Apparently, one of the big concerns by advertising professionals is whether an ad campaign is “current” and not “dated.” I’ve also heard this being voiced about cover art on books, and how political campaigns are being conducted, particularly after the recent election, despite the fact that the furor over the Electoral College is anything but new or recent.

Even though I don’t drink beer, I really liked and appreciated the Anheuser-Busch commercials which featured their Clydesdale horses. So did all of our beer-drinking friends, but it appears that all of us are “dated,” because using gentle humor, good feelings, and horses was just not appealing to the current generation, a generation that I find less than appealing if they’re actually motivated to buy beer based on dumb commercials featuring clueless young males.

I’ve also heard that Facebook is becoming dated, and that email is almost passe among the younger generations and that communications are largely carried out through tweets and somethings called Snapchat and Instagram, and that websites such as mine, which actually discusses matters in far too many words, are positively antediluvian. It would appear that written communications of more than 128 characters are also “dated.”

Knowledge of history is also clearly “dated,” given that the vast majority of college students on the local university campus have no idea about the civil rights violence of the 1960s and 1970s, the Great Depression, the causes and results of either World War I, World War II, or Vietnam. Music majors seem to arrive at college knowing little about any music except rote-rhythm pop, and seem unable to learn or memorize melodic lines of more than four bars without what seems to them to be excruciating effort, while Hamilton has become the only history lesson many students even want to pay attention to.

Printed newspapers are becoming dated as well, and magazines are in the process of following that trend. And now, a number of school systems aren’t teaching cursive writing, presumably since it’s also dated, despite recent scientific studies showing that writing actually enhances memory and learning.

But then, as the recent election just demonstrated, facts and knowledge are also dated.

19 thoughts on “Dated?”

  1. Bob Walters says:

    And yet millennials are almost unanimously against Trump. As to higher education I think it depends on where one attends college or university. My son just graduated from University of California at Santa Cruz with a BA in politics and his classes were well done and the professors knowledgeable. Nonetheless, far too many care too much about engineering and economics and far too little about history and political science.

  2. Wine Guy says:

    History is at least touched upon from time to time. What I wouldn’t give to inflict Civics on kids age 8-24.

    There’s a big test every year, usually in November. There’s no way to tell if you pass for up to 20-50 years beyond that.

  3. JM says:

    As a millennial I must ask: What is the purpose of cursive? How does knowing how to read/write in cursive better me as an individual?

    I personally have found standard print to be neater and far easier to read in comparison.

    To address your actual post: Yes, millennial struggle with any kind of writing of moderate to great length that includes proper grammar and good word choice.

    My theory on the cause: A lack of literature during their younger years. I had a classmate in high school proudly proclaimed to me that he hadn’t read a book in 5 years. I haven’t the faintest clue why he was proud of it. Personally I average about a novel (400-600pgs) per week. Sometimes two when I’m really into an authors work.

    Back to the point: Your average millennial takes in very little actual literature as school teaches them at a young age that reading is a form of “homework” that you get graded on. As such they hardly ever pick up a book for the sake of just reading it.

    Such are my thoughts. Discuss away.

    1. Alan Naylor says:


      It’s been documented by more than one researcher that reading dies out quickly once children leave school. A few statistics for you:

      – More than half of adults say they read less than 10 books a year.
      – 1/3rd of adults do not read anything after graduating high school.
      – 2/5ths of college graduates do not read any books after college.
      – 3/4ths of the adult population have not been to a book store or the library since graduation.

      And for those who do read, you gain the following benefits:
      Readers do better in all subjects including science, math, history and civics
      Provides higher verbal ability and better college readiness and success
      School work is easier for readers–readers are more likely to stay in school
      Stronger civic and cultural engagement including volunteering and voting
      Leads to better workplace readiness and performance
      Reading is a deep source of joy and curiosity which can increases our imagination, creativity, empathy and understanding

      Standard print may be easier for you to read and for others to understand(I know my handwriting is very messy and looks like a doctor’s scrawl) but it has benefits as well. A number of studies show a range of benefits from small to larger impact but they generally agree that hand writing allows us to do several things.

      – We learn better when we write things out. Most people learn best by doing, absent the ability to do, hearing it, reading it and writing it down, repeatedly doing all three, is the best way to force information into our heads.
      – Writing forces our minds to be engaged in what we are doing, making us think.
      – Handwriting helps to develop the mind’s ability to write in a clear and intelligent fashion.
      – Keeps the brain active and involved, especially as we get older, reducing the chance of age infirming effects on the mind.
      – Writing in cursive helps people to integrate knowledge and share ideas.

      Not every advance really helps us. Some things are certainly useful, and I do not deny that there are advantages to short hand, as well as social media versions of it. I can remember having to memorize the multiplication tables and square roots, which hold no real use for many people. However I work in a math heavy field, I’ve used Pythagoras’s theorem and other things most have long since forgotten.

      I’m fairly confident that schools should not be writing off cursive as passé and pointless. I’ve seen the results of this in my college classes, especially in mandatory core writing classes. I cringed when I had to do peer reviews. I cannot imagine how the professor stands to read such poorly written, poorly scanned, insensible drivel. I do not claim to be a virtuoso, but many of the students make my meager attempts at writing seem to be truly inspired.

      The same students, some of whom I shared other classes with, produced truly abysmal written work for physics and chemistry. They could not communicate their ideas and did not understand what they were doing. What young people are learning and bringing to college with them very clearly demonstrates the results of the education system being dictated by those with no understanding of it.

      Bringing in power point lectures, fill in the blank/multiple choice tests while doing away with essay style questions has definitely hurt our society.

      1. Frank says:

        I understand that you are using statistical information, for which there are so many retorts as to be trite, however, the quoted items from above:

        “More than half of adults say they read less than 10 books a year.
        – 1/3rd of adults do not read anything after graduating high school.
        – 2/5ths of college graduates do not read any books after college.
        – 3/4ths of the adult population have not been to a book store or the library since graduation.”

        Are these real studies? If so, things are much worse than I ever thought. I remember the guy in HS that bragged that he “never read a book,” I think we all do, but that was a caricature even if a real guy, and the one I knew changed as he grew up. But that 40% of college graduates don’t read any books, or 75% of all adults haven’t gone to a library or book store…seems incredible. Are you counting Amazon and other book sellers on line? I can see the shift to online shopping, but not at all seems hard to believe.

        I’m not trying to be critical, I’m just amazed, and knowing how the folks on this blog don’t usually put up with bad information, the fact no one has questioned this is chilling.

        1. Here are a few statistics I dug up. According to the Neilsen bookscan data, supposedly representing 85% of all sales, in 2015, American adults bought 571 million paper books [hardcover, trade paper, mass market paper, graphic novels, and adult coloring books]. Other publishing data claims that e-books represent 33% of the market. That would make the total market around 860 million books in paper or ebooks purchased by adults. Slightly over a billion books were purchased for children. Current Census data estimates the U.S. adult population at 245 million individuals, which suggests that on average, American adults buy less than four books a year. A recent Pew study showed that 27% of all U.S. adults had not read a book in the last year, while a Huff/YouGov poll showed that 41% of all U.S. adults had not read a fiction book in the past year. Another study showed that 35% of all U.S. adults had not bought a single book in the past year, and another 15% had bought only one.

          Pew also reported that the number of non-readers has increased steadily since 1978, when only eight percent of the adult population had not read a single book in the previous year.

          1. Frank says:

            It is such a shame and a waste. I can understand lack of access, lack of time, even lack of education, but when all those are available, it is a very sad waste of human imagination.

            I remember my first “special effect,” when I was reading Stranger in a Strange Land. Heinlein’s description of how Smith made something “go away” was so good that my imagination took over and I “saw” the action. I was captivated, thrilled and became a SF/Fantasy addict to this day.

            I love SF films with special effects, but that’s in large part because, as they continue to become better and better, they approach, but never equal, the special effects that a great author gives us directly into our imagination.

            Thanks for being one of those authors.

          2. Joe says:

            Are these new books only?

            If so they will underestimate the count by:

            * books borrowed from libraries

            * used books

          3. Alan Naylor says:

            My information came from Gallup polls, the Jenkins Group and Smithsonian research. Now, take statistics for what they are (Bearing in mind recent polling results versus the election results!) but there is probably some truth to the numbers. When I looked at the numbers provided I did question what segment of the population was surveyed and what mediums of reading they considered. The Gallup poll, for instance, surveyed just over 2000 people split into ten locations, covering a range of economic areas and ethnicities. It also included an online component.

            Your friend who said that he hadn’t read a book is far from unique.

            Part of what throws these numbers off is the average and the median. The average number of books read in the last year is 12. The median, however, is 4. Book lovers who are reading 4-6 books a month skew the numbers on the average.

            For those who don’t know, the Jenkins Group is an independent book publishing group. Their numbers are a bit higher than other poll numbers, but after speaking with students, friends and co-workers I don’t see that they’re likely that far off from my personal observations, either. Especially after a number of polls from a wide variety of organizations across the spectrum of reliability report the same general trends. I.e. fewer people are reading (across all spectra of society), fewer people are going to libraries/book stores, and fewer people are interested in reading once past the point of being forced to by primary education.

    2. Trish Henry says:

      It’s my understanding that cursive was created to write faster. Letters join up so you don’t have to lift the pen from the page so often. Also, at the time (Charlemain?) it made writing more standard and so easier to read by different hands. Anyway, now we type or even speak into phones and computers, which is even faster and easier to read. It will be interesting to see how this evolves. If technology makes us less literate because it’s easier to get standardized information (whether the info is fact based or post-truth).

  4. Lydia says:

    As a pre millennial I do see artistry in cursive, but not much of a point for day to day living, much like the latin and greek I was taught and enjoyed at the time. As our world changes around us, we all have to pick up many new skills and therefore some old ones must go. We continuously adapt to new ways of doing things. Its exhilarating what you can easily do these days that used to be very hard before new technologies came along.

    On the matter of social media my oldest has informed methat facebook is for old people, and because I keep an eye on her online behaviour I did join instagram. During the past election season its been a far less vitriolic social experience than Facebook has been. Twitter is considered passé too, although I find it a very useful tool for evening the power balance when you have a complaint about a corporate. They are far more likely to give you customer service if you point out a problem publicly.

    Just because my children enjoy certain aspects of social media, does not mean that they dont read longform material both in hard copy and in electronc format. I would agree with JM that there may be a correlation with having been taught at home before the advent of literature as homework that reading is fun.

    My point is there is a place for short to the point non laborious forms of content and for long form content. Both forms will continue to be relevant as long as relevant content gets created and consumed. Its up to those who love long form to pass that love on to others.

  5. Tim says:

    On cursive writing, I will admit I rarely use it now. I do when writing letters of condolence as it is more personal.

    I remember at school using log tables and then the far more inaccurate slide rule. I also remember the furore when calculators were allowed into examinations; they were consided a dumbing down of the intellect.

    I wonder if anyone on this site can do a square root by hand? And do they need to?

    Maybe times are changing enough to lose cursive writing In the same way we dispensed with vinyl, cassettes and ink-filled pens.

    1. James Hansen says:

      What I find interesting is when the tendency to move from log table to calculator is reversed…

      When I graduated high school in 2009, I did so using a graphics calculator that could solve quadratic functions/etc. However when I started university, studying engineering, the calculator we were required to use was a very simple scientific model (adds, subtracts, multiplies and finds powers/ roots)

      The purpose of this was obviously to try and engage more of our brains in the “actual” math, though even after graduating I’m not certain I gained anything from the choice.

      Certainly, if I had to solve a complex problem in the workforce, I’d use a computer, or my still useful graphics calculator from high school.

  6. James Hansen says:

    I think writing things down without a doubt helps in memory retention (at least for me)
    But I haven’t used cursive since I was taught it in primary school.

  7. Trish Henry says:

    It kind of sounds like the little crystal in our palms have turned black without our realizing it. I wonder if Cirque du Soleil is dated too. At least then we wouldn’t have to attend Circus.

  8. John Prigent says:

    For what it’s worth, at 76 I still write everything on paper in cursive from shopping lists to letters and the addresses on their envelopes. Anyway, how can anyone _sign_ a form or letter without using cursive? Are we going back to ‘X, his mark’?

  9. darcherd says:

    I’m much less disturbed by the general abandonment of cursive in favor of printing block letters by hand than I am with those statistics about the lack of reading by an increasingly large proportion of society. Yes, the act of writing information down does help one retain it in memory, but I seriously doubt whether memory is significantly more improved if something is written in cursive rather than printing.

    But for all you conspiracy theorists out there, note that a population that refuses to read is much more easy to control.

  10. Devildog says:

    I still read but nowhere near as much as i used to. I used to average one book a month. Now it is maybe 3 or 4 a year. I still read mags and newspapers and blogs but I have very little drive to read the books that I used to read in school, But, some old books are still worth reading. It should be mandatory the all incoming Presidents read the Peloponnesian Wars by Thucydides. I have read it twice (both times for school) and the lessons for our great experiment in government are staggering.

  11. Guy Thomas says:

    I have to say that I feel I am an avid reader but if I were polled on the frequency I buy books it might look much different. As a high school/college student (back in the 70s and 80s) I bought paperbacks without a thought, however as time passed and prices rose from around a dollar to $1.75, $1.95, $2.25, $2.75… in excess of 4 to 5 dollars and much more these days, I bought fewer and fewer books, a cause of much hand wringing on my part because I want to support authors. These days most of the books I read, at least one a week, are copies I already own or come from the library.

    I still visit bookstores regularly though, I can’t imagine not doing that and will buy bargain books or the occasional splurge on a new book by a favorite author or on a subject I am interested in. Oddly, I do often have some issues getting into the writing style of works of fiction written by authors who have come of age much later than me, and in some cases weren’t even born when I graduated from college. Perhaps because I grew up and came of age in a rather pre-computer/internet society?

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