I’ve never felt like a millennial, but I’ve also never felt like a gen-Xer. Being raised by boomers, I always considered myself more of a gen-Xer, but then a few of the millennial traits fit me well too. The thing that never made sense? Millennials don’t remember life without the internet while gen-Xers grew up without it. But then there’s a small group of us that can relate to both. Thus, the Oregon Trail microgeneration is born.
I read an article once that identified that relatively tiny group of people as the “Oregon Trail Microgeneration.” It includes people born in the late 70s and early 80s. For our first years and into our preteens, we grew up without the internet. We went to the library to do research, and we used the card catalog! We understand the Dewey Decimal System, and we learned to type on typewriters or word processors.
Then, the internet started to grow for personal use, and we got dial-up in our homes. If your sister was on the phone, you couldn’t use the internet at the same time. When you wanted to use the internet, it took minutes to get connected, and if you were lucky, you didn’t get booted every few minutes. If you wanted to search for something on this new, fascinating world wide web, you went to sites like MSN or Yahoo! If you actually found what you were looking for, you rejoiced (because, let’s be honest, that was a miracle).
Now you had all these new options when researching for a paper or talking to your friends (AOL IM anyone?) or just passing the time…until your mom made you disconnect so she could call grandma, of course.
We “Oregon Trail-ers”(?) have this unique understanding of life before the internet that our millennial friends don’t. We understand the value of face-to-face conversation, great customer service, and outside play. Don’t get me wrong – we’re just as attached to our devices as our millennial friends, though. We are tech-savvy, multi-device users who understand the possibilities of being connected. We are indeed unique.
Welcome to this elite microgeneration, Oregon Trail-ers.