Friday, July 19, 2013

Communicating with the Class of 2016

It's been said that the Class of 2016 entering college this year measures their fundamental particles of life in bits, bytes, and bauds. They have less faith in government, worry about mounting student loans and getting a job after college, and question the value of a college degree. Those born in 1994 worry about high unemployment and the difficult economic situation.  The big question for seniors like me is how to communicate with this new generation.

Kreighton Green and Mom

As a writer and blogger, I'm fortunate that my children keep me current on  many things, i.e. that CDs and DVDs are not "tapes", that you don't take pictures on "film", and that you should use your smartphone or MP3 player or iPod to listen to music (not your car radio). My son is a computer "wiz" and teaches me how to create better blog posts and more interesting photos, and unscrambles my problems with my laptop. He shares interesting sites and his blog shows me what can be achieved with time, effort, and energy. Having talent helps and I'm while only adequate and bordering on mediocre, he is blessed with knowledge and skill expanded by his pursuit of perfection. Fortunately, he shares much of what he learns with dear old Mom.

The Mindset List is one of the gems my son shared with me which is destined to improve my communication with the younger folks in my circle of friends, in my family, and readers of my blogs.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, authors of The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think Is Normal (John Wiley and Sons), it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation. Mindset List websites at and, as well as the Mediasite webcast and their Facebook page receive more than a million visits annually.

Here is some of the types of information that helps me with my writing, blog posts, and interaction with younger people:

" For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Corbain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead".

"They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of "electronic narcotics."

"Michael Jackson's family, not the Kennedys, constitutes "American Royalty".

"If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on You Tube."

"On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males."

"Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as (young) Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway."

"The Biblical sources of terms such as "Forbidden Fruit," "The writing on the wall," "Good Samaritan," and "The Promised Land" are unknown to most of them."

"The Twilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling."

Henry and Krystal Green

When I've referenced the elegance of Grace Kelly in something I'm writing, my daughter Krystal and my husband Henry race to tell me that many people don't know who Grace Kelly is. I can hear my grandson Mekhi tell me that "point-and-shoot cameras are sooooo last millennium."  My favorite granddaughter and I had one of our biggest battles over "Meet The Fockers". My oldest daughter Kimberly, a health care professional, helps me understand medicines, treatments and other elements of healthcare.I consider myself lucky to have all these folks who care enough about me and my audience to help me keep things understandable.

I hope you checkout the Mindset List and that you find it helpful in improving your communication with the next generation.

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