Netflix's Stranger Things continues to be one of the most popular shows on the streaming service. According to its calculations, over 40 million viewers tuned into over the July 4 weekend when Season 3 premiered. Those kinds of numbers also suggest the popularity is across the board, with everyone from ages 13 to 93 tuning in to see the latest exploits of the kids in Hawkins, Indiana. But that age difference can sometimes lead to confusion, as these tweets about the darkroom in Stranger Things show.
Fans of the series have known since the show's early days that Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), the older brother of Will Byers, is an artist. He loves comic books, music, writing, and above all, his camera. But the series is set in the early 1980s, decades before smartphones put a camera in every single pocket, with the ability to process photos in nanoseconds. Jonathan's shutterbug habit means he carries around an extra piece of equipment with him at all times.
Moreover, to develop the photos requires a specialized workroom, known as a "darkroom." Using a darkroom is necessary, so the light-sensitive photographic paper isn't blown out as the image develops.
Stranger Things has been showing Jonathan's photo process in darkrooms since the show first debuted back in 2016. But, this season (for some reason), it caught the attention of younger viewers, who find the process confusing.
This led to a question about how darkrooms work, much to the horror of older viewers, for whom this process used to be the only way photographs could be created. On StackExchange, one user asked if there was a name for it:
In Stranger Things, we frequently see Jonathan go inside this to ‘refine’ his photos or something. I don’t quite understand what happens here,” the user wrote. “He puts the photo in water, and somehow this makes it more clear? An example is in the first season when he refines Barbara’s photo and sees a little bit of the Demogorgon. Is this an old film technique, and if so, what is it called?
The question didn't take long to reach Twitter:
The post almost immediately went viral on Twitter, with many responding to how old it made them feel.
But not everyone on Twitter was ready to accept this was real. Some made fun of the question and demanded an explanation of other items.
Other just straight-up insisted that there was no way young people didn't know what a darkroom was. After all, photography classes still use them in schools.
Others accused the questioner of trolling the internet. If so, the questioner succeeded handily, both in getting everyone's attention and in making them feel old at the same time.
But real or not, it's a reminder of how much technology has changed. What seems like a completely normal thing for one age group can seem like a mystical ritual to another.
Even if this post was a joke, the divide is real. And it will only become more exponential as the 2020s roll in.