From the Raleigh News & Observer, students going back to school seems to be reason enough for journalists to point out that I’m getting old. Today, they discuss the incoming freshman class:
They never watched Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.”
They haven’t seen Pete Rose play baseball.
And the Berlin Wall, to them, only existed in history books.
Members of the college class of 2011 — the freshmen who poured onto [Triangle] campuses in recent weeks — have cultural touchstones that differ greatly from those of their parents, professors and older peers.
Beloit College in Wisconsin just released its 10th annual “Mindset List” to offer insights into the new freshman class. The list, the creation of Beloit humanties professor Tom McBride and public affairs director Ron Nief, always makes for interesting reading. (Warning: It also may make you feel really old.)
Here are some selections about this year’s class members, most of whom were born in 1989. In their lifetimes:
1. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
2. Rush Limbaugh has always been lambasting liberals.
3. They have grown up with bottled water.
4. Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
5. Rap music has always been mainstream.
6. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
7. Russia has always had a multiparty political system.
8. Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.
9. They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.
10. The NBA season has always gone on and on and on and on.
11. Eastern Airlines has never “earned their wings” in their lifetime.
12. No one has ever been able to sit down comfortably to a meal of “liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
13. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
14. Being “lame” has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.
15. Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.
16. Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
17. They grew up in Wayne’s World.
18. They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as “The Joker.”
19. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
20. On Parents’ Day on campus, their folks could be mixing it up with Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz and their daughter, Zoe, or Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford and their son, Cody.
21. Fox has always been a major network.
22. They drove their parents crazy with the Beavis and Butt-head laugh.
23. Women’s studies majors have always been offered on campus.
24. They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
25. High definition television has always been available.
26. Microbreweries have always been ubiquitous.
27. Time has always worked with Warner.
28. Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.
29. The purchase of ivory has always been banned.
30. MTV has never featured music videos.
31. The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.
32. Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
33. Jerry Springer has always been lowering the level of discourse on TV.
34. Half of them may have been members of the Baby-sitters Club.
35. Dilbert has always been ridiculing cubicle culture.