The death of 90s references: Brace for the class of 2017

This upcoming Saturday is Admitted Students Day for the class of 2017. For a child of the early ’90s, 2017 sounds more like the setting of Back to the Future Part IV than an upcoming graduation date. Parents will don fanny packs and lug around semi-professional cameras, begging their kids to pose in front of every statue, tree and patch of flowers at the College of William and Mary. Available parking will probably reach an all-time low, but I have received so many parking tickets this semester that another would be nothing short of an achievement. For caffeine or mac-and-cheese addicts, I warn that lines at Wawa are predicted to skyrocket to two-minute wait times for the first time all semester. Make sure to let prospective students know Wawa will happen to be closed for the duration of their stay.

On a brighter note, the class of 2017 will also bring with it a new generation of students, bright eyed and ready for all that the post-high school world has to offer. There is one small catch, though.

In a world that now changes more in one month than it would have in a decade a century ago, the incoming generations of students will have been raised in a far different world than the one that we grew up in.

Now weaned on PlayStations, iPads, and the internet (not the 52 times slower dial-up version), these students have been posting Facebook profile pictures since the ripe old age of ten.

Without fail, professors will continue attempting ’80s and ’90s pop culture references, but instead of hesitant laughs, they will soon be greeted with completely humorless and confused expressions.

As the new freshmen move in mid-August, we will be faced with the realization that they know little of *NSYNC or Britney Spears, the trials of floppy disks, or the discomforts of two-pound portable MP3 players. In fact, our childhoods of hide-and-seek and Bop-It will seem alien to them, and I imagine we will have a hard time proving sleepovers that consisted only of Disney Channel, prank phone calls and chocolate milk were all the rage.

As we welcome them to our blooming, pollen-ridden campus, all the while striving to masquerade as a normal student body, there are a few things we should keep in mind.

First and foremost, any nostalgic jokes about AIM screen names or prank phone calls will soon be outdated, due to now archaic inventions such as caller ID and the call-back button. References to beloved shows such as The Simpsons, Friends, Rocket Power or Clifford the Big Red Dog will fall flat; although, reality TV topics after the age of Cribs and Sweet 16 should be safe for now. If things could not seem worse, after decades of use, this generation will likely retire Mario Kart to the shelves of past VHS’s and Nintendo games without a second thought.

Similarly, if my recent Colonial Williamsburg observations were any indicator, jokes about poor middle school skateboard brands, such as Vans, Quiksilver and Roxy, will also fail to resonate. Instead, it looks like we are now in the age of neon socks, TOMS and black leggings mistakenly worn as pants (and on that last note, they will fit right in at the College).

The class of 2017 will be more acquainted with iPads and iPhones than superhero lunch boxes. While most of us already have a cell phone permanently attached to our palms, you should not fear when you see the prospective students send 16 texts in the time it took you to send one. Having mastered the arts of touch screens and Siri commands in early adolescence, their fingers are already adept at reaching lightning speeds that we will never master.

Fortunately, the very things that make our generations different also show how much we have the ability to teach them. The freshmen arriving on campus in a few short months will be largely innocent and clueless, ready to be molded into people that exist outside of high school sports, gossip and the-never-been-kissed anxiety. So instead of turning up your nose at these new hipsters, share your childhood of building blocks and epic Spoon competitions. Show them how easy it is to fall in love with the little things and how important it can be to disconnect. Most importantly, disconnect yourself. Think back to your elementary school years of playground joy, and put away the phone and laptop. Fewer things are more wonderful than taking the time to breathe in the amazing experience that is living. If there were only a few things in life, simplicity and happiness are the two things we will always be able to teach.

AIM screen name cutiecat357 is a Confusion Corner columnist, and has discovered that BRB and LYLAS are unfortunately no longer part of her cell phone’s spellcheck vocabulary.


  1. Except not? I’m sorry, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but I understand every single reference that you’re referencing to, and I’m in the class of 2017. I’m not quite sure what makes you think that we understand references any less than the class of 2016 or 2015. Sure, there may be some people who don’t understand it because their parents just didn’t rear them like that, but that could happen in other years as well. Being in the class of 2017 doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a childhood Britney Spears, the backstreet boys, bop-it, floppy disks, Mario kart, VHS, rocket power, AIM, etc. And I, and many of my classmates, most certainly didn’t use Facebook when we were ten. I’m just not quite sure where you’re getting this assumption from. I think you’re a great columnist, but the over-generalization of this one is just a little too much.

  2. I think this is spot on and was a wonderful walk down memory lane. I miss my bop-it and especially my walkman….but I may or may not still have my Roxy swearshit tucked away in my closet.


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