You know those jokes about parents who tell their kids that they used to have to walk to school in the snow… both ways? Or grandparents who tell their grandchildren that in their day, kids played with balls and were perfectly happy… so why do kids these days need phones and computers?
No matter how old you are now, I bet you that someday you’ll be telling a younger generation about the good ol days. You might focus on the types of entertainment you had, the morals of those around you, or maybe just the type of place you lived. But no matter how much things improve, there’s always things we miss from “a simpler time.” And there’s always things that are just really difficult to explain to someone from a different era, even if they don’t seem that complex on the surface.
It’s weird to think about the processes, products and situations we take for granted due to when we were born and where we were raised. Every year I check out the Mindset List published by Beloit College. The list contains reflections on that year’s college freshmen based on their cultural knowledge and social mindsets. The list started as a way for professors to poke lighthearted fun at each other and remind themselves to use references their students would actually understand. It’s now more of an entryway into the consciousness of today’s college students. It’s always got some silly entries, like last year’s #30: today’s college freshmen never knew tan M&Ms. That difference between kids and their parents about the colors of M&Ms will probably never cause tension- it’s just a fun fact. But the sum of the list’s entries reminds us how easy it is to forget the nuances of a specific place in time, a specific social era, and a specific type of living. Today’s college freshmen have always had suitcases with wheels (what a different visual image of air travel). Today’s college freshmen have always been able to watch TV on a million different screens (what a different construct of entertainment, different conception of what “TV time” means, etc.). And so on and so forth.
The list isn’t gospel, and it won’t give you a complete picture of the social consciousness of today’s generations. But take a read, and reflect on the crazy nuances of the world we live in. Then, check out this Buzzfeed list about “25 Things You’ll Have to Explain to Your Kids One Day” for a good chuckle. My favorite is #19 because man, I HATED those things.