it is not a trend built to stay in a niche. If people will get so good at imagining a past that they have never experienced, how can we improve the way in which we are collectively imagining a future where we all can be ourselves?

False Nostalgia is also used in psychology and personal development classes through some exercises that are meant for your body to remember that it can feel a certain feeling although it isn’t right now. Recalling our past is helping us build better measures for the uncertainty of the future.


We are going a little back to music to the American post-hardcore band named Thursday which has a song called Fake Nostalgia released in 2009 when we barely made it through the 2008 crisis. The opening lyrics are: “You want to live the old days repeat the past/Want to follow in the footsteps of classic men” and it describes the feeling that you have when you see someone not in their true state, when you see a “fake” person. Sometimes, “false” and “fake” can be used interchangeably but in this case, false means untrue or not factual, such as seeing future inspired visuals in 80’s aesthetic and fake means not real or not genuine. Fake Nostalgia sometimes happens at music festivals when a certain song from another genre is played by a DJ established in a certain music category or in advertising when past things, no matter how recent are being brought to the public’s eye as being older than they actually are. 

Don’t despair

What we can say is that reliving past memories can provide comfort to our brains and it contributes massively to our mental health. It gives us the desire and power to also deal with our problems and stress and creates meaning in our lives from the inside when the outside factors don’t work in our behalf. When it comes to brands and consumers, we can expect some personalized nostalgia inducing campaigns this year that will test how we are perceiving our recent past and what we want from our near future. 

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