Cumberland Times-News

August 25, 2012

They don’t even know that they don’t know

Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— The Associated Press has confirmed what my contemporaries and I have long suspected: Today’s young’uns don’t see things the same way we do and aren’t aware of some of what we know (and probably could care less).

AP reported that this year’s Beloit College Mindset List serves as “a nonscientific compilation ... meant to remind teachers that college freshmen, born mostly in 1994, see the world in a much different way.”

It refers to carbon paper and suitcases that had to be carried, instead of rolled, and says, “The Class of 2016 has no need for radios, watches television everywhere except on actual TV sets and is addicted to ‘electronic narcotics.’ ”

My friends and I also have observed that some younger people cannot tell time on a watch that has hands and a dial instead of digital numbers. (Forget making change.)

Others do not realize that when the battery on your electronic car key has died, you still can gain entry to your automobile by sticking key’s metal prong into the lock and turning it.

Once when the newsroom was undergoing a night-long succession of weird events, I said “Somewhere, Rod Serling is looking down at us and laughing his (beast of burden) off.”

“Who’s that?” asked one of my younger co-workers.

The AP report says, “To them, ‘Twilight Zone’ is about vampires,” but in fairness adds that this isn’t the case with all of them.

Some are “insulted by the insinuation that they had no knowledge of events that happened before they were born.”

Our travels to Gettysburg as Civil War living historians has proven to my friends and me that some young folks have a fairly good handle on things ... but others don’t have a clue.

Some look at our blue Union uniforms and ask what they are. On the other hand, an adult asked me the same thing after I gave a Veterans Day speech — and he was a veteran.

Still, with age comes wisdom, and some of the wisdom I’ve accumulated tells me that life is a continuous learning process.

We often hear that schools aren’t teaching youngsters what they need to know.

My parents were teachers, and their philosophy was that schools can’t teach their students everything. What they must do is introduce them to the process of learning by showing them how to learn and inspiring them to do so.

AP also points out that young people “don’t waste time with outdated technologies like radios and point-and-shoot cameras.”

When I learned photography, the only point-and-shoot cameras then in existence were Polaroids and Kodak’s Brownie Hawkeyes. Exposure settings and focusing had to be done manually on the cameras I used.

Technology and our use of it progresses. The firearms I grew up with were fed with ready-made cartridges that held bullet, powder and primer. If someone had handed me a flintlock rifle, I wouldn’t have known how to properly load and fire it.

Some things have improved. AP said students today “are also accustomed to seeing women in a position of leadership.” About time.

The theory prevalent when I was in college held that most women went there to become teachers and nurses or to find a husband.

There may have been some truth to that, but not in the journalism school at Potomac State College and West Virginia University.

My female schoolmates were there for the most part to become professional journalists, and from what I can tell a significant number of them have gone on to successful careers — if not as reporters, then in some other field.

AP also says “The old Hollywood stereotype of ditzy blonde women has given way to one of ‘dumb and dumber males.’ ” I guess that means the day of blonde jokes is about over.

In the interest of a dying tradition, therefore, I will pass on to you this list of blonde jokes. It also contains reference to blond men.

• A friend tells a blonde, “Christmas is on a Friday this year.” The blonde says, “Let’s hope it’s not the 13th.”

• Two blondes find three hand grenades and decide to take them to a police station. One asks, “What if one explodes before we get there?” The other says, “We’ll lie and say we only found two.”

• A woman phones her blonde neighbor and says, “Close your curtains the next time you and your husband are having sex. The whole street was watching and laughing at you yesterday.” The blonde says, “The joke’s on you because I wasn’t even at home yesterday.”

• A blonde is in the bathroom, and her husband calls out, “Did you find the shampoo?” She answers, “Yes, but I’m not sure what to do. It’s for dry hair and I’ve just wet mine.”

• A blonde goes to the veterinarian with her goldfish. “It’s having seizures,” she tells the vet. The vet takes a look and says, “It seems calm enough to me.” The blonde says, “Wait until I take it out of the bowl.”

 • A blond man spies a letter lying on his doormat. It says on the envelope, “DO NOT BEND.” He spends the next two hours trying to figure out how to pick it up.

• A blond man shouts frantically into the phone, “My wife is pregnant, and her contractions are only two minutes apart!” The doctor asks, “Is this her first child?” To which he replies, “No!” This is her husband!”

• A blonde takes her new car back to the dealer and tells the mechanic it drives perfectly during the day, but won’t move at night. The mechanic takes it for a test-drive and returns to tell her it works perfectly. He asks, “Are you using the right gears?” She says, “Of course, I am. I use D during the day and N at night.”

• A blonde is driving home. Suddenly she swerves to avoid a tree, then another, then another. A cop car pulls her over, so she tells him about the trees in the road. He says, “That’s your air freshener swinging around!”

• A blonde’s dog goes missing. Her husband says, “Why don’t you put an ad in the paper?” She does, but two weeks later, the dog is still missing. Her husband asks, “What did you put in the paper?” She replies, “Here, Scooby!”

• An Italian tourist asks a blonde, “Why do American scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats?” To which the blonde replies, “If they fell forward, they’d still be in the boat.”

I hate to admit this, but I had to think about the last one for a few moments ... and you know, it actually makes sense.