Retro Tech

Growing up, Bryan Rothman had always loved listening to music, but when he was between the ages of 14 and 15, he gained a new appreciation for the art of sound. While rummaging through his parents’ garage, he stumbled upon a collection of vinyl records that his mom had kept from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Now as a 23 year-old graduate of CSUN, Rothman has started a collection of his own, and though his is admittedly small compared to some others, he feels a special connection to the records that he has been able to pick up along the way.

“I think in an age where everything is so accessible online and you don’t really get to hold it in your hands, it’s nice to have something physical, if that makes any sense,” Rothman said. “It’s just great to hold something in your hand, especially something that you love.”

Similarly, Josh Pacheco, a photojournalism student at CSUN, began messing around with Polaroids about two or three years ago after seeing a poster board full of Polaroid pictures on a wall at his friend’s house.

“I kind of liked [Polaroids], but I didn't have one,” Pacheco said. “And then it was gifted to me, like my own Polaroid, by one of my friends, and then I saw that they had a board with Polaroids with dates on them and it was like, a full board. So I was like, 'Oh. I want to do that.'”

Both vinyl records and Polaroids went out of style in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when digital versions of each became the mainstream way to take pictures and listen to music.

But even those newer technologies became slightly more outdated with the invention of the modern smartphone in 2007, when the first iPhone went on the market -- complete with a music library and camera both pre-installed. Though the cameras on the first few smartphones were not exactly DSLR-like, they were still good enough for the on-the-go or irregular photographer to snap a few photos of something cool while enjoying their everyday lives.

But as technology became more advanced, smartphones have almost replaced cameras and audio players; with the iPhone XS containing dual 12-megapixel rear cameras that can shoot up to 60 frames per second and in 4K. It also has the internal storage capacity to hold over 15,000 songs on the 64 GB version, with the latest model going up to 512 GB.

With the advent of the smartphone and everything that comes with it, it isn’t hard to see why older technologies like vinyl records and instant cameras became obsolete. So why have they suddenly made a comeback?

Neither Rothman or Pacheco can quite remember exactly when these vintage technologies became more popular, only that it is a relatively new fad, especially among millennials.

But the real question is why, and answering that question invokes both similar and differing responses -- with the biggest difference being the price differences between the two hobbies.

Pacheco said that owning and operating an instant camera is much cheaper compared to a DSLR, which can range from $400 to $6,500 at your local Best Buy depending on the quality, and a Polaroid can go anywhere from $80 to $200. That is a huge price difference for someone that just wants to take some pictures for their collection, though the price is not something that Pacheco thinks is the biggest reason for Polaroids becoming popular again.

“Aesthetically it's a cute little camera that most people would like,” said Pacheco. “It's easy to carry around, and film is pretty cheap for the most part. And then, obviously, having a physical copy instantaneously, is the number one selling point.”

Vinyl records, on the other hand, are actually more expensive per record (a new album costs about $20) than simply subscribing to a streaming service like Spotify, which costs $9.99 per month for unlimited music on your phone, computer and/or tablet.

On top of the typically high prices for the records themselves, they also require a turntable to be played, which can range anywhere from $30 to over $800.

“It’s definitely an expensive hobby,” Rothman said, “so it’s definitely got to be an album that I really just want to have more than just saved on my phone.”

Of course, there are deals to be found on records, especially at thrift stores or donation centers like Goodwill.

“People usually donate records to Goodwill, and you can actually, every once in a while, you can find some stuff for like $2, which is pretty cool,” said Rothman.

The biggest factors for both Rothman, Pacheco and many other millennials getting these vintage technologies back into the mainstream, though, were the lasting feelings involved with owning an actual product, not just something stored on a hard drive, and the nostalgia that comes with using them.

“[Nostalgia is] exactly what it was [that got me into Polaroids] because as far as it having that vintage-y look, but also knowing this isn't something that's going to be held in a drive in my computer,” Pacheco said. “This is something that I have physically, so it's something I can hold on to, so that years later, I can look at it and be like, 'I still have that physical picture from that time.' And on top of that, it looks 10 times older than what it really was."

Rothman concurred, though he said that with records, there is another added advantage of owning a physical copy of an album.

“You can’t get a fucking iPhone signed,” Rothman explained. “I have a signed ‘Portugal the Man’ record on my wall from every member in the band and I could not do that if I didn’t own the fucking album … Maybe it will be worth money one day. I don’t know if it ever will be, but it’s valuable to me. I don’t even care. I’m not going to sell it.”


Youtube Beauty

Makeup as we know it has been around for many centuries, but as of recently, makeup has taken a drastic turn, from getting your makeup done at the salon, to doing it yourself by watching tutorials on the Internet.

        In the beginning, women and men would spend thousands of dollars to take courses in cosmetics, hair, and special FX makeup in order to get certified and become a makeup artist, but now, there’s YouTube. With tutorials makeup artists have produced on the site, it has saved many people time and a whole lot more money to get their makeup done.

        These tutorials are created by beauty influencers and (some) certified makeup artists such as Desi Perkins, Jaclyn Hill, and Teni Panosian just to name a few, where they create a look and talk through what techniques and products they’re using to create the look, as viewers watch and learn.

        Based on a survey taken in 2018 by YouTube, the average daily views of beauty videos has increased from 100,000 in 2014 to a little over one million in 2018.

        23- year-old Whitney Jarquin never did her makeup until she was an adult. “I started watching beauty tutorials around the age of 18. I did not wear makeup before then, so I learned most of my tricks on YouTube. I would always check YouTube videos on a product I was thinking of buying beforehand,” said Jarquin.

        YouTube has also become a new “career phenomenon” where influencers and makeup artists can make anywhere between $7.9k to over $100,000 a month, just by creating and uploading videos of makeup tutorials, unboxing PR packages, and rating beauty products.

        But Lilit Kaladjiyan, a certified makeup artist, says that it can become very competitive. “I feel like the whole world is a part of the YouTube beauty community, and it seems like it’s all a competition. I feel like the person’s YouTube will only succeed if their Instagram presence succeeds too,” said Lilit.

        Lilit received her makeup certification after six to seven weeks of courses at Makeup Designer (MUD). She worked on music video sets, created looks for the dancers and models, fashion shows and clubs. But that only lasted a short while.

        “I think it’s cool and helpful for those YouTubers to share their knowledge and techniques to their viewers,” said Lilit. “However, I don’t think YouTube will overtake all salons. I feel like there are still some old-school people who like to go into a salon and get their makeup done.”

        That may be true, but beauty YouTuber, Gayana Khachikian believes that YouTube isn’t going anywhere. “The beauty industry is bigger than it ever was, especially on YouTube. Before, beauty influencers would get scared to pick up a camera and just start, but now everyone wants to be a beauty influencer,” said Khachikian. “I honestly believe the YouTube beauty community is here to stay and it’s only going to get bigger and bigger. All of these influencers, including myself, are not only on YouTube but on Instagram, Twitter & other social networks as well.”

        I personally did not come to know YouTube and the tutorials it provided until I was about 17 years old and expressed a frustration to my mom about not knowing how to do my makeup when going on dates with my boyfriend. She suggested I learn by watching a tutorial on it, and so I did. I remember watching Teni Panosian’s video called, “Everyday Makeup Tutorial” just so that I could learn the basics. What both my mom and I didn’t know was that she tapped into an unknown passion of mine when suggesting watching YouTube tutorials, and ever since then, I became hooked. I then subscribed to over 20 influencers, watched tutorials during work, after work, during past time – anytime I could fit a 15-minute video in my day, I did.

        YouTube beauty has taught me everything I need to know about applying makeup, products, which brushes to use, etc. It even inspired me to start my own lifestyle and makeup blog so that I too can share the knowledge I have picked up along the way of my practice.

        YouTube has made such an impactful presence, and YouTubers like Gayana Khachikian hopes that everyone who wants to be a part of it will have their chance. “I would love to see big companies work with smaller influencers because I truly believe they deserve it. Some of these micro influencers work so much and don’t get the credit they deserve so they end up easily quitting. In the future, I hope we have a better beauty influencer support system to help those who try their hardest to keep going and never give up on themselves.”


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Instagram Therapy

As I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I found an endless number of pages that share vines, memes, clothing flat lays, tattoos, you name it. But I also discovered that apart from pages that share nudity and stupidity, Instagram is also home to artists and designers who want to inspire others.

Alyse Ruriani is a “maker of #mentalhealth things and an art therapist in training.” Through her Instagram page, @alyseruianidesign, she speaks to her followers about body positivity, eating disorders, social justice and most of all, mental health. She has published an interactive “self-help” book titled “What Now.”

The back cover of the book says it “translates therapeutic theories into cheeky and creative prompts to help you cope with anger, fear, and sadness.” Ruriani’s art is a detailed reminder that we are worthy simply because we are who we are. She created a “Mental Health Check-In” checklist where she asks her followers to share their mood, how they feel, what they are, and what they will.

Today I feel empty. I am strong. I will love myself eventually.

Ruriani also uses her art to congratulate readers for surviving. Her trophy award drawing reads, “You have SURVIVED every moment of your life.” She says one must celebrate ourselves for our “continuous survival.”

I am celebrating the idea of finding a reason to survive.

Becks, the creator of Journey to Wellness, creates diverse cartoons and illustrations of mental health and well being. Becks is a counselor and through her Instagram, @journey_to_wellness, and Patreon page, she hopes to continue encouraging others to become a Journey to Wellness Advocate. On her Instagram page, she communicates her message through captions that educates her audience. Becks suggests that her readers pick affirmations they can connect to and that have personal meaning.

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“I am brave. I am strong. I am capable. I am loved. I am enough. I am the best me.”

Becks talks about “mindfulness.” The practice of taking care of what is going on in that moment and having space for thinking and breathing.

“Mindfulness helps you cut through the noise in your head and live with purpose, balance, and wellness,” Becks writes.

Mindfulness is dreadful. I can't think and breathe.

“It okay just breathe and exhale slowly.” No, that’s not how it works. I hear voices that say things will never get better. Nothing is okay. Maybe I’ll find a purpose while I was the dishes.

What is self- care? Is it putting yourself first? Is it yoga? Is it meditating? Hannah Daisy is an occupational therapist, artist, illustrator, and mental health advocate. She started #boringselfcare on her Instagram page,@makedaisychains, to celebrate the seemingly unimportant, everyday things that we do, the minimal things we do that often go uncelebrated.

According to Daisy, self-care is not about buying stuff. Instead, self-care describes completing essential activities we need to survive such as washing, brushing your teeth, dressing and managing medical conditions.

On her blog, Daisy explains that the word boring goes beyond its typical connotations -- boring can be used to describe things that are difficult to do when one is unwell. To her, boring self-care can mean: being honest with yourself, managing public transportation, resting, emptying the trash, getting an eye test, having a cup of tea, saying something nice about your body and hanging out with people you don't like.

I rearranged my closet and finally did the laundry after two weeks, #boringselfcare.

Jayney Hardy, the author of “The Self-Care Project” and “365 Days of Self-Care: A Journal” is dedicated to teaching the “restorative power of self-care.” “The Self-Care Project” was created by Hardy to walk the reader through “the case for self-care” and its importance. It is also meant to help explore what self-care means and “provide advice on how to chisel out daily space for self-care in a practical, achievable and realistic way.  According to the book’s description,“365 Days of Self-Care” was created to help people manage obstacles and “prioritize the things that are truly important to us.”

Hardy is also the creator of  The Blurt Foundation which is “dedicated to helping those with depression.”  Although it is an Instagram page, @theblurtfoundation primarily shares the art of various artists.  Beyond the page, the foundation itself works with medical practitioners, schools, and employers to help them understand depression.

Hardy’s personal Instagram (@jayneyhardy_) is dedicated to sharing both the art and words of others and herself. She has also given a Ted Talk on “What You Don't See About Depression.” She described her struggles, what she did in order to survive her struggles, and what she is doing now to help others survive. In her Ted Talk, Hardy said The Blurt Foundation was created to be a conversation starter and to make a difference for anyone affected by depression.

“I feel weak, ashamed and alone and unworthy, hopeless and helpless,” said Hardy in her Ted Talk.

I thought it was me speaking to myself.

In April 2016, The Blurt Foundation began a campaign on Twitter, #whatyoudontsee. After being featured in multiple publications, the hashtag reached three-quarters of a million people. To this day, the hashtag is still used by Twitter users.

“Search out those people. Share your secrets. Allow them to tell your story in their words, as you one day you may do for others too,” said Hardy.

Monday, February 18, I admitted I was struggling. I admitted I wasn't okay. I admitted I wasn't strong. Throughout that week, I was finding constant inspirational drawings on my Instagram explore tab. I kept scrolling, Scrolling. Scrolling.

Tuesday, February 26, I felt ok. The thoughts of ever having to find a therapist that will listen to me vanished. Scrolling. Scrolling.

“ I am recovery focused yet I am aware of the part which is scared and wants to self destruct.”- @makedaisychains

Meet my therapist. I don't know her but she came from Instagram.