Times of uncertainty provoke the return to nostalgic media

By rewatching old tv shows or shuffling old playlists, people have found a sense of familiarity in popular childhood media. In the midst of a global pandemic, streaming services such as Spotify, Netflix, Disney+, and more have enabled people to reminisce about better times while indulging in nostalgic entertainment.


Enjoying with the music…. Escaping stress of school and society, pianist Anthony Capatta plays piano. He is joined by his close friend Aaron Lee. Photo by Anthony Capatta

Trying to find comfort during times of uncertainty has sparked the return of nostalgic media such as books, movies, tv shows, and music as people rewatch and listen to their childhood favorites.
During stressful times, many people turn to music, television shows, movies, and books to bring back memories of simpler times. For some, these “comfort medias” are from their childhood, or even just less complicated times.
Sophomore Caden Schaeffer believes there are a lot of benefits in returning to childhood shows and music.
“It brings back good memories,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer turns to Kendrick Lamar’s music when he needs to process his emotions. He feels as though listening to Lamar’s music makes him feel connected to his favorite rapper, almost as if he even grew up in Compton with Lamar.
When Schaeffer needs comedic relief, he watches the office.
“With The Office, it’s a comedy show, so it’s like ‘at least this is making me laugh during these awful times,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer recognizes that comfort media is not one-show-fits-all, and variation is needed for different people in different circumstances.
“The Dark Knight trilogy is kinda heavy, and some of our current problems relate to that,” Shaeffer said. “It just shows that people can prevail.”
Sophomore Anjolie Ware agrees with Schaeffer about returning to childhood media in times of stress.
“It makes you calm and destressed me because I can focus on them as if I were in that moment,” Ware said.
Ware enjoys listening to songs such as “Cool Kids” by Aerosmoth and “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac, which remind her of her childhood.
For Ware, The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer always brings her comfort.
“I don’t even read that much, but “Twilight” I’ve reread at least twice,” Ware said.
According to freshman Kaylin Scanlon, reading her favorite comfort book “The Howard Stern Book” gives her a sense of a return to routine.
“It feels like it’s a digression from a fast paced life. Almost like a return to normalcy,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon describes the relationship with her media as enjoyable because of her prior understanding of them.
“I definitely enjoy how when I engage with these forms of media, it’s something I’ve done before,” Scalon said. “It feels familiar and brings some sort of constant to my life for a few minutes.”
Scanlon says that she returns to nostalgic comfort daily.
“It’s almost more of a default than anything else, watching “The Office” in the background while I do homework just adds a sense of loosened tension,” Scanlon said. “I would say I engage with at least one if not more of these forms of media once or twice a day.”
West Point Army Academy concert pianist Anthony Cappetta finds peace at the piano. When presented with global discourse, Cappetta seeks out the opportunity to practice his skills to soothe himself.
“I find the closest possible piano near me and I just generally play some classical music on there,” Cappetta said. “Sometimes I’ll do a Ragtime or something by Gershwin.”
Cappetta attributes his desire to engage with music by performing it as a way to maintain control when the world feels full of chaos.
“Because in times where I feel like I can’t control anything, I like to feel control over a situation,” Cappetta said. “Piano is something that helps me control my emotions by not relying on something else, no dependency. It’s all just me saying ‘hey like I need to fix [my emotions]’.”
Capetta believes that beyond helping quell his own stress, music can bring people together in times of angst.
“Music does bring people together in times of hardship, whether listening or creating. There’s a buddy of mine from around here, Aaron Lee. He goes with me,” Capetta said. “We meet up together, and we just go and we play music. He sings sometimes, it’s a good time.”
Sophomore Mikayla Baker believes that engaging with nostalgic media can help her calm down.
“Rewatching old shows and listening to old songs makes me feel a sense of relaxation,” Baker said. “It allows me to escape from the chaos of current reality and feel the serenity the media brings.”
Baker finds herself returning to older music and shows when she is experiencing high stress levels.
“I find myself engaging with comfort media when I feel stressed or overwhelmed by anything going on in my life,” Baker said. “Comfort media helps to reduce stress and calm me down.”
Baker’s preferred method of returning to childhood culture is by listening to music.
“My favorite way to consume comfort media is through music. Music is the form of media that helps me the most,” Baker said. “I definitely have the deepest connection with music and enjoy it a lot, which adds to the comfort aspect.”
Sophomore Ally Lemon finds comfort in book series such as “The Maze Runner” and “The Hunger Games.”
“Although I’ve already read both series, it’s a nice way to feel nostalgic and turn your brain off for a while,” Lemon said.
According to Lemon, she finds security in surrounding herself with comfort media.
“I would say feeling safe is a big part of why I consume comfort media,” Lemon said. “It is familiar, takes me back to simpler times and feels like home in a sense.”
Lemon rewatches TV shows that make her laugh, such as “New Girl”, “The Office” or other sitcoms, when she is feeling down. She compares watching “New Girl” to reuniting with an old friend.
“I would describe watching “New Girl” as the feeling you get when you hug a friend you’ve been missing,” Lemon said. “It kind of envelopes you in this warm sense of joy and laughter and you feel at home.”
In the recent chaos of society, Lemon believes she’s been engaging with her comfort media more than ever.
“I honestly interact with comfort media quite a lot these days,” Lemon said. “Sometimes if I feel out of place or I’ve just had a bad day, listening to a favorite song or taking time to do what I love really helps me feel like myself again.”
When things are troubling in the world, many people tend to take comfort in old memories that can be provoked by indulging in songs, TV shows, movies, or books from less gloomy times.
According to Lemon, comfort media can set her up for emotional success in the day and overcome any challenge thrown her way.
“It puts me in a better headspace for the rest of the day, no matter how I feel,” Lemon said.