Retrostalgia

by Jin, 11-20-08 // 5 comments

Google released thirty custom themes for Gmail yesterday. Finally, I have something else to choose from besides the boring blue and white look I was stuck with for years. After playing with them for a few minutes, I set my mine to the “Terminal” theme.

Terminal theme as its name implies, makes Gmail look like the DOS prompt. I instantly fell in love with this theme and I can’t explain why. Well I sort of can, because of the geek in me. It reminded of my freshmen year in high school, when my parents bought me my first computer, after much begging, bribing, and threatening. It was an IBM compatible 386mhz beast with 4 mb of RAM, 120mb hard drive.

I spent all my free time starring at its pretty black screen and green text. I mastered the art of memmaker and had different sets of autoexec.bat and config.sys files for different programs. By programs, I mean games, a lot of games. Of course, it was more than a gaming machine. I typed my first school paper on it, made my very first graphic, logged onto my first BBS etc.

Back to the Terminal theme. After using it for five minutes, I couldn’t stand it. Nostalgia wore off quickly and my eyes started watering. Also a command prompt interface that allows mouse clicking felt very odd to me.

I don’t think I ever missed the black screen + green text screen. What I truly miss, is my high school years. It was a simpler time when I didn’t have to worry about mortgage, bills, kids, insurance etc. Isn’t that what nostalgia really is? It’s rarely about an object, but what that object is associated with. We always have a place in our hearts for things that are retro. Like how cars become boxy, then round, then boxy again; How a mother insists that her daughter wears her old wedding dress; How we love Polaroid photos, especially now it’s discontinued; How we buy our children toys we used to play when we were kids. Perhaps being nostalgic is a way to provide some comfort when we weave through an increasingly hectic life.

I went back to the “Classic” theme.

5 comments

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Victor 11-21-08

Very insightful on why we love nostalgia. It’s not about the things, it’s about the feelings we try to get back and the emotions of a simpler time. Never do we feel in the moment what we think we felt years later.

Good post Jin. My how you’ve grown young grasshopper.

Victor

Kris 11-21-08

For a second, I felt the same flutter in my heart when I saw the terminal theme. Then I applied it and immediately my eyes popped. Literally. I had to have them replaced. As cool as some of the themes are, I still prefer gmail redesigned by Globex Designs.

Janko 11-21-08

Huh, my first computer was PC AT 286 that worked on 16Mhz (in turbo mode) or 8 Mhz normally. It had 520MB of RAM and 20MB Seagate hard disk and guess what – 5.25″ floppy!

You are right, this is something that I won’t miss, but those days…. ahhh.

Jin 11-21-08

@Victor, you are part of my nostalgia! Good times.

@Kris, that theme is pretty nice!

@Janko, 520mb of ram?? is that a typo? :) i remember 1mb of ram upgrade cost about $100usd in the early 90s. oh yeah I still have boxes of 5.25″ disks. One day I’ll make a wall art out of them, and tell the kids the good old days where we had to program up the hill in the snow, both ways.

Janko 11-21-08

Jin, my mistake, it was 512 kilobytes of RAM :) Ah, I was so lazy to keep them all.