I was reading some notes about the lifestyle and attitudes of the college graduating class of 2014 (18-year-olds this year). Some selected observations to consider (some are original):
- They have never considered it unusual to find Korean-made cars on the Interstate, let alone parked in the driveway next door.
- They are used to quick and easy access to 500 channels of digital television, of which they only watch a handful, because there is nothing on worth watching.
- They are 'digital communicators' in the extreme and have never (or very rarely) created a hand-written letter or note using cursive script. E-mail is too slow. And they roll their eyes at the thought of using 'snail mail'. 'Stamps' are a dance move.
- They always have a cell phone with them, but do not wear a watch because they get the time from the phone. They don't know that pointing to your wrist was once a request meaning “what time is it?”. And they have never used a telephone with a cord connecting a handset to the base unit. Or had to untangle the cord. “Rotary Dial phone? What's that?”
- “Dirty Harry” is an unknown character, but they do recognize the same man as being a great movie director.
- They never worried about what the Soviet Union was doing around the world politically. And thinking that 'Russia' has ever had nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles aimed at the U.S. seems laughably unlikely. As a matter of fact, Russians and Americans have always been living together in Space.
- American has always had soaring levels of trade and huge budget deficits. China has always been and economic powerhouse and threat.
- The phrase “venti half-caf vanilla latte” not only makes perfect sense, it's a part of normal, daily statements on the street corner.
- They don't know of a world where Buffy has NOT always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other bloodsuckers at Hemery High.
- Their classmates all have at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority to them unless it involves "real" aliens from another planet.
- They have never seen John McEnroe play professional tennis.
- Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause. (And are to be quickly discarded in favor of a different ribbon, just as soon as the next popular cause comes along.)
- Gene Roddenberry, the father of 'Star Trek', has always been dead.
- DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.
- They have lived more of their life under Democratic presidents than under Republicans.
- Computers have always had at least a CD-ROM disk drive. And usually a DVD player. They have no idea what a “floppy disk” is.
- Czechoslovakia has never existed. Germany was never split into East and West.
- They're never seen a manned U.S. rocket launch that didn't use solid fuel propellants.
- Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.
- Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
- American companies have always done business in Vietnam.
- Exposure to 'Witchcraft' had nothing to do with the comedic lives of Samantha and Darrin, but was all about being 'Charmed' while Harry Potter went to school.
- Kurt Cobain and Nirvana is on the classical 'oldies' radio station. “Stairway to Heaven' is considered 'easy listening music. This is fine because they don't listen to radio anyway - their music is downloaded and viral to its core.
- Their parents' favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies. And the next theater always has a flick staring their parent's comic-book hero.
- They don't remember when Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Dan Quayle or Rodney King were in the news.
- Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.
- They probably assume that their parents' complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.
- 'Movie Animation' means Pixar or Dreamworks.
- Since they were born, the Dow Jones average has never been below 3500. Since they started elementary school, it's never been below 7000.
- “Barney” has always meant a purple dinosaur, never Barney Google or Barney Fife. Beethoven has always been a dog.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.
- Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.
- The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.
And, like all the generations before them, the class of 2014 considers themselves to be permanently 'hip', 'edgy', and 'in-the-know' on all the things that really matter. They have fast and easy solutions at their fingertips for each and every problem. And if - somehow - their ideas don't work in the Real World, it's not their fault - (a) their solution was sabotaged, or (b) they had good intentions, so the results don't really matter.
They are riding the waves of a fully-computerized technology-based culture that relies on iPhones and Blackberries for instant communication with others, they require rapid access to trivial and meaningless anecdotes 24/7, they demand quick-and-easy answers to any question - and they don't have a clue there is a huge difference between information and knowledge.
Once again, we are painfully reminded that a generation comes and goes in the blink of an eye. And despite their wishes and increasingly frantic efforts, they are, just like the rest of us, getting older and older...
And so it goes.