Points of Reference – 1999

Kilroy Was Here

Viewing our fellow citizens we frequently find ourselves shaking our collective heads in disbelief at their attitudes and opinions. At such times it would do some good to recognize the disparity in historical reference points each generation employs in the formation of their ideas.

Each succeeding generation has experienced "defining" events that shape their thoughts, opinions, and expectations. The retired WWII veteran's frame of reference is quite unlike that of today's thirty-something up and comers, and theirs is unlike those of their baby-boom parents.

So it should be no surprise when these groups reach divergent answers to today's problems and adversities. Bear in mind these differences are among Americans. A people with a common language and heritage.

It then should also follow that it is the height of hubris for anyone to state with certainty that they know or understand what is going on in the minds of foreign leaders or their citizens. It just is not possible. Doing so reveals their inner arrogance towards others and their elitist, self-righteousness.

Let's take a look at the reference points the latest crop of the "best and the brightest" bring to the table.

Annually, Beloit College in Wisconsin puts together an information sheet to remind faculty of the mindset of its incoming freshmen class. [Please see below] Here are some facts about the next generation:

  • Students starting college this fall were born in 1980.

  • They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era.

  • They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf war was waged.

  • Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.

  • There has only been one Pope.

  • They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart, and do not remember the Cold War.

  • They have never feared a nuclear war.

  • They're too young to remember the space shuttle Challenger blowing up.

  • Their lifetime has always included AIDS.

  • They never had a Polio shot, and likely, do not know what it is.

  • The expression "you sound like a broken record" means nothing to them.

  • The compact disc was introduced when they were 1 year old.

  • They likely have never played Pac Man, and have never heard of Pong.

  • "Star Wars" looks very fake to them, and the special effects are pathetic.

  • Blue M&Ms are not new.

  • They have always had an answering machine.

  • Most have never seen a black & white TV.

  • They have always had cable.

  • They cannot fathom not having a remote control.

  • Roller-skating has always meant inline for them.

  • The Tonight Show has always been with Jay Leno.(And how many folks today even remember Jack Parr?)

  • Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.

  • The Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as World War I and World War II, or even the Civil War.

  • Kansas, Boston, Chicago, America, and Alabama are places, not musical groups.


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updated: 09may2018

The Beloit College Mindset List is Copyrighted and
"Mindset List" is a registered trademark .

To see the Mindset List for the current and previous graduating class year go here:

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