What comes to your mind when you think of 2014?
If you’re anything like me, you immediately associate the year with its distinctive online aesthetic… that is, after you’ve gotten past the initial tidal wave of horrific flashbacks in college.
From the timeless “AM” broadcast of Arctic Monkeys through every teenager’s speakers to the massive and somewhat confusing hype surrounding American Apparel tennis skirts, 2014 has been a truly iconic year for Gen Z.
At the time, however, it didn’t look as pleasant as it looked back on.
Personally, I remember spending just about every angsty moment in the early 2010s anticipating the future. I fully embraced the soft grunge aesthetic of Tumblr, the apex obsessed with indie music, of course, but I can’t promise you I’ve been happier because of it.
I discovered that the college experience and the early teenage years tend to hold a universal sore spot in our life stories – something we’d rather forget than ever come close to reliving.
I was in seventh grade all those long, rough years ago, just in time for the massive influx of low contrast images of denim jackets and Doc Martens on my social media feeds, almost all captioned with pretentious quotes from John Green.
Internet angst matched the energy of my college-induced inner turmoil, and it was pretty beautiful.
In retrospect, the idealized simplicity of the minimalist aesthetic and listening to “Robbers” from The 1975 on repeat sounds great, but I think we can all agree that we would never want to relive those years.
I started to question my stance on this after seeing the Tumblr and Instagram trends of 2014 resurface on social media feeds over the past few months.
Recently, TikTok audios of popular alternative music from 2012 to 2014 started circulating on my For You page. At the same time, I noticed more and more ripped tights and monochrome outfits popping up on my feed as I browsed Instagram.
And somehow, without realizing it, I started to follow suit. I found myself revisiting all those golden bits of nostalgia.
All of a sudden, I was listening to Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” again for the first time in years. I reread “The Fault in Our Stars” in its entirety after barely thinking about it since seventh grade.
I even fell for it and, although I hate to admit it, I bought a black tennis skirt to pair with my Docs.
This was probably the moment when I fully realized that Tumblr 2014 was making its very unexpected and confusing return, and I was already on board.
I don’t think I’m the only Gen Z kid who can say that 2014 was one of the most painfully awkward and miserable years of my life, so I’m honestly still a little stunned that we’re going back to a semblance of it. of that. aesthetic.
But the more I’ve been forced to consider and tackle our current exhausting situation in 2021, it increasingly makes sense that Gen Z is already nostalgic for what happened seven years ago.
Looking back, of course, it was a simpler time – I’d much rather have to worry about matching an oversized flannel to my outfit rather than a mask.
As we all know, however, the hindsight is 20/20 and you can’t blame the younger generations for wanting to grow up earlier.
I feel like this odd version of “reject modernity, embrace tradition” is mostly shocking given the relatively recent period of the early 2010s, but I’m all for a fair amount of escape everywhere. where I can get it – even if it’s in something as simple as the Tumblr revival of the grunge era.
Emily Davison is a 19-year anthropology and English student from Denham Springs.