HEY, NINETEEN

October 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

I was talking with a young lawyer the other day and he asked when the MRCP went into effect. I told him how the rules were announced in 1981 and put into effect in 1983.  He laughed and said “I wasn’t even born then.”  Of course, I reacted with aplomb, I think, but after he left I had to tap figures into a calculator to believe it, and, yes, the little sapsucker was right. Dadgum.

Nowadays I have to ask my wife who someone is on tv, or who some comedian is referring to when he makes a joke.  Being born in the first half of the last century will do that for you, I guess.

If you want to get a handle on just how great is the disconnect between the understanding and life experiences of a 60-year-old (or 40 for that matter) and a 20-year-old, you need to ckeck out Beloit College’s Mindset List, an annual survey it publishes showing the many things that this year’s freshman college class has no clue about because they were born so recently. 

Here are some excerpts from this year’s list.  From a lawyer’s standpoint, it’s nice to know how irrelevant you’re becoming, so when you go to preaching to your 20-something-year-old client, you can realize just how little you’re communicating.  Here are a couple of things the Beloit site tells us …

“The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since “digital” has always been in the cultural DNA, they’ve never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat. 

Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them.  A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.”

Back in the 1970’s, Steely Dan sang about this very phenomenon in Hey, Nineteen, a lament about a 20-something guy who could not communicate with his date because she was, alas, too young to remember Aretha Franklin.  (If you need to know who Steely Dan or Aretha Franklin are, drop by my office and I will tell you through clenched teeth).  Here’s more beyond Aretha that today’s entering freshmen don’t have in their life experience set …   

Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.

For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL [from 2001 A Space Odyssey] could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.

Entering college this fall in a country where a quarter of young people under 18 have at least one immigrant parent, they aren’t afraid of immigration…unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.

John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.

Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

 Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.

Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.

Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.

Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.

Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.

Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.

Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.

“Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.

Czechoslovakia has never existed.

Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.

“Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always offered an alternative to the hospital.

Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.

Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.

Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.

There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.

American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.

Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.

Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.

Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine. 

Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.

They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.

It seems the Post Office has always been going broke.

The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.

The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.

 Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.

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