In a somewhat modern 2015 article, a New York Times article bemoaned the rebirth in enthusiasm for an old analog relic that maybe only a select few have nostalgia for: the cassette tape.

Trendy, analog, and hearkening back to everyones youthful memories, the article describes them and their rewinding/fast-forwarding/sides as painfully slow and inconvenient, that they are an unreliable physical medium, and finally  bemoaned the walkman and how it introduced isolation into entertainment.

Instead of thinking about many of those aspects as negatives, they could be thought of instead as charming anachronisms that lend the medium a flavor and experience missing in the modern era.

The isolation that they introduced, firstly, allowed us to experience music for its real substance instead of the social aspect of it, to let music guide our minds instead of the others around us, and for that we should be thankful for the walkman.

Secondly, the unreliability of the plastic cassettes and thin tape to some extent forced us to treasure the music we loved because of its impermanence. Instead, we have to embrace the fragility of the medium, along with the ingenuity required to keep old cassettes and the players functioning.

Lastly, the inconvenience of the format, long rewinds and fast forwards, its sides, and the fact that one cassette is just a single album all mean that instead of the instant gratification that is granted in modern platforms, we are at the mercy of the artist, forced to listen to an album as a full collection, even through songs we might have otherwise never given a chance. It gives us more content, scope, and range to process, and more even more joy when we finally reach the songs we do love, along with the silence delivered in the process of flipping sides, changing cassettes, or rewinding, as opposed to the constant-on nature of any other media.

Maybe the format is not even remotely practical for morning jogs, for the MRT, or for raw entertainment. But for long drives, thoughtful afternoons, or trying to understand the art of the analog representation of the original analog recording, as opposed to a digitized imitation of those sounds, cassettes offer a cheap and still relatively ubiquitous trip to the source.