So, everyone knows that we are facing “tough economic times” right now. Blah. I absolutely despise buzzwords. Besides the fact that they are overused by every media pundit and politico, I get a particularly interesting experience from some of my students. Being that I teach the future of America (don’t get me started) how to write college-level papers, I often run into students using buzzwords without having any clue what they mean or where they came from. It is quite alarming how credulous young adults are these days. I have to remind myself that I, too, was one of them once upon a time. Yet, I still see a shift that has occurred over the last ten years. And despite my age, I do have firsthand experience in this. Quite literally, I have been in college in some shape or form for nearly a decade.
The only thing that I can really attribute to this paradigm shift is the fact that these college students were in early elementary school when 9/11 happened. Now, I hate to pull the “9/11 changed the world!!!” card, but I think that really has something to do with it. I was almost out of high school when 9/11 happened and I already had my mind made up about a lot of things. I don’t think we were brought up in such a bubble as these kids were. And as much as I hesitate to blame the Bush years for everything, I was nearly an adult when these sweeping changes happened. College students today, on the other hand, were born in 1993/1994. They really don’t remember what life was like before that event. They were learning how to ride their bikes under the dark cloud of those ridiculous “Terror Threat Levels” that we saw on the news and in airports for a few years after 9/11. “Don’t worry, Sally. Today is only a threat level of blue. You can go outside and play.”
Why do I think that this sort of environment created a different world for these kids? Well, I think that they grew up either fearful or under the impression that, because of the threat of danger, what is repeated over and over again must be true. That rhetoric and propaganda was something that happened in Nazi Germany. I suppose the same could be said for the Baby Boomers who grew up assuming that they would be obliterated in nuclear war before they became adults. My parents certainly felt that way. But the Baby Boomers are responsible for some of the most important social changes in modern American history. Sure, many of them became CEO yuppie types, but a good many of them also were at the forefront of the Civil Rights and Antiwar movements.
I digress. I’m not lambasting college kids. In fact, I feel a twinge of sadness when I hear students so clearly disengaged with their consumption of information. In my classes, I try to teach them to become more active participants in that consumption. I want them to be able to understand that information has an agenda. Whether it is helpful or otherwise is not really the issue here. What is important is that they realize that they are allowed to ask questions and think about what they are being told. Misinformation is spread through those who don’t seek to verify what they hear.
Anyway, I planned on making this about my frustrating online job search, but I instead turned it into a soapbox.
I quite like it, actually.