How To Feel Old

Published on Sunday, August 23, 2009 in , , ,

HourglassBear with me, as this is a rather unusual post for Grey Matters. Recently, I came across five things that made me feel old. Strangely, they also share a good sense of fun.

I post quote a bit about the memory and even calendars, but this post is about why these concepts can have such a powerful effect on your audience.

When memories get placed in the context of a calendar, you can evoke powerful memories. For example, take a look at When We Were Kids, a 20th century nostalgia site. It's divided up as a conceptual grid, with categories like music, movies, television, culture, and people as one axis, and the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s as the other. This is a British site, so the focus is largely on the British experience, but there's plenty on that site for just about anyone to reminisce over.

Looking through archives is also a good way to see just how much time has passed an exactly what has happened. TIME Magazine's Birthday Cover Search is good way to find out what was happening not just when you were born, but for any date. For example, when I was born, people were just learning about young up and coming music conductor Zubin Mehta, who is now 73 and has been the chief conductor at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Italy for almost 25 years now.

Josh Hosler provides a similar service, but his list is of the number 1 songs for any date, as ranked by Billboard Magazine. Not only can you find the song ranked #1 when you were born, but now you can listen to it, as well. What's the number 1 song when I was born? Judy in Disguise (With Glasses) - which I'd never heard of before I looked it up.

It's one thing to look back at your own life, though and remembering those long-ago concepts. If you want a real shocker, however, take a look at the life of someone younger than you, and find out what they don't remember.

Earlier this week, as they do every year when school starts, Wisconsin's Beloit College releases their Mindset List. This list details the historical events and people that this year's incoming college freshmen couldn't possibly remember, as well as newer concepts that have always been true for them. Here's the Mindset List for the Class of 2013.

Going through the archives of this list is also an eye-opener. For example, if you're old enough to remember watching the fall of the Berlin Wall, it's amazing to realize that it happened before this year's college freshmen were born.

Those are the first 4 discoveries that made me feel old. What's the 5th? Well, that gets it's own post, which you'll see this coming Thursday.

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