Trends come and go, and then come right back again


All I had to do was pick up a package that had been left at the wrong door.

I knocked. My neighbor let me in. Nothing felt out of the ordinary.
But then it happened. It was like raindrops hitting a tin roof, but it wasn’t raining, and we weren’t under a tin roof.

I followed the sound, and set my sights on something that hasn’t been in front of my eyes for at least a couple decades. It was a typewriter. An electric one, to be exact. An Olympia Compact S — one of the last typewriter models offered by a storied German manufacturer that lost the battle with computers and word processors.

Finding a typewriter nowadays requires a trip to a museum. But there are still many out in circulation — you just have to know where to look.

So it wasn’t necessarily the typewriter that surprised me, but who was using it: my neighbor’s teenaged daughter.

“Oh, don’t mind her,” my neighbor said. “She’s always on that typewriter.”

“But … but, why?” I asked.

“The sounds it makes are relaxing. And it reminds her of her grandfather.”

The young woman was composing a poem using paper from the printer. The ink of each letter was quite uneven, showing not only the antiquity of the machine in front of her, but also how spoiled we’ve become with laser printers and high-resolution screens.

I thought my neighbor’s daughter was unique in this love for typewriters, but apparently that’s not the case. Young people — especially in the so-called Gen Z — are rediscovering a number of relics from the past like typewriters, enjoying their simplicity, with maybe even a hint of nostalgia for a previous life, perhaps.

Exploring this new fondness for typewriters online has helped me discover some interesting feedback. There are no ads or messages popping up on the paper while you type, meaning you can focus on what you’re creating. It also creates a sense of permanence a computer or smartphone can’t. And it can’t be hacked.

Typewriters, of course, aren’t the only things making a comeback. Vinyl records and Polaroid cameras have already made returns. So have flip phones. And, believe it or not, even pocket pagers.

All of these treasures should have been lost to time, but they weren’t. Yes, they had been replaced by something better and faster — but all of these artifacts were more than just tools. They helped define us in some way.

And that gives me real hope for other aspects of society that some might try to write off, like something near and dear to my own heart: newspapers. A few weeks back, a popular social media content creator named Kelsey Russell visited our newsroom. She has made a name for herself on TikTok by championing newspapers to her generation.

Can you pull up news on your phone or computer? Sure. But once you swipe it away, it’s gone. Newspapers, however, can’t be swiped away. And they won’t be.

As we become more and more fixated on our electronic devices, we’re going to find ourselves longing for time away from all that. Without the distractions. Without the noise created by the intrusion of others. Without the glowing screen.

Books. Cameras using actual photographic paper. Phones that don’t do much more than call someone. Typewriters. And, yes, newspapers.

All of these will maintain places in our society, and that’s good. But please don’t call them antique. Many of us have indeed made many trips around the sun, but we don’t need the reminder.

And finally, you might think finding my young neighbor clickety-clacking away on a typewriter might inspire me to write these words on something similar. It certainly would be poetic in its own right.

But my MacBook Air is doing perfectly fine. I already lived through the times when typewriters were a necessary tool, not a novelty. Give me another decade or two before I’m ready to relive that, thank you very much.

Michael Hinman is executive editor of Herald Community Newspapers. Comments?