Wednesday, August 26, 2015

…And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Curmudgeonry

Well we're finally back into the school year and things have settled down enough for a return to regular blogging. And why not recognize the beginning of another academic year with one of the most annoying annual traditions in higher ed: the completely ridiculous Beloit College Mindset List.

I've complained about this collection of banal observations masquerading as social insight multiple times in the past, but if Beloit can keep cranking out the same thing for page views, why can't I? Now, I know the list largely exists as a shrewd way for the leadership of Beloit College to get people talking about their tiny college in the middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin, but the cynicism of the creators has never before been an excuse for me not to hate something, so I figure it's worth another dive in.

So what are the things that this year's incoming students inexplicably cannot understand because they happened a year or two before their birth? Let's dive in and find out!

3. They have never licked a postage stamp.

This…can't be true, right? I mean, I get that it's there because the stamps with adhesive on the back were probably introduced sometime around their birth, but surely stamps you lick are still available, right? Even if they're not, surely some of them survived to find their way to these young'uns.

9. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.

This one is definitely not true. Remember how it was a big deal that the first ever women graduated from Army Ranger school? And remember how that was, you know, last week?

16. Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off it. 

I don't doubt the second part, but I very much doubt the first part. Did these kids really need their parents encouragement to use the most ubiquitous means of information and entertainment available?

17. If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”

Kids these days, so confused by turns of phrase that could apply to more than one thing! People who have already finished college would never be confused by whether you meant this century or the last!

30. Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.

Well, sure, but it's been used in surgeries dating back to at least the Vietnam War, so this is something that's been true of people entering college for longer than I've been alive. Seems like a cheap one to round out the list.

33. Phoenix Lights is a series of UFO sightings, not a filtered cigarette.

Uh, what? I finished college years before these kids got there, and I have never in my life heard of Phoenix Lights cigarettes. Wait? Am I actually a first year college student? What's happening?

36. First Responders have always been heroes.

I'm assuming this is in reference to 9/11, but didn't most people hold a fairly high opinion of firefighters before then?

39. Heaven’s Gate has always been more a trip to Comet Hale-Bopp and less a film flop.

Again, this movie came out before I was born. Even for this list, which by definition is a reach to make pointless historical trivia into something meaningful, this is a pretty big stretch. Not to mention, the Heaven's Gate cult committed their infamous mass suicide in 1997, which means an 18 year old today would have just been born when it happened. Which presents a weird Beloit paradox, because usually they assume people apparently have no ability to understand anything that happened on or before the year of their birth, but apparently now things that happened when they were born are major events they mark their life by.

47. They had no idea how fortunate they were to enjoy the final four years of Federal budget surpluses.

Ha! Dumbass toddlers, not paying enough attention to macroeconomic trends!

But wait! It gets even worse! This year features a sort of inverse list, in which the obviously out-of-touch middle aged people who compile this list sound even more painfully out of touch by trying to explain the lingo of youth to the olds like me. It is exactly as painful to read as you think it is. They're all pretty hilarious, but this is the best one by far. Remember, this takes place in a section of the list described as "In fairness to the class of 2019 the following are a few of the expressions from their culture that will baffle their parents, older friends, and teachers …with translations."

6. A significant other who is a bit "too Yoko Ono" has always created tension.  
    A partner too hard to handle…hard for your friends to compete with perfection.

    They're seriously arguing that only the kids these days know who Yoko Ono is, and that their parents would't understand referring to a difficult partner by invoking Yoko Ono. Apparently kids these days are really into some small-time indie band called "The Beatles." And no, that's not a spelling error! That's how those rag-toppled boys actually spell their band name! What will these kids come up with next?!?

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