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Avoiding old fogey status

POSTED: August 28, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Beloit College is a private school with about 1,250 students located roughly 100 miles northwest of Chicago, just across the border in Wisconsin.

Since 1998, the college has produced something called the Beloit College Mindset List. The list is sort of a primer for faculty members about the culture and thinking of the incoming freshman class.

The list has attracted national attention for the small college and has even been the genesis for a book.

Personally, I’m trying to avoid becoming an old fogey, but I find I’m often dating myself with sayings and references.

The folks at Beloit remind us of a few interesting tidbits:

Ferris Bueller, who took a day off in 1986, would now be 43. He’s old enough to be a parent of the class of 2015.

Mention LBJ and they think you’re talking about LeBron James, the NBA star. Bear in mind, Lyndon Baines Johnson died 20 years before they were born.

Amazon is an online place to buy books and other merchandise. Oh yeah, didn’t they name a river after it?

Arnold Palmer is a drink (half tea and half lemonade). I don’t know if kids in Hall County know that one of our own, Tommy Aaron, won the Masters in 1972. Maybe they teach that in a history class at Gainesville High.

They don’t understand the meaning of "don’t touch that dial" because they don’t know what a dial is.

Chicken soup has always been food for the soul.

Music has always been available through free downloads. They don’t know about records (the vinyl kind with a hole in the middle).

The list goes on, but you get the general picture. They speak a different language because they grew up in an era where technology changes almost daily.

For kids in Georgia, this group doesn’t remember all the years we suffered with a losing Braves team; Coach Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker are historical figures that old guys talk about around the tailgate party.

My teachers were concerned that I knew how to write in cursive. This group is more concerned with writing on an iPad, iPhone or Droid. I sometimes worry that they might lose the ability to speak, given their tendency to use text messages.

Speaking of electronic communications, a tweet for the class of 2015 will not be the sound of a bird, but a 140 character microblog.

They don’t know about dialing long distance, life without cable TV and not being able to order online. Al Gore had already invented the Internet by the time they were born.

I’m trying very hard to keep up, holding to a promise not to be like my parents, who referred to the Beatles as "those old Beetle-bugs." That reference was made every time my mother thought I needed a haircut.

They saw the rise and fall of the VCR. A decade before they were born, I bought a newfangled VCR for $400. It might bring 50 cents at a yard sale. They will likely be around for the demise of the DVD.

They have their own take on fashion. It’s OK to wear shorts and flip-flops to church and sporting a tattoo or a few body piercings is the norm.

I am just hoping that they just don’t rediscover the leisure suit.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gaines villetimes.com/harris.



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