Tuesday, August 29, 2006

THEY'VE SEEN TWO DECADES END, AND SEEN THE WORLD COULD CHANGE AT THE BLINK OF AN EYE: Yet again, the good folks at Beloit College have released their annual "mindset list" for its incoming freshman class, telling us what it means to be a member of the class of 2010 ("Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale", "Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time", etc.)

But what's interesting about the list to me now is that it's almost all about technological and cultural advances -- "Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines", "Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series" -- but very little about what's been lost for a child born in 1988.

These kids have never had the thrill of looking forward to a new Prince album as a big cultural event. They never had to camp out for tickets to a concert, because they've always been able to get them online. They never got to see Sammy Davis Jr, and Johnny Carson went off the air while they were still wearing diapers to sleep. Because of cable and now TiVo, fresh programming targetted to them has always been available, and they have had no reason to watch the reruns of the shows which preceded them as we did. We watched The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island and Happy Days because there was nothing else on, and it created a shared dialogue with our elders. No more. And while gangsta rap has always been around, they only know about Public Enemy because Flavor Flav is a reality tv star.

So let's not talk about what the kids have gained -- tell us what they missed out on.

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