Will Seippel | April 7, 2023

woman in virtual reality headset
Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality distract us from authentic experiences.
Image: Shutterstock

I’ll bet you know someone who has trouble unplugging. They’re tethered to their phones, lost in the digital ether. Until they get a new notification, then they will tap the text message and thumb-type until the transmission ends. Then, they’re back to scrolling.

I suppose that’s the era we are in. Everything we see is being digitized: music, art, business, medicine, publishing, and film. Our analog world—the world of light and sound waves—is being transformed into digital formats. We have artificial intelligence to think for us, ChatGPT to talk to us, and self-driving cars to get us to the grocery store. If that’s not enough, we don virtual reality headsets to step into computer games.

Our lives are becoming increasingly dominated by digital technology, and as a result, we are increasingly drawn to analog technology. Film cameras, vinyl records, and print books are all experiencing a resurgence in popularity. It’s easy to brush this off as nostalgia or a fad. But, if you look further, you will see that the trend exposes some fundamental truths concerning technology and our relationship with it.

Escape to Analog

In his book, The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World, author David Sax maintains that COVID’s forced sheltering-in-place and online focus left us craving real experiences, relationships, and spaces. He suggests that we slow down, engage in conversations, and develop offline interests.

But it takes effort to escape our digital purgatory. Escape must be a conscious choice, and we must stand firm until disconnecting becomes a habit. Some of us have turned to analog devices to evade the addictive nature of our digitally dominated world. From vinyl records to film cameras, the old-school charm of an analog device unplugs us from digital limbo and forces us to pay attention. We must read a book, play a record, or take a picture with a film camera. In other words, we must see beyond a five-inch screen and hear a broad auditory spectrum. The analog world demands that we experience it by using all our senses.

record player
Digital music can’t compare to this analog record player.
Image: Shutterstock

How to Enjoy the Analog Experience

1. Slow down and savor the moment. With analog technology, there is no need to hurry. Take your time and enjoy the experience.

2. Be present. When you’re using analog technology, be present in the moment. Put away your phone and other distractions and focus on what you’re doing.

3. Connect with others. Analog experiences are often more social than digital ones. Take advantage of this by connecting with the people around you.

4. Disconnect from the world. One of the best things about analog experiences is that they can help you disconnect from the constant barrage of information that comes with living in a digital world. Use this opportunity to clear your mind and relax.

So, unplug, relax, and tune in. Rediscover the joy of analog technology. In this age of digital overload, sometimes it’s nice to go old-school.

Will Seippel is the CEO and founder of WorthPoint®, the world’s largest provider of information about art, antiques, and collectibles. An Inc. 500 Company, WorthPoint is used by individuals and organizations seeking credible valuations on everything from cameras to coins. WorthPoint counts the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and the IRS among its clients.