The Nokia 3310 is coming back. Why are we so obsessed with old stuff?

From bikes to record players to eating. Our obsession with vintage is limitless (almost)

Noughties teens rejoice! Your heyday is back. No more Snapchatting, WhatsApping or Instagram story-ing. The Nokia 3310 laughs in the face of your GPS, your front-facing camera – your camera at all. Who needs Candy Crush when you’ve got Snake back, or emojis when you’ve got pressing-every-key-one-zillion-time-to-send-a-text? We get a battery that lasts a week, and ringtones!

But why when you can have a phone that does absolutely everything and is probably cleverer than you are, would you want one that just does two things (phone calls and texts)? From bikes to record players to eating like an actual caveman, our obsession with all things old is stronger than ever. We look at five reasons people are abandoning ‘progress’ for the good old days.

"They just don't make things like they used to..."

Nokia 3310 indestructable

The Nokia 3310 is indestructible, apparently – I’m calling bullshit on this by the way, my original Nokia 3310 – pink case, thanks for asking – took a turn in the washing machine and did not survive.

But anyway, people are just fed up of smartphones (and pretty much all electronic objects) breaking all the time. In fact, some people think that manufacturers purposefully plan things to break after a few years, so you’ll keep wanting to buy the latest model – it’s called planned obsolescence. Not like in the old days, when things were built to last.

"Things just looked better back then..."


Okay, so the trusty 3310 isn’t exactly an icon of modern design. But fairly often, we don’t seem to want the thing that looks shiny and new – think vintage bikes, vintage clothes, a replica Crosley record player gathering dust on your mid-century sideboard… you get the picture. So much of our obsession with vintage seems to have something to do with liking the look of something that’s got a bit of history to it.

Things that were designed to just be useful – like a bicycle – now just seem really really cool. And so much of what we think looks cool comes from our desire to fit into a certain tribe – a man with a beard on a bike is just a man with a beard on a bike. A man with a beard on a vintage bike = hipster.

"Look how quirky I am..."


For some, it goes one step further than really loving shabby-chic, or a nostalgia for products of the past. Remember that guy writing poems on a typewriter in a park and selling them to people, just because?

The AWL typewriter
Image via the (

Or those ridiculously brightly colored retro handsets for iPhones a few years back? The really quirky vintage stuff that isn’t any more useful, or better quality, than the stuff we’ve built since then is literally just there to break the mold. You’re making a point, just by using them, that you’re so not into the norms of the modern world – because like, fuck the system.

"I'm being tracked by the NSA..."


Aren’t we all. Kind of for the same reason that a drug dealer would used a “burner” or an unregistered SIM on a cheap phone – but without the dealing of drugs or anything. People are concerned about the amount of data our phones can collect on us. Things like location tracking, for example. Apple insists it’s only for your benefit, but privacy is turning into a big issue – recent big court cases about whether phone companies can turn over your data to the government have almost overwhelmingly gone in the government’s favor, and most countries are working on pretty big new privacy laws. And unless Nokia can somehow log and sell your Snake high scores, you might just be OK with the 3310.

"I'm going on a digital detox..."


Digital addiction is definitely a real thing – just think about the first thing you look at when you wake up in the morning, and the last thing you look at before you go to sleep. Digital detoxes are the new spa weekends – a whole new holiday industry has sprung up with the sole purpose of locking you in a room and turning off your phone. Whether it’s work emails or an obsession with your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s second cousin’s Instagram. Sometimes it might be healthy to just learn to switch off… or just eliminate the temptation completely – and stay up all night playing Snake instead.

Ellie Clayton is editor at Economy

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