It’s 2022, and 2014 is back. While Penn students will most likely look at the early 2010s with embarrassment (after all, these were our middle school years), the world seems to be nostalgic for the days of Tumblr, when the Arctic Monkeys were in and walking around in black ripped skinny jeans or a Peter Pan–collared dress was the ultimate fashion statement.
For some inexplicable reason, social media is exploding with these trends once again. Yet this time around, Instagram posts and YouTube vlogs are replaced by TikTok videos. Mostly set to She & Him’s “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?,” creators are donning long hair with bangs, flowy A–line dresses, colorful coats, and cross–body bags, all in reference to the 2014 Twee trend. Others are going back to their grungy Tumblr days, with combat boots, dark graphic tees, and over–the–knee socks.
It seems that just yesterday, the ’70s were trending: Patterned bell–bottoms, crocheted tops, bandanas, and clogs were the go–to look for summer and fall. Tons of people are still rocking the Y2K looks that dominated much of 2020 and 2021, with the reemergence of baby tees and low–waisted jeans to flip–phones and Bennifer. Before the 2000s were in, it was the ’80s and ’90s. Eras in fashion and other aspects of pop culture seem to be trending—and going out of style—faster than ever.
Within the context of the ever–expanding landscape of technology and social media, it makes sense that these waves are rising and falling at a speed that hasn’t been seen before. It only takes weeks, even days, for trends such as Twee to reach everyone’s radar. And then, as we are inundated with content—overloaded by videos set to She & Him songs—throughout the next few months, we tire quite quickly of what was once a new and exciting form of nostalgia.
It seems that with this quickening cycle of trend turnover, we have almost run out of eras to be nostalgic for. It hasn’t even been ten years since the original Twee and Tumblr trend, yet it is already back in style. Many of the TikToks about the era concentrate more on the types of clothing people wore in the past, yet many others are avidly looking forward to bringing some of their favorite looks back. But despite these different focuses, the revival of Twee asks the question: Why are so many of us nostalgic for 2014?
When we’re going through hard times, we often look back with love at when things were better, wishing that everything could go back to the way it was. Historical nostalgia, or thinking about a different era in time, often is triggered by dissatisfaction with the present. With the country now entering yet another winter of isolation, disease, and financial trouble caused by the COVID–19 pandemic, it makes complete sense that many are feeling nostalgic.
2014 certainly was not perfect. While there may be enough distance to feel nostalgic for the Twee and Tumblr era, this year was simultaneously recent enough to recognize it for its epic lows. Compared to the rose–colored lenses we use to romanticize the fun clothing and lifestyles of eras that more typically trend, such as the 1950s or 1970s, the thought of 2014 is still tinged with memories of toxic internet culture and unhealthy body image. But in 2022, 2014 seems like a time when things were simpler—when our worries were not about deciding whether or not to visit relatives during a pandemic or how to correctly double–mask.