What is it about faded tone curves and color shifts that generates such nostalgia? Is it only those of us who grew up on film who feel so strongly about these "vintage" effects? Why does degrading image quality cause a stronger emotional response to a photograph among some viewers?
I think the answer is partly that for those of us who grew up shooting film and looking at faded photographs, these effects borrow from the authenticity and age inherent in photographs that acquired a similar patina naturally. I also think part of the answer is that the literal shape and detail of things is poorly preserved in memory and that an absolutely perfect digital rendering of a photograph overwhelms the memory with the literal, with the real.
A bit of shift in the color channels, a little shoulder on the bottom of the tone curve to turn blacks to grays, these things reduce the impact of high frequency information in the image and focus our eyes instead on the low frequency information: the shape of the sea stacks, the gradient in the sky.
We're free to remember as imperfectly as we like even the most perfect of days. It's the artistic license that faded photographs grant the memory that makes them such powerful tools.