School will be starting soon! Many students will begin their freshman year of college, mostly students who graduated high school in 2018. These students were primarily born in 1999 or 2000, meaning high schools are now almost devoid of children of the 90’s.
It was only a matter of time before the children of the new millennium entered higher education, and this new group of students come with their own unique perspectives. These views are heavily shaped by the times they grew up in, that is, the twenty first century. Anticipating the teenagers who will be entering college campuses in the coming month, I wanted to share ten events and cultural phenomena these students will never understand.
They’ve Always Downloaded Music
Napster was first released in June of 1999 and people quickly realized they could use their computers to download music online at no cost. While artists quickly realized this was quite illegal and technically stealing, the damage was done. Music downloads had hit the mainstream and people were going to head to the internet to get music rather than their local Tower Records. Napster was forced to shut down in 2001, a year the class of 2022 doesn’t remember. While this class certainly knows what a CD is, it doesn’t mean they used them. If they’re going to get a physical copy of music, they probably want the real art: vinyl.
TV Has Always Been Real
Reality TV may have existed in the 90’s but it became huge in the 2000’s. The turning point was likely Survivor whose first season debuted in May of 2000 and amassed over 50 millions viewers by the season finale. This showed networks that cheap-to-produce reality shows were going to get viewers. The class of 2022 may be familiar with Survivor, as it’s still going strong. They also grew up with shows like The Bachelor, Flavor of Love, Jersey Shore, and anything Kardashian.
Being Kind Doesn’t Mean Rewind
I’m certain some members of the class of 2022 remember going to Blockbuster, but what were they renting there? VHSs? I doubt it. DVDs have existed their whole life, and they most likely had access to playing them. Many desktop computers were able to play them, or there’s the possibility that their first DVD player was the Playstation 2. It was released in 2000 and it was one of the most affordable ways to get a DVD player in their early days.
They Know to Demand Recounts
Growing up in the age of the internet, popular phrases spread easily. When things aren’t going their way, the Class of 2022 may shout “I demand a recount.” Many of them may not know the origin of this phrase dating back to the 2000 election when Al Gore tried to recount votes to win the electoral college votes in the state of Florida. Even if they know the origin of the phrase, the certainly don’t remember the election that put it into the mainstream.
They Shop Online Without Fear
While their parents remember a time where Amazon wouldn’t deliver products with free 2-day shipping, the class of 2022 are accustomed to this luxury. Buying clothing, food, or electronics online is second nature for this generation. They’ll never know the uneasy feeling of entering a credit card online or viewing $5 shipping as a deal. Instead, they store this information in their phone and pay with a fingerprint.
Their Pockets Stay Slim
By the time the class of 2022 knew what a phone was, cell phones had cameras built into them. The Motorola Razr was released in 2004 and became a fashion staple for 00’s fashion. Of course, the phone had a camera in it for taking low-quality pictures. By 2007 the iPhone was released, and it was able to replace your iPod, digital camera, and flip phone. They’ll never know how stuffed our pockets once were, but that’s probably a good thing. They grew up in skinny jeans without enough space for a digital camera and an iPod.
Shock-Humor is the Norm
The late 90’s brought in a number of adult cartoons, with 1997 introducing South Park and 1998 introducing Family Guy. 1999 gave us American Pie and 2000 gave us the parody movie Scary Movie. The beginning of the new millennium also introduced the risky stunt show Jackass where the intent was to laugh at the pain of others. All of these shows and movies were met with a strong fan base but a lot of criticism for their content. The Class of 2022 will never know a world without it and have always known there was a market for adult humor.
Y2K is Just a Punchline
Computers have a role in almost every task in 2018’s society. The idea of issues arising due to a calendar change seems ridiculous, but it was a legitimate fear at the turn of the millennium. While most people have heard of Y2K, college students likely find humor in the fact that people were actually afraid this change would result in widespread computer issues. Very few issues were actually reported, but there were people preparing for the world to end.
9/11 is in the History Books
If you were born in 1999 or 2000, you don’t remember hearing the news of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. You’ll likely learn about it in school, but you weren’t watching coverage as the news unfolded. For people a few years older, they remember exactly where they were when they heard the news. The Class of 2022 have other events that stopped their worlds such as: the capture of Osama Bin Laden, the Boston Marathon Bombings, or the election of Donald Trump. 9/11 still has an impact on the daily lives of these students, but witnessing the actual event isn’t in their memory.
Schools Have Been Less Safe
Sadly, the class of 2022 have never known schools to be a place absent of danger. Being born after 1999’s attack on Columbine, the class has been aware of the possibility of gun violence throughout their entire school careers. With other incidents such as Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas, it’s impossible for students to feel 100% safe while at school. For better or for worse, most schools have implemented lockdown drills and active shooter trainings to educate students and staff to protect themselves should an incident occur. Regardless, their experiences in schools have been marred by these incidents.
Welcome Class of 2022!
Ready or not, these students are now adults (legally, at least) and will be entering college. Like every class, they are products of their life experiences and will have different perspectives than others. While I don’t want to say every one of these facts applies to every single student entering college in the fall of 2018, they will be applied to the bulk of them.
Most people will label these students as members of Generation Z. Even you you work with them outside of higher education, these events will have shaped their perspective of the world. By understanding the culture and moments that defined their lives you will have a better understanding of them and how their minds work in 2018.
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