THE 18-ER FILE: 66 Fascinating Facts About Today’s New Voters and College Students

by Tom McBride

It’s difficult to unteach old dogs old tricks, and this applies particularly to the creators of The Mindset List, Tom McBride (mcbridet@beloit.edu) and Ron Nief (niefr@beloit.edu). Each year about this time we just naturally start thinking about the world we know and how it compares to the world of this year’s high school graduates preparing to head off to college, voting booths, and other great adventures. Their’s is a different world from their mentors and even from those just a few years older.

Therefore, we offer a few of our thoughts drawn from…

THE 18-ER FILE

If you were born in 2004 and turned 18 in 2022, THEN:

  1. You may be the last generation to prefer reality to the metaverse.
  2. You are living on a planet that is two-thirds of a degree warmer than it was when you made your debut on the globe. 
  3. You have probably picked up a little Farsi and Albanian from Google Translate. 
  4. Facebook, hatched the same year you were, hasn’t aged as well as you have and is now a platform frequented by oldsters.
  5. You were born just as the bans on assault style weapons were lifted.
  6. There’s only about a 50/50 chance that you are convinced going to college is a sound investment. 
  7. You are one-third less likely to have a religious affiliation than your parents and grandparents.
  8. You can’t recall when Wikipedia was anything other than reliable and thorough. 
  9. Tablets, whether the ones you turn on or the ones you swallow, have been getting smarter and smarter. 
  10. The United States has lost about 270,000 manufacturing jobs for every year you’ve been alive—increasing pressure to find a job that a robot or algorithm can’t do.
  11. You may be the first generation to conceive a child in the backseat of a self-driving car. 
  12. Your first word might have been “blog,” the word of the year when you were born. 
  13. You have never had the burden of living in a world without highly intelligent watches. 
  14. You are a mammal whose species is not yet extinct, unlike the black rhino, clouded leopard, monk seal, and Banji river dolphin. 
  15. You have no memory of Saddam Hussein. 
  16. You are coming of age when the new “big boxes” are Amazon warehouses. 
  17. Pop-ups have become the digital fruit flies of your generation. 
  18. Your parents were learning how to text while you were learning how to nap. 
  19. You have never lived in a world where “Kindle” was just something you did to a fire. 
  20. You began your days at about the same time that seven countries in Eastern Europe joined NATO—if Vladimir Putin, then 52, had been your dad, he’d have been in a bad mood that day. 
  21. You were in diapers when state senator Barack Obama said with great charisma that he saw one America, not two. 
  22. You might have slept more soundly in your pram if you’d been aware that there never were any WMDs in Iraq to disturb your slumber.
  23. Part of your techno-inheritance is 3-D printing of mini-escalators, Oreo boxes, guns, or your next house.
  24. A spacecraft has been on Saturn as long as you’ve been on Earth. 
  25. One Hour Photo would have always been a little slow for you. 
  26. You barely recall when the family waited for the Netflix envelope to arrive in the mailbox. 
  27. You might, if some prophecies hold up, own a laptop by your 30th birthday that is faster and thinner than the one you have now and that can tell a joke, turn romantic and loving, and even get sexy. 
  28. Inter-racial marriages in the United States have increased by close to ten percent during your lifetime. 
  29. You have never shared the planet with an American president once known as “The Gipper” or with that moody mumbling genius Marlon Brando. 
  30. You can expect to see the inside of an office with ever less frequency, and won’t hold the same job at the same company for more than a few years. 
  31. You’ve made history, having grown up with both the country’s first black, and first autocratic, presidents. 
  32. You’ve thrived, one hopes, in a world where Blockbuster, Lehmann Brothers, Nokia, Borders, and Blackberries have not. 
  33. You can look forward to fewer UPS and Fed-Ex trucks and more drones. 
  34. “Friends” has not “always been there for you,” so you’ve had to settle for re-runs.
  35. Three years before you spoke up, Nancy Pelosi started speaking for the Democrats. 
  36. For your generation, identity affirmation has always been no small thing. 
  37. You can hardly remember when stealing bases was an important part of baseball. 
  38. You’ve grown up on a globe where “Rummy” is not just a card game but also a contentious Secretary of Defense. 
  39. Regrettably, you missed being aware of a Red Sox comeback that had to be seen in order to be believed—but, less regrettably, you also missed a Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction. 
  40. While you were throwing up your formula, water, capable of supporting life, was found on Mars.
  41. Flickr selfies were born the same year you were. 
  42. You may not know that the actress murdered in the shower by Norman Bates (or his “mother”) has been deceased for as long as you’ve been alive. 
  43. You’ll try to refrain, but there’s a fine chance you will be following your exes on social media. 
  44. Fracking went mainstream about the same time that your parents were getting used to you.
  45. In order to be fashionable, you may need to ditch the skinny jeans in favor of leggings or yoga pants. 
  46. Lucky you made your world premiere on a globe with satellite radio, DVRs, HDTV, and I-Pods just waiting for you to ignore them later on in life. 
  47. Between the occasions for your infant needs, your parents might have been following symbologist Robert Langdon trying to determine if Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a baby of their own. 
  48. You have arrived in a land where many of your fellow citizens honor their constitutional liberties by starting their mornings with a true crime podcast.
  49. If you’d been able to blend American TV on the day you were born, you’d have had CSI agents investigating Desperate Housewives while they were addicted to American Idol. 
  50. Little did you know as a new born that Grand Theft Auto V awaited you. 
  51. Climate change may have welcomed you to the world with the first ever tropical cyclone in the South Atlantic. 
  52. Whether to share your password with your partners will become, if it hasn’t already, an existential decision. 
  53. In the digital age you plan to control your healthcare options by using your own digits to punch a smartphone keypad. 
  54. Your birth year saw one of the rare times in recent memory when a Republican actually won the popular vote for president. 
  55. The only credit card receipt on carbon paper you will ever see will be as a bookmark in an old paperback in the attic. 
  56. You have never breathed the same air as did the major Superman star of the 80s. 
  57. If born in Massachusetts, you have always had the right to same-sex marriage as part of your heritage. 
  58. Your parents might have found your birth astounding, but even more so was the documented UFO sighting off the aircraft carrier Nimitz the year you were born. 
  59. You’ve shared the world with thieves who would stoop so low as to filch a painting entitled “Scream.” 
  60. You got an early course on marine biology in Bikini Bottom with Spongebob. 
  61. You are very careful and discriminating about what emojis you use. 
  62. The Europeans were celebrating their first moon satellite as your parents took pride in their newborn. 
  63. You can’t remember a time when you couldn’t speak to someone on the other side of the globe at a moment’s notice. 
  64. You want “exclusivity” more than you want marriage. 
  65. You may well have grown up wondering, along with the experts, why tsunamis of gamma ray bursts from outer space are getting stronger and stronger. 
  66. As your years have increased, so has the percentage of those who believe President Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy, a number that has now reached an all-time high. 

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