Cultural tips for old fogies

“Bueller... Bueller... Bueller?” If you recognize that line, chances are you’re old enough to be considered, well... old.

He begat Moon Unit and Dweezil.

“Bueller… Bueller… Bueller?”

If you recognize that line, chances are you’re old enough to be considered, well… old. Which is exactly how you will feel reading this year’s Mindset List, put out annually by Beloit College.

It’s a list of what today’s 18-year-olds know – or don’t know – about the world, based on what technological advances and pop culture references they’ve grown up with. Touchstones, they’re called.

This current crop of first-year post secondary students – the Class of 2015 – were born in 1993. Which means good ol’ Ferris and Sloane from the 1986 John Hughes teen comedy are old enough to be their super uncool parents.

It also means they missed out on dial-up Internet, floppy disks, and even Sony Walkmans. (By the way, does anybody know if it’s true that the Oxford English Dictionary plans to ditch the term “cassette tape” from its list of definitions? I read it online somewhere. Anybody? Bueller?)

The authors say the list, now in its umpteenth year, was originally created to help their professors be aware of dated references when lecturing students (translation: so they seem less out of touch).

According to the list, the class of 2015 won’t remember president George Herbert Walker Bush (Dubya’s daddy) in the White House, but they will be familiar with the garter-belt and bustier-wearing Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show – viewable only at midnight screenings at downtown movie theatres for a generation of Time Warpers, but a staple of prime time TV programming since these First Years were in diapers.

Speaking of babies, the Class of 2015 slept on their backs as newborns until they learned how to roll over on their own (unlike their older siblings, thanks to advances in modern parenting).

The 2011 Mindset List throws down the gauntlet at Generation X, cruelly pointing out that for 18-year-olds, Andre the Giant, River Phoenix, Frank Zappa and the Commodore 64 have always been dead.

While the Wisconson-based college’s list is littered with U.S. cultural references, it still provides potent food for thought for any Canadian fogies who may be wondering how to relate to the ADD-addled, text messaging 18-year-olds of today.

Here’s a sample:

• They swipe cards, not merchandise.

• “Don’t touch that dial!” … what dial?

• There has never been an official Communist Party in Russia.

• Music has always been available via free downloads. (Which means they’ve missed out on the singular pleasure of creating a mix tape for the object of their devotion, an exercise that took hours of careful deliberation and a small amount of recording expertise.)

• Frasier, Sam, Woody and Rebecca have never Cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during prime time.

• As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.

• They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a website.

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Er, what was I talking about again?

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