If you’re a music lover, Justin Ang suggests that a trip down memory lane with some old-tech Vinyl LPs might be just what you need… Apple Music. Spotify. YouTube Music. Tidal. They’re just some of the music streaming services available today. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to digital streaming. Not to mention the convenience of putting together all your favourite songs into a playlist on your smartphone.

But in the age of digital streaming and instant access to music, there’s something nostalgic about the crackle of a needle hitting a vinyl LP. As a 30-something year old, my friends give me weird looks when I tell them I’ve bought myself a turntable (a Pro-Ject one in case you’re wondering. It’s white.

My wife loves it). “Why would you want to purchase a spinning table?!” as one friend puts it. “Don’t you want more convenience and not less?” My dad thinks I’m a little strange to get into vinyl when he’s thrown out his own vinyl collection. Not to mention the cost. “A black hole of money,” as someone close to me said, laughing.

Certainly, building up a vinyl collection is not cheap. I’m only starting out but I can tell you that I’ve already spent more on vinyl LPs than a year’s subscription to a music streaming service. (Here’s what I’ve purchased: Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, Sonny Clark - Dial “S” for Sonny, Daft Punk - Alive 2007 and Taylor Swift - 1989, Taylor’s version, of course. Please don’t judge me!) But there’s something truly magical about listening to vinyl. Maybe it’s the experience of taking a vinyl out of its slip case, carefully placing it on the turntable  and lowering the tonearm. That’s entrancing.

The anticipation as you watch the needle move slowly towards the grooves and the first sounds of music coming through the speakers... I’m not sure whether physical grooves in pressed vinyl actually sound better than digital recordings. But as YouTuber DankPods puts it, “It’s not about sound quality, it’s about vibe quality.” He says that in our world we can be burdened by choice. The moment that we get bored, we switch. Constantly.

I agree with him. Changing tracks takes time and effort, which forces me to listen to an album from beginning to end. I’m forced to slow down and experience the music. I’m less tempted to multitask when an album is playing on my turntable. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy my music streaming subscription. (It’s not like I can travel with my turntable).

But as Robert Hassan, Professor of Media and Communication at the University of Melbourne, argues in his book Analog, it’s “not the actual technology that matters so much as the relationship to it.” The feel, the perceived authenticity and the lack of precision of analog technology like vinyl records connects us to the material world. He says, “Why would you buy a horribly expensive vinyl copy of the Beatles’ White Album for $150 when you can stream it whenever you want, for almost nothing?

Yet people do. They do because it fulfills something more than an empty consumer urge. They do it because The White Album or the LAMY fountain pen and the Schaeffer bottle of ink and the optional piston converters and rubber bladders that we buy even when there is no objective need for them any longer are material things that connect us to the material world and ultimately to nature and to the cosmos of which they and we are a part.”

It’s true. There’s no need for me to invest my time and money into a vinyl record collection. And yet, I do. I feel drawn to it because listening to a record on vinyl reminds me that as a human I am grounded in time and space. It’s probably why I’m attracted to other analog activities like journaling with a fountain pen and paper, or why I enjoy pour-over coffee. These activities remind me that I am an embodied creature. Not just a brain on legs. But a whole person. Mind, body and soul, integrated together. I can’t upload my consciousness to the internet and multitask.

In other words, it makes me realise that I cannot do everything I want in my life because my life is limited. I don’t need to be busier; I don’t need to be more frenetic; I don’t need to chase after the ever-elusive wind. What I do need to do is to slow down. Eliminate hurry from my life. And focus on what’s important.

It’s what Oliver Burkeman argues for in his book Four Thousand Weeks. He argues that 4,000 weeks is the average number of weeks we live. A terribly short amount of time. But when you realise how short life is, he says, we learn to accept there will always be too much to do, and therefore we will learn to “focus on doing a few things that count.” I think that’s what my vinyl collection reminds me of every time I listen to it. Life is short. Remember the things that are important.