Amid last Friday’s speculations about Hurricane Irene’s intentions, a library customer and I applauded the spirit of those valiant New Yorkers. We chuckled at one homeowner’s “Good Night, Irene” signboard.
I’ve since wondered how many younger folks got the reference. Though “Goodnight, Irene” predates my generation, we had ample exposure to the song. But then, we also mastered vertical hold adjustment (not a yoga position) and party lines (and I don’t mean the queue outside a popular club). No wonder our children sometimes appear mystified by our cultural references, and we by theirs. As the Beloit College Mindset List annually reminds us, today’s young adults have acquired a very different frame of reference, rich in digital jargon and expertise but devoid of some experiences that the rest of us take for granted.
Reflecting as it does “the world view of entering first year students”, the 2015 list depicts the rarified landscape of entering freshmen who’ve never lived in a world without two women on the Supreme Court, who are more likely to identify Arnold Palmer as a drink than a golfer, and who have never known the Communist Party as the official political party in Russia.
Generational experience, especially as it pertains to the workplace and marketing, makes for some fascinating reading. Our library offers these and other titles:
The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories by Frank Rose
The Boomer Century, 1946-2046: How America’s Most Influential Generation Changed Everything by Richard Croker
Poplorica: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore that Shaped Modern America by Martin J. Smith and Patrick J. Kiger
Our Masterfile Premier database also directed me to this hopeful research: “Generation Gap Narrows, and Beatles are a Bridge”, by Sam Roberts, originally published in The New York Times in 2009.
Reporting a Pew Research Center survey of older adults, Roberts observes that “while 19 percent of older adults recalls that as teenagers they had major disagreements with their parents, only 10 percent say they have similar arguments with their own teenage or young adult children.” There’s considerably more to the survey, and you’ll enjoy all of it. For now I’ll highlight this facet: mutual appreciation of rock music, particularly the Beatles, may actually be facilitating intergenerational understanding.
We can benefit from lessons of history. Many Boomers recall their parents’ wholesale disapproval of any music produced after the 1950s, and they’ve consequently vowed to keep an open mind about their offsprings’ preferences.
Of course, we’re still allowed private opinions that no other songs equal the quality of those produced during our formative years. Such compositions represent unsurpassed levels of significance and lyricism–for example, when in his tribute to the Roller Derby Queen, Jim Croce described her as “built like a ‘fridgerator with a head.”