Every once in a while, it hits you – "Man, I’m old." Many of us are having the same experience as we realize the incoming class of college freshmen was born in 1991 and 1992, when Clinton was in the process of becoming the 42nd president, the first Iraq War was a resounding success and you were slow jamming to Boyz II Men. Today, we have our first African American president, we’re mired in a now seven-and-a-half year war in Iraq, and Lady Gaga is making us forget about Madonna. Other aspects of our lives have changed as well, making our day-to-day activities easier to accomplish. Below is a list of the 10 things the class of 2014 hasn’t experienced, or more accurately, the 10 things a majority of 18-year-olds haven’t experienced firsthand.
- A world without the internet
Not only do new college students not know a world without the internet, but many also haven’t endured the screaming modem connecting through a telephone landline. A dropped connection or the fear of it limited your enjoyment and inhibited you from accomplishing much. But as the internet has evolved, connections have become faster and almost everything has become available with the click of a mouse. Teenagers are able to sign up for SATs, apply for college, apply for financial aid, select their classes, find a dorm, find a roommate and join a club all before they set foot on campus. The legwork that came with making such a life transition two decades ago has been eliminated.
- Consistent email correspondences
It’s tragically unhip to use an email for anything other than formal correspondence. It has become an archaic form of internet communication and it has been supplanted by social networking sites. Email is rarely used to facilitate conversations by young people because it’s too slow and too impersonal. Instead, it’s used for formal messages with bosses and professors, and as a tool for signing up for websites.
- Life without cell phones
College freshmen now are connected to their friends every minute of every day thanks to their smartphones. They can maintain constant contact with each other by texting and Facebooking – the latter of which has made high school reunions less anticipated because graduates from the last several years already know what their classmates are doing with their lives. Many college students have never used a payphone, which was the main communication device to use when you were out and about in years past, though you couldn’t make the call if you didn’t remember the number.
- Cameras with film
The class of 2014 will be taking plenty of pictures in the coming years, capturing the memorable and not-so-memorable moments that occur during college. But before the advent of Facebook, when picture-taking was less of a priority to young people, a camera was only as good as the film that accompanied it. There was no immediate gratification after taking a round of photos because you couldn’t upload them onto your computer. Instead, you dropped the roll off at the drugstore and waited until the photos were developed – it was the only way you would see the photos.
- Using a paper map
Now, commuters are less likely to get lost with the presence of a GPS. The only time a paper map is unfolded, trial and error is used or verbal directions are requested during a trip is when the GPS hasn’t been updated in a while, and it steers you to an empty field. So when students from the class of 2014 embark on their first college roadtrips, the absence of wrong turns and unexpected detours will result in more time to have fun.
- Driving manual transmission cars
Although cars with manual transmissions are still manufactured, few young people bother to learn how to drive them. The phase-out began a couple of decades ago, but for a while, many parents took it upon themselves to teach their kids how to drive a stick shift because it was still considered a useful skill. Cars with manual transmissions are usually cheaper, and car enthusiasts will tell you they’re more fun to drive. But driving has become a chore, and young and old people alike prefer to keep it as easy as possible.
- Thumbing through an encyclopedia, dictionary or thesaurus
The time-consuming activity of thumbing through an encyclopedia, dictionary or thesaurus made research papers a dreaded part of the college experience during the pre-internet era. It was a given that you would spend hours upon hours in the library, and if you didn’t, your GPA would suffer. For home use, Encyclopedia Britannica and Webster’s Dictionary were reliable options. Now, definitions can be easily found by googling the term, and Wikipedia has become an informal source of information despite its inaccuracy. Library time is spent surfing the internet, unless a professor gives an assignment that requires for certain books to be cited.
- Returning videotapes
Through the ’80s and ’90s, college students would spend late nights perusing the aisles of video stores, looking for the latest and greatest hits to view during their downtime. It was imperative they returned the videotapes in a timely manner; otherwise they would face late fees, which would put a dent their nearly empty bank accounts. And, of course, the tapes had to be rewound. Students today use torrents and sites like Netflix, and they never have to leave their dorm suites.
- Cash only
No longer are trips to the ATM a necessary weekly occurrence. There are very few situations in which cash is needed, so few people carry bills in their wallets. Everyone with a bank account owns a debit card, so wads of cash aren’t needed by college students for activities like barhopping. Instead, they use their debit cards for everything, including bar tabs, which grow as more beer and shots are downed, causing future meals to be sacrificed due to the limited funds that remain.
- Reliance on a wristwatch
Cell phones have ensured that people no longer uses wristwatches for time-telling purposes. Watches are no different than any piece of jewelry – they’re aesthetically-pleasing items that are worn fashionably. But it doesn’t seem to be a trend for 18-year-olds to own one, and with their cell phones always in their palms, they always know the time.