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Rite of passage: Generation gap

For a number of years, Beloit College has produced the Mindset List, a reminder that the worldview of today’s new college students is significantly different from the previous year’s. It will be interesting to see how COVID-19 will affect this generation of students in years to come.

Many of us grew up in the beginning of today’s technology revolution. We were there when televisions appeared, along with hair dryers, telephones, air conditioning, refrigerators, washers and dryers and more. I think of ours as the “Howdy Doody” generation. The generation that will graduate from college in 2024 grew up experiencing a different world.

I saw the first space shuttle launch and the first step on the moon. This generation has seen Elon Musk send up a rocket that landed upright on a small platform in the ocean. Many of you remember when your grandparents didn’t have electricity, and now you have witnessed the mass production of electric cars.

All of these affect our worldview. Here is a list of what current students have or have not experienced in their formative years.

They are the first class born in the new millennium, escaping the dreaded label of “Millennial,” though their new designation—iGen, GenZ, etc. — has not yet been agreed upon by them.

  1. Outer space has never been without human habitation.
  2. They have always been able to refer to Wikipedia.
  3. They have grown up afraid that a shooting could happen at their school.
  4. People loudly conversing with themselves in public are no longer thought to be talking to imaginary friends.
  5. Calcutta has always been Kolkata.
  6. They never used a spit bowl in a dentist’s office.
  7. When filling out forms, they are not surprised to find more than two gender categories to choose from.
  8. A visit to a bank has been a rare event in their lives.
  9. They’ve grown up with stories about where their grandparents were on Nov. 22, 1963, and where their parents were on 9/11.
  10. The words “veritas” and “horizon” have always joined together to form Verizon.
  11. The Prius has always been on the road in the U.S.
  12. It’s not unusual to have presidential candidates who win the popular vote but lose the election.
  13. There has always been a “Survivor” TV show.
  14. “Oprah” has always been a magazine.
  15. Donny and Marie who?
  16. Denmark and Sweden have always been just a 10-minute drive apart via the Oresund Bridge.
  17. Films have always been distributed online.
  18. There have always been more than a billion people in India.
  19. The Tower of Pisa has always had a prop to keep it leaning.
  20. Starbucks has always served venti café lattes in Beijing’s Forbidden City.
  21. Someone has always skied nonstop down Mount Everest. (I had to look this one up.)
  22. They will never fly TWA, Swissair or Sabena Airlines.
  23. Mass market books have always been available exclusively as e-books.
  24. Exotic animals have always provided emotional support to airline passengers.
  25. Robert Downey Jr. has always been the sober “Iron Man.”

The “Howdy Doody” world I grew up in is different than my parents’ world, and the world your children are growing up in is also different than yours—vastly different. Due to the escalation of technology, the difference between generations is now greater than any previous gap.

Just a few years ago, in 1984 (to most of us, 1984 is just a few years back), the technology analysts questioned the need for a computer small enough to fit into a briefcase. Yet many of these articles are written on just such a computer. Also in 1984, it was said that “videotape technology” was killing the film industry and slowing cable network development, and there was no market for TV satellite systems. As you know, videotapes are history, and TV satellites are the “in” thing.

There is only one constant, and that is Jesus Christ, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator and Sustainer of all life. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

To find peace in an ever-changing world, you need to be grounded in the Unchangeable One Himself. His promises are also unchangeable: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Now that’s better than “Howdy Doody” time!

Walker Moore

Author: Walker Moore

View more articles by Walker Moore.

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