The 21st Annual Mindset List
By Ron Nief, Tom McBride and Charles Westerberg, themindsetlist.com
Human beings have always been living — not just traveling — in space. The United States has always been in Afghanistan. Same-sex marriage has always been legal somewhere and the once revolutionary “You’ve got mail” is almost forgotten.
A lot can change in just 18 years, but these same 18 years also make up the mindset — or “event horizon” — of today’s entering college students. Born in 2000, the first year of the new millennium, these students are members of the College Class of 2022.
Since 1998, the annual Mindset List has circulated internationally as a way of reminding professors everywhere that they aren’t just teaching courses, they’re also teaching students. The list has generated several books, prompted international discussions and lists and scores of speaking appearances around the country.
“All good things must come to a conclusion,” notes the Mindset List’s creator Ron Nief, Public affairs director emeritus at Beloit College. This will be the last year that the Mindset List will be associated with Beloit College, but it will continue in the future at themindsetlist.com or at a new institutional home. “We have enjoyed our 20 plus years of association with Beloit College, where the List began,” said Ron Nief.
The list was initiated in the early days of the internet and has been a popular component of back-to-school talks, faculty orientations and sermons for two decades. Its uses have ranged from training police and military officers and sales staff at Neiman Marcus, to the late Fidel Castro’s attacks on U.S. policy.
“With contributions from parents and academics around the world, the List has tracked cultural change, stimulated intergenerational conversation, and just made older people feel even older,” noted co-editors Tom McBride, author and Beloit emeritus professor of English, and Charles Westerberg, Beloit College sociologist.
The original authors have moved on to new projects in their retirement but will continue their battle against “hardening of the references” at their website, themindsetlist.com.
“Students come to college with particular assumptions based on the horizons of their lived experience,” McBride notes. “All teachers need to monitor their references, while students need to appreciate that without a sound education they will never get beyond the cave of their own limited personal experiences,”
The 2018 Mindset list For the Class of 2022
Among the iconic figures never alive in their lifetime are Victor Borge, Charles Schulz, and the original Obi-Wan Kenobi Alec Guinness.
Among their classmates could be Madonna’s son Rocco, Will Smith’s daughter Willow, or David Bowie and Iman’s daughter Alexandria.
- 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.
- Outer space has never been without human habitation.
- They have always been able to refer to Wikipedia.
- They have grown up afraid that a shooting could happen at their school, too.
- People loudly conversing with themselves in public are no longer thought to be talking to imaginary friends.
- Calcutta has always been Kolkata.
- Afghanistan has always been the frustrating quagmire that keeps on giving.
- Investigative specials examining the O.J. Simpson case have been on TV annually since their birth.
- Same-sex couples have always found marital bliss in the Netherlands.
- When filling out forms, they are not surprised to find more than two gender categories to choose from.
- Presidents winning the popular vote and then losing the election are not unusual.
- Parents have always been watching Big Brother, and vice versa.
- Someone has always skied non-stop down Mount Everest.
- They’ve grown up with stories about where their grandparents were on 11/22/63 and where their parents were on 9/11.
- Erin Brockovich has always offered a role model.
- The words veritas and horizon have always been joined together to form Verizon.
- They will never fly TWA, Swissair, or Sabena airlines.
- The Tower of Pisa has always had a prop to keep it leaning.
- There has never been an Enron.
- The Prius has always been on the road in the U.S.
- UK retail sales have always been organized in metrics, except for beer, still sold by the imperial pint.
- They never used a spit bowl in a dentist’s office.
- They have never seen a cross-town World Series.
- There has always been a Survivor.
- “You’ve got mail” would sound as ancient to them as “number, please” would have sounded to their parents.
- Mifepristone or RU-486, commonly called the “abortion pill,” has always been available in the U.S.
- A visit to a bank has been a rare event.
- Unable to come up with a new tune, Russians have always used the old Soviet national anthem.
- They have never had to deal with “chads,” be they dimpled, hanging, or pregnant.
- “Bipartisan” is soooo last century.
- Horton has always heard a Who on stage in Seussical the musical.
- Robert Downey Jr. has always been the sober Iron Man.
- Exotic animals have always been providing emotional support to passengers on planes.
- Starbucks has always served venti Caffè Lattes in Beijing’s Forbidden City.
- Lightbulbs have always been shatterproof.
- Xlerators have always been drying hands in 15 seconds with a roar.
- I Love You has always been a computer virus.
- Thumbprints have always provided log in security — and are harder to lose — than a password.
- Robots have always been able to walk on two legs and climb stairs.
- None having served there, American Presidents have always visited Vietnam as Commander-in-Chief.
- There have always been space tourists willing to pay the price.
- Mass market books have always been available exclusively as Ebooks.
- Oprah has always been a magazine.
- Berets have always been standard attire for U.S. military uniforms.
- The folks may have used a Zipcar to get them to the delivery room on time.
- Bonefish Grill has always been serving sustainable seafood.
- As toddlers, they could be fined for feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square in London.
- Google Doodles have never recognized major religious holidays.
- Chernobyl has never produced any power in their lifetimes.
- Donny and Marie who?
- They never tasted Pepsi Twist in the U.S.
- Denmark and Sweden have always been just a ten-minute drive apart via the Oresund Bridge.
- There have always been more than a billion people in India.
- Thanks to the Taliban, the colossal Buddhas of Bamiyan have never stood in Central Afghanistan.
- Films have always been distributed on the Internet.
- Environmental disasters such as the BP Deepwater Horizon, and the coal sludge spill in Martin City, Ky., have always exceeded the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
- The detachable computer mouse is almost extinct.
- The Mir space station has always been at the bottom of the South Pacific.
- King Friday the 13th and Lady Elaine Fairchild have always dwelled in the Neighborhood, but only in re-runs.
- Israeli troops have never occupied Southern Lebanon.