Everything changes. I know that, you know that, we all know that. Times change, things evolve, and very few things are the same as they used to be – and that's especially true of college life. To all my little college age dahlins, you have no idea how different college life was back in the days of your parents. In many ways, I'd say you've got the better end of the deal. In others, I'd have to advance the opinion that you're woefully lacking. I'm going to reveal some of the most fundamental ways college life has changed dramatically – and I'll leave it up to y'all to decide what was better then, and what's better now.
Then: Your parents were very well acquainted with the library in college – probably more intimately than college students today will ever have the chance to be. They had to immerse themselves in the scents and textures of old research books and encyclopedias, risking paper cuts and overdue fees, just to get an A.
Now: I have one word for you. Wikipedia.
Then: When your parents wanted to keep in touch with their parents, their high school friends at other colleges, and their college friends who came from far away states, they had to do something amazing. They had to write all their letters by hand, and then mail them. In an envelope. With a stamp!
Now: Today, keeping in touch is all about Facebook – and, to a lesser extent, Twitter, Tumblr, MySpace, and email, of course.
Then: Speaking of keeping in touch, back in the day, dorm rooms were very rarely equipped with their own phones. Instead, college kids had to go down into the lounge or common area, pump some change into a payphone (or make a collect call, if their folks really loved them), and make a call that way. Having frequently used payphones for a variety of reasons, I can tell you that this sucked. I hate payphones.
Now: Calling? What? Now, you just text.
Then: Depending on how old your parents are, they may have protested against the Vietnam War, or Desert Storm. Even if they didn't, their peers from all over the world may have been doing it – or any of dozens of other important causes.
Now: I'm not going to say this generation has nothing to believe in, or that they don't fight for good causes. Many of them do, and you guys are awesome. But a lot of this generation takes a sarcastic hipster point of view. So now they protest for better cafeteria food. No more mystery meat, man!
Then: Back in the bygone days, when your parents wanted to daydream and goof off while their professors were droning on and on and on, they doodled in their margins, made little drawings, drew graffiti on their desks, and things like that.
Now: You guys totally have laptops and tablets and cell phones and things in class. You goof off on YouTube and Tumblr – don't deny it!
Then: Again, this one depends on age. Your folks almost certainly had a radio, however – and it might have been a boombox! Some of them had cassette tapes, while others were lucky enough to have CDs, probably played in ginormous, bulky players.
Now: It's all about the mp3s, baby. iPods ftw!
Then: Back then, your parents were the height of cool. They make hipsters look like geeks. Why? Because of self-published 'zines, my friends. They were the vanguard, and if your parents actively participated in the running and publication of a DIY magazine, you should build a shrine to their awesomeness.
Now: Blogs, baby. Blogs.
Then: When your parents were in college and they wanted to hang out with their friends, they did it face to face. Groups of real life people got together in the lounge or the common or the quad, and actually interacted with each other. In real time!
Now: Hello? Facetime!
There are lots of ways college life has changed dramatically and, like I said, some of them are better, while others are for the worst. Once more, I leave it up to you to decide. Regardless, doesn't this make you think hard about the nature of time? No matter what, though, for those of you currently in college, I encourage you to do one thing for me: live it up!
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