by J Scott Christianson, Columbia Daily Tribune Columnist
Well, it is really happening. I’m starting to become an old fuddy-duddy. While I’m not a full-grown coot yet, I can tell that “the change” has started.
I should have seen it coming back in 2004 when Matt Blunt was elected governor at age 33. I always knew there would come a day when Missouri would elect a governor who was several years younger than I, but I had assumed I’d at least have one or two gray hairs by then. I chalked it up to random chance at the time but can see now it was an omen of bad things to come.
This past semester, I had the opportunity to teach an undergraduate Web design course at one of the local institutions of higher learning. Like most people, I still imagined myself as being just as tied into the culture and interests of undergraduates as I was on the day I got my undergraduate degree. But on the first day, I noticed something was different. First off, it didn’t even occur to the students there was a time when there was neither Internet nor laptop computers. They assumed those inventions — which are only about 15 years old — have always existed in the modern world, like running water or indoor plumbing.
The real epiphany came when I gave the students their assignment for the final project — a substantial Web site on a subject of their choosing. Like any good teacher, I tried to provide a concrete, albeit fictional, example of what was expected for their project. My example: a Web site for the Columbia Area Bass-O-Matic Blender club. As I walked the students through the various features and functions of the fictional Web site, they took notes in stoic silence. I assumed they were just nervous about the importance of the project on their grade, and I tried to relieve the tension with some jokes about what alternative uses one could have for a Bass-O-Matic Blender or what such a club would do at its monthly meetings.
Only after another 10 minutes did it occur to me to ask, “You all know what a Bass-O-Matic Blender is, right?” Not one had heard of the classic Dan Ackroyd routine from Saturday Night Live. It was then I realized I was face to face with a group of adults who never knew a time when Ronald Reagan was president, who only know the Cold War as history and who never knew the IBM Selectric typewriter as a marvel of office productivity.
Ironically, I was able to find the Bass-O-Matic routine on YouTube and send it to the…