Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Beloit Mindset List, again

The latest edition of the Beloit Mindset List is now available. I would call it the 2012 list, but Beloit calls it the 2016 list, to mark the anticipated year of graduation for this fall’s college freshmen. (A bit optimistic, that. Has Beloit not heard of The Five-Year Plan?) The new list, like lists before it, collects odd, tacky, and often unconvincing markers of changing times. A sampling:

“Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes ‘American Royalty.’” News to me.

“Herr Schindler has always had a List; Mr. Spielberg has always had an Oscar.” In other words, Schindler’s List received Oscars in 1994, the year of a hypothetical eighteen-year-old freshman’s birth. This item is particularly tasteless and would be so even without the grotesque pun on Oskar and Oscar. I’m surprised this item withstood institutional scrutiny.

“If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.” No, if “they” — or I — want to catch The Daily Show, the destination is thedailyshow.com.

“They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as ‘tapes.’” The closest we’ve come to this goofy scenario in our household is with the words album and record, which do indeed still describe recorded works, analog or digital.

“Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.” Bauds?

“They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of ‘electronic narcotics.’” Electronic narcotics? No wonder they call it the Information Superhighway. Seriously though, the term “electronic narcotics” has little currency beyond the Beloit Mindset List. A Google search for “electronic narcotics” -beloit -2016 returns a mere 935 results.

My real objection to the Beloit Mindset List though concerns not its particulars but the mindset behind the list. As I wrote in a post on the 2010 (or 2014) list:

What bothers me about the Beloit list involves some unspoken assumptions about reality and young adults. The list reads like a nightmare-version of the proposition that begins Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921): “Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist.” “The world is all that is the case” — all that is the case, that is, in the life-experience of a hypothetical eighteen-year-old American student.
If you want to read more:

Re: the Beloit Mindset List (on the 2010 list)
The Beloit Mindset List: 2011 edition

[In my lifetime, Bix Beiderbecke, Emily Dickinson, Juan Gris, and Fats Waller have always been dead. And the point is — what?]

comments: 4

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare and Jonson have "always" been dead for some centuries now. And this proves what? The "mind-set" list is an attempt to define a herd of people who don't know a number of things. Being an individualist more than a cog in the machine, I and my family cannot fit into the Beloit list, a list I never knew about until your post. Apparently it too had been "dead" though now born to me. Alas, for now I must kill it as kill it I shall. Best wishes.

Michael Leddy said...

Best wishes to you too. We’re probably kindred spirits.

Rachel said...

This list is so dumb.

Michael Leddy said...

Thank you for saying that, RL.