INFOGRAPHIC: We Come From The Future
October 18th, 2011 by
For people born of a certain generation, “The Kids Are Alright,” is mainly a reference to a seminal work by The Who, which they originally heard on vinyl. For a later generation, this phrase was likely linked to The Offspring’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” passed around via mix CD. And in five years, “The Kids Are All Right,” will probably be remembered as a groundbreaking film most people will see after they’ve downloaded or streamed it online.
This sort of generational reference gap is being carefully– and often humorously– tracked by Beloit College’s faculty in The Mindset List, an annual compilation of political and pop culture references that the year’s college freshmen probably won’t get. One anecdote on The Mindset List shows that people born before 1983, entering college around 2005, might not realize that the precise location of the Titanic’s final resting place wasn’t always known. People born after the mid-1990s might not remember that OJ Simpson was once famous for his sports acumen, and wasn’t always a career trial defendant.
One of the more startling trends on the Mindset List is technological: freshmen who will enter college in the year 2015 have no concept of what life was like before the Internet. This is a generation for whom media has been, and forever will be, easily accessed by a few keystrokes and the touch of a button.
Of course, since the advent of the Internet, no one has to stay completely in the dark about past pop culture or political events. In fact, while taking away a kid’s Encyclopedia Brown books and making them read an actual encyclopedia was once considered a punishment (just me?), one could spend an entire day browsing Wikipedia and YouTube to find evidence of such ancient cultural touchstones of our peoples like the original McDonald’s sign (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald%27s_Sign_(Pine_Bluff,_Arkansas) ) or the Dick Van Dyke Show (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=dick+van+dyke+show).
And while I’m grateful to live in a world where Diet Coke has “always existed” (#12, 2005) or where ATMs spit out my money (#16, 2004), I’m really interested to see how this list will look in ten more years. For instance, my step-kid was shocked to find out that there was an animated version of Alice in Wonderland before Tim Burton laid his paws on it, and has often asked to “play” with my iPhone (or, as she views it, the Angry Birds device).
And if you’re feeling really old or disparaged after reading this, worry not. Kids these days still find the Three Stooges and Amelia Bedelia totally hilarious, so the future generation’s probably going to be all right.
Kate Voisin is a graphic designer and IMA at Search Influence who carefully cobbled together this infographic using magazine clippings and paste. Just kidding. She did it in Photoshop and wouldn’t have it any other way.