The Class of 2019 Beloit College Mindset List, which was mistakenly(?) published Monday, was then removed and which may appear again [UPDATE: Here it is!], contains items from the same categories that Tom McBride and Ron Nief have run into the ground year after year after year. Here is the list sorted by category with my occasional commentary in italics.
Things that have “always” been, i.e., things that began approximately 18 years ago, but about which most American 18 year-olds probably don’t care that much
1. Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.
6. Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.
34. Scotland and Wales have always had their own parliaments and assemblies.
42. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have always been members of NATO.
Imagining that American teenagers pay attention to things in other countries is a regular BML fallacy.
8. The NCAA has always had a precise means to determine a national champion in college football.
I think “precise” is probably the wrong word here.
11. Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times.
And young people love to read newspapers.
12. Ellis Island has always been primarily in New Jersey.
15. The Airport in Washington, D.C., has always been Reagan National Airport.
And the Class of 2019 can’t remember Stapleton Airport either.
19. Attempts at human cloning have never been federally funded but do require FDA approval.
20. “Crosstown Classic” and the “Battle of the Bay” have always been among the most popular interleague rivalries in Major League Baseball.
22. Phish Food has always been available from Ben and Jerry.
25. The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.
More evidence Messrs. McBride and Nief have never hired an editor.
31. Fifteen nations have always been constructing the International Space Station.
32. The Lion King has always been on Broadway.
38. CNN has always been available en Español.
40. Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.
41. The Atlanta Braves have always played at Turner Field.
New stadiums are a BML standby.
49. Vote-by-mail has always been the official way to vote in Oregon.
Because 18 year-olds have a lot of experience voting.
50. …and there has always been a Beloit College Mindset List.
Things that happened around 18 years ago that most American 18 year olds probably know nothing about
23. Kyoto has always symbolized inactivity about global climate change.
33. Phoenix Lights is a series of UFO sightings, not a filtered cigarette.
39. Heaven’s Gate has always been more a trip to Comet Hale-Bopp and less a film flop.
Things that “never” were, i.e., things that ended around 18 years ago so most 18 year-olds don’t know about them and/or didn’t experience them
3. They have never licked a postage stamp.
21. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny has never been the official song of the Virginia Commonwealth.
26. The eyes of Texas have never looked upon The Houston Oilers.
Moving sports teams, like new stadiums, are a regular BML feature.
28. In a world of DNA testing, the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington has never included a Vietnam War veteran “known only to God.”
47. They had no idea how fortunate they were to enjoy the final four years of Federal budget surpluses.
Since they were small children, who generally don’t follow such things.
48. Amoco gas stations have steadily vanished from the American highway.
Celebrities most 18 year-olds probably don’t care about who did something approximately 18 years ago
10. Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.
37. Sir Paul and Sir Elton have always been knights of the same musical roundtable.
45. Jones and Mr. Smith have always been Men in Black, not their next-door neighbors.
As I’ve suggested before: “Instead of making up what movies college freshmen like, what celebrities they care about, what books they’ve read and so on, Messrs. McBride and Nief could ask some of them—send out a survey to incoming Beloit College students and ask them about their favorite stuff.”
Some things that actually may be significant to many 18 year-olds and that are listed on the Mindset List (often in a confusing and/or inaccurate description) because of a connection to something that happened approximately 18 years ago
2. Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.”
4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.
7. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
16. Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off of it.
27. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online.
Matriculating college students grew up with computers.
5. Four foul-mouthed kids have always been playing in South Park.
29. Playhouse Disney was a place where they could play growing up.
Some 18 year-olds have watched South Park or Disney Playhouse, which its Wikipedia page describes as “a defunct brand for a slate of programming blocks.” Is that best described as a place where kids could play?
14. Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.
Do students take notes on cell phones?
18. They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.
44. TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks.
Observations and social commentary from two old white guys
9. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.
Someone must still care because two days ago the NFL’s first female and first female assistant head coach shaking hands was a widely reported news story.
13. “No means no” has always been morphing, slowly, into “only yes means yes.”
Apparently an Incoherent reference to sexual assault on campus.
17. If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”
Technology is different now than 18 years ago
24. When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their “bag phones,” usually in cars, for emergencies.
35. At least Mom and Dad had their new Nintendo 64 to help them get through long nights sitting up with the baby.
Prof. John Q. Angry has discussed Messrs. McBride and Nief’s interest in “portraying parents as distracted by things that happened when their children were born.”
46. Their proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.
We’re not sure what these ones mean
30. Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.
36. First Responders have always been heroes.
43. Humans have always had implanted radio frequency ID chips—slightly larger than a grain of rice.
This last item is a serious case of burying the lede. If Messrs. McBride and Nief can prove we have all been implanted with ID chips, they should publish that information in a more reputable source than the Mindset List.