Here's the thing. Professors like me try to connect with our students on the level of the mass culture with which they are presumably in tune, and with which we occasionally come into glancing contact. We like to throw the odd pop culture reference in there to show that we have not completely retreated to our ivory towers.
And when we talk about the culture in which we believe our students to be immersed, we talk about TV. Because the kids watch TV all the time, unlike us. That is what defines the difference between our generation and theirs.
But here's the thing. College students don't watch TV.
We should know this. Did we watch TV when we were in college? No, we did not. There was no time. We didn't spend our evenings in the lounge (or these days, in our dorm rooms) absorbing show after show. We were out doing stuff, socializing, going to parties, studying, working. TV is a home thing. It's not a dorm thing.
And so every time I ask students about the TV they watch, I get the same response: "I used to watch a lot of TV, but I don't anymore." This just after I've made some intended-to-be-current reference to 24 or Project Runway. Blank looks.
Today I asked my writing class who watched the Super Bowl. 20% watched it. 40% watched a few minutes here and there. 40% didn't watch any at all because they were at their jobs.
The Super Bowl. The one television event when even people who don't watch television, watch television. And college students don't watch it.
Exactly what mass media phenomena am I supposed to reference to connect with the kids these days?