Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Differing Mindsets

Ever received that email forward giving a list of cultural references for incoming college students?  The one that immediately makes you feel old and decrepit because it shows just how different these young 'uns are?  How different their lives have been.  They have drastically different assumptions, worries, obsessions, shock levels and jokes.

Well, apparently the original list has a pedigree; it's based in academia.  Who knew?  The Beloit College Mindset List has been put out by two officials there for the past twelve years, designed to alert faculty there to their students' cultural touchstones and help them avoid dated references.  We've all been there.  You make a joke, reference somebody famous, give a funny tagline and... the silence has crickets, it's so loud!

Anyway, the new list has just been put out for the incoming class of 2014.  !!!  It's certainly interesting, but actually the points it makes are so far beyond my own cultural touchstones that it loses some of it's impact.  So I checked back on the list, to the very first list for the class of 2002.  Now THAT made an impact! 

Read on and let me know if it's as disorienting for you as it was for me. 
  1. The people starting college this fall [1998] across the nation were born in 1980.
  2. They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era, and did not know he had ever been shot.
  3. They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.
  4. Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.
  5. There has only been one Pope. They can only remember one other president.
  6. They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart, and do not remember the Cold War.
  7. They have never feared a nuclear war. "The Day After" is a pill to them, not a movie.
  8. They are too young to remember the Space Shuttle Challenger blowing up.
  9. Their lifetime has always included AIDS.
  10. They never had a polio shot, and likely, do not know what it is.
  11. Bottle caps have not always been screw off, but have always been plastic. They have no idea what a pull top can looks like.
  12. Atari pre-dates them, as do vinyl albums.
  13. The expression "you sound like a broken record" means nothing to them.
  14. They have never owned a record player.
  15. They have likely never played Pac Man, and have never heard of "Pong."
  16. Star Wars looks very fake to them, and the special effects are pathetic.
  17. There have always been red M&Ms, and blue ones are not new. What do you mean there used to be beige ones?
  18. They may never have heard of an 8-track, and chances are they've never heard or seen one.
  19. The compact disc was introduced when they were one year old.
  20. As far as they know, stamps have always cost about 32 cents.
  21. They have always had an answering machine.
  22. Most have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels, nor have they seen a black & white TV.
  23. They have always had cable.
  24. There have always been VCRs, but they have no idea what Beta is.
  25. They cannot fathom what it was like not having a remote control.
  26. They were born the year Walkmen were introduced by Sony.
  27. Roller-skating has always meant in-line for them.
  28. "The Tonight Show" has always been with Jay Leno.
  29. They have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool.
  30. Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.
  31. They have never seen Larry Bird play, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a football player.
  32. They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.
  33. The Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as WWI and WWII or even the Civil War.
  34. They have no idea that Americans were ever held hostage in Iran.
  35. They can't imagine what hard contact lenses are.
  36. They don't know who Mork was, or where he was from.
  37. They never heard the terms "Where's the Beef?", "I'd walk a mile for a Camel" or "De plane, de plane!"
  38. They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who J.R. is.
  39. The Titanic was found? I thought we always knew where it was.
  40. Michael Jackson has always been white.
  41. Kansas, Boston, Chicago, America, and Alabama are all places, not music groups.
  42. McDonald's never came in Styrofoam containers.
  43. There has always been MTV, and it has always included non-musical shows.


Beth said...

LOL - I WAS the class of 2002!

Sirmelja said...

LOL It's taken me awhile, but I still don't know what to say to that, Beth! All my comments just come back to, "Crap, I'm old!" :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sirmelja,

I'm a Jamaican living in Canada. Just happened upon your blog while eating lunch. I admire your sense of adventure and how you're trying to be true to yourself. I'll be 49 in a few weeks and have begun to yearn for a new shot in the arm myself. I have a friend from Cork who lives in the US now. I'll continue to check out your blog.
Have a great day.


Amy said...

I'm only five years older than this class and at least I got all the references, and most are meaningful! We've been hanging out with an American who's a bit younger than this list and it's funny the references that draw a blank, especially for movies.