Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We Invented Their Electronic Toys

I lived before there were compact discs, long-playing records, automatic transmission cars and McDonald’s. So, you say, “big deal; lots of people have.”

Of my many jobs, one is at a college where none of the students and fewer of the employees fit the above categories. How many people are on campus who were born before 1948, when the record albums came out? McDonald’s got moving when Ray Kroc took over in 1956; we have employees who weren’t around then.

I remain amazed at the constant newness of people. Which, of course, means the constant oldness of me. I played 78rpm records on the radio and students don’t even remember record albums; even compact discs are 28 years old. We didn’t have K-Mart, but did have its father, the S. S. Kresge stores (remember them?).

All our first-year students were born in 1992; assuming they don’t become conscious of the world around them until they are about eight, that means they don’t know very much about the last century; 19-whatever is ancient history. If it happened before 2000, don’t even bother.

When you appear to become irrelevant, let the kids know your generation invented the personal computers, the computer games, all the electronic toys, the take-it-with-you music gadgets. Then ask them what they will invent for the next generation. Tell them who was president when you were born and why he made a difference.


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