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Change happens—like it or not

By Staff | Aug 20, 2010

It seems that everyday items are becoming obsolete even faster than I thought. Wear a wristwatch? Use e-mail? Know how to write in cursive?

Well you might, but the Class of 2014 does not.

Thanks to the recently released Beloit College Mindset List it’s spelled out in 75 clear and concise ways describing this year’s college freshmen point of reference. The compilation is assembled each year by two officials at this private school of about 1,400 students in Beloit, Wisconsin.

The list is meant to remind teachers (and the rest of the world) that cultural references familiar to one generation might draw blank stares from college freshman born mostly in 1992.

Yikes. If today’s college freshman were born in 1992 that means I’m really getting old. In 1992, I was a college freshman. I was fresh off high school graduation and ready to take the world by storm.

In 1992…Here’s what was happening in my world.

– Ross Perot announced he would run in the upcoming presidential race against Bill Clinton and President Bush (the senior Bush). Bill Clinton of course later won that election.

– McDonalds first opened in China.

– Dan and Dave were going head to head in the Reebok commercials.

– The Apple computer was king. Windows 3.1 was released.

– The Mall of America opened in Minnesota.

– Riots broke out in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four white police officers accused of beating black motorist Rodney King.

– Prince Charles and Princess Diana separated.

– Immigration was only a problem for “other” countries.

– Nirvana was one of the most popular groups famous for “grunge rock.”

– Miley Ray Cyrus was just born.

Fast forward 18 years. Now the mindset of today’s college freshman is completely different. In 2010…

– Ross Perot who?

– You mean there isn’t a McDonald’s in every country, on every corner?

– Who are Dan and Dave?

– The Apple computers used in 1992 are now in museums.

– Who needs the Mall of America when you have the Internet?

– Who is Rodney King?

– The closest thing we have to royalty these days isn’t Charles and Di, it’s Fergie and she’s a pop singer, not a princess.

– Immigration is a huge debate right here at home. In fact, a quarter of the Class of 2014 has at least one immigrant parent.

– Nirvana is now on the classic oldies station.

– Miley Cyrus is all grown up and she’s everywhere.

For example, telephones with cords became obsolete before they even knew what they looked like. Corded phones to them are a communication ball and chain.

Ever worry about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.? Not these kids. During these students’ lives, Russians and Americans have always been friends and living together in outer space.

To these kids, Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry. Email is just too slow, and don’t even think about using snail mail. Coffee is no longer just coffee anymore.

So why do things like corded phones, wristwatches, cursive writing and snail mail all fade into the sunset? Is it simply because better things have come along to replace them?

Every generation experiences these type of changes. I remember the first remote control VCR we had when I was a kid. It had two buttons-play and fast-forward. And, oh by the way, it was tethered to the VCR with a long cord. So it was sort of “remote.” I also remember our first microwave oven. The thing was huge and it weighed about 100 pounds.

Things keep changing and we better just go along for the ride.

Mullally is a Tribune writer.

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