The retrograde is controlling our lives

photo via West Side Story

photo via West Side Story

In the episode “Back from the Future,” (season one episode 11) of Disney XD’s “Lab Rats,” the main characters crack the code to time travel. Bree Davenport, one of the lab rats, immediately asks to “jump to 2025 and see what people are wearing [so she can] start early and be a trend-setter.” She is promptly told no. Her response? “Oh, fine. But if I end up wearing mom jeans and hair scrunchies, you are gonna get back in that thing and fix it.”

It’s now 2020. Look to your left and right—I guarantee you see at least one scrunchie. And, if you’re a girl, I bet you own at least one pair of mom jeans. Bree Davenport must be pretty angry. Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about “Lab Rats” this whole time. Still, this coincidence is a prime example of a phenomenon people call “The Retrograde.” 

Now, what is it? Retrograde describes the apparent motion of a planet in a direction opposite to the rest of the solar system. Thus, other planets are perceived to be moving backwards. This term is also applied when trends seem to repeat themselves— when our lives seem to be moving backwards. 

Those of us who value fashion are aware that trends almost always come back. I could go through my mom’s closet, wear some of her old clothes and be the trendiest girl in school. That jacket I used to make fun of my mom for wearing was on this year’s Christmas list. So many aspects of our lives are on a seemingly neverending record, only reappearing under a new name. 

To fully grasp the concept of  retrograde, we must first look at two of the biggest platforms of 2019: VSCO and TikTok. These two apps took over the year. Everyone was talking about “VSCO girls” and doing TikTok dances everywhere they went. VSCO was filled with artsy pictures and inspirational quotes. TikTok allowed users to publish hilarious 60-second videos. Sound familiar? 

In 2007, a new website was first introduced to the public; within two weeks, the novel platform Tumblr gained 75,000 users. Tumblr allowed users to retain total control over a blog of mixed media posts. It developed into a phenomenon. The word “Tumblr” became a synonym for anything artsy, from people and pictures to poems and inspirational quotes. Girls strived to be “tumblr,” much like 2019’s trend of “VSCO girls.” Both were soon used to describe a personality type. 

The parallels between these platforms speak for themselves. They are practically the same app, 12 years apart, branded in a new format. That’s one prime example of retrograde. For another, let’s travel to 2013.

In 2013, Vine launched and instantly blew up. Within weeks it became the most downloaded video-sharing app and within months it had over 200 million active accounts. Users could post six-second clips, which soon became some of the funniest content on the internet. Many are still frequently quoted. 

Vines blew up. People were becoming “famous” left and right, until it shut down in 2017 due to financial reasons. Everyone was devastated. 

Luckily, a new app was in the making: TikTok. TikTok was released in late 2016, but it did not grow in popularity until late 2018. One year and 500 million accounts later, people are obsessed. Once again, users can upload videos of whatever they desire, whether it’s dances, storytimes or the most random ideas a person can think of. TikTok is the reincarnation of Vine. 

Still don’t believe me? Let’s look at the most popular music artist of 2010, Lady Gaga. In 2019, Lady Gaga came in third. In the 1970s, Polaroid cameras were all the rage. Now, numerous apps edit pictures in the same iconic format. 

History repeats itself and so do our lives. With everything repeating, society seems to be moving backwards. We are living in a retrograde.