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What you don't have in common with kids

August 27, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
The folks at Beloit College, in Beloit, Wis., have come out with their annual list of things that incoming college freshmen (the Class of 2018 this year) have as cultural reference points that render me more culturally insignificant.

Well, not me only, but people who aren’t as young as they used to be. Originally, I saw this list used as a means to advise professors not to use cultural reference points in their classrooms that would go right over their students’ heads.

Every once in awhile, one comes across a kid with a different abilitiy to transcend ages. Our own reporter Shae Dalrymple gets references to politics and music from back in the Nixon-era easily despite being the age of my kids. Cool. But then she gets to talking about stuff that came way after me, which makes me realize my ability to transcend ages has come to a close, pretty much.

So, it was that I delved into the annual Beloit list, with its 55 items for 2014 to see. Some that struck me:

-- These kids think of Harry Potter, not John Lennon when they see wire-rimmed circular glasses. I still want to keep on playing those mind games forever. Ouch.

-- No one says “press pound” anymore. They say “hashtag.” Maybe that’s because they don’t use automated customer service call-in systems very often. Hopefully, there’s no room in college for just dropping “hashtag” into sentences. Annoying.

-- They never had Saturday morning cartoon shows but are hooked on Sunday night FOX animated shows. Now, I’m a big fan of “Family Guy,” and when comparing that to the furor there once was over the violence in the “Roadrunner/Bugs Bunny Hour,” I’m left speechless. For adults, OK, but my granddaughter will not see Peter Griffin until she’s at least 14, if I have anything to say about it. Or enough duct tape to hide the remote controls in her home and mine.

-- There’s no “watercooler’ conversation or “watercooler” television. You go to the watercooler to refill your water bottle. Period. Seems like an improvement, actually. You want to talk to your buddies about yesterday’s game, text somebody. On your own time. And I can’t for the life of me figure out what a show with a common following that transcends everyone’s tastes in the office might be. There’s no more opportunity for everyone to watch the same thing every night at the same time given TiVo, Netflix, satellites, 10,000 cable channels, cell phones, computers, tablets, etc. Folks might watch the same shows but not at the same time. For instance, City Editor Jody Wisbith pointed out to me that one of my all-time favorites, “House, M.D.” was on Netflix. I thought I was “binge” watching the eight seasons by watching two or three a day. Jody got a couple seasons ahead of me within a week. I finished after a month of watching. By the way, “Everybody Dies.” Still.

-- A sad one: FOX News and MSNBC have been offering polar opposite views of the news all these young people’s lives. Which means they’re polarized. Or bipolarized. Which means they have to be fitted for tinfoil hats. Sorry, kids.

-- Pepsi is the drink of astronauts. Sad days for the preferred drink of Boomer astronauts, Tang.

-- They were in kindergarten on Sept. 11, 2001. Their lives never were lived without those images of that day, nor the paranoid impact of that day. They thus never got to just go watch the jets take off or land. (Not that I did that ever. That I’m telling anyone about. The NSA may be listening, after all.)

-- They’ve always heard the words “may cause cancer, high blood pressure, allergic reactions, stroke, tremors, paralysis and uncontrollable vocal tics” when watching commercials on TV because pharmaceutical ads were always there during the course of their 18 years so far.

-- The Unabomber is just some guy in jail.

-- George Stephanopoulos never was anywhere but ABC News.

-- Two-term presidents are routine, but landslides aren’t. (Perhaps we should revisit FOX vs. MSNBC above.)

My granddaughter is 4 and she prefers The Boss (Grandma)’s iPhone to my Android (“Grandpa, you need to take this back to Best Buy,” she once said, handing my beloved Motorola back to me.) Can you remotely imagine what will be on Beloit’s list in about 14 years?


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