The Oregon Trail Generation or I’m no Xennial

A lot of Facebook posts have been going around about a new article that has named the micro-generation from 1977–1983. This micro-generation has a few interesting things that make it distinct from the generations that are on both sides of it -Gen X-ers and Millennials. Each of these two generations has their identified properties according to the time in which they were born, many of which have been discussed ad-nauseum. But my generation, my micro-generation falls in the gap.

We are the middle children riding the hump in the backseat of the our parents’ sedan, understand each generation on either side of us, but knowing we are not part of neither of them.

We are the generation that still know our parent’s landline phone numbers by heart, that got a cell phone after we started driving, but it was strictly for emergencies only, that now have cell phones and wearable tech that are integral in our everyday lives.

We first experienced computers through school on green two tone Apple2s. Though in high school and college we typed every paper we turned in. Now we have a hard time going on vacation without our labtop.

Our siblings, older cousins, and the cool neighborhood friends had an Atari or full sized arcade video game at their house that they let us play with once in a while, but our first video games were played on the classic Nintendo. Some kids, like me, never progressed to the next level of gaming where Mario needed to do more than simply move to the right across the screen. But others are the best gamers and game developers in the world.

We are a sub-set unto ourselves.

Within these six short years in which we were born, our formative years were within the middle of a major transformation in society.

In the article, this distinct micro-generation was named the Xennials. But I simply can’t get behind a label that is just a combo of the names of the generations around us. If we are distinct enough to warrant a name, it shouldn’t be a mashup of our sibling generations. Maybe this is just the feelings of a middle child wanting their own stuff, but we demand to claim our our title.

So here is my proposal –

”The Oregon Trail Generation”

Now hear me out. It is pop culture phenomonom that everyone in this micro-generation can claim to in a way that is entirely our own.

The one and only Oregon Trail Computer Game

Playing Oregon Trail was the reward for our generation. At school it was what egged us to speed through typing requirements and math programs. If we finished before the end of class, we could go and get that big floppy disc that held the treat that was Oregon Trail. We named our characters funny things when the teacher wasn’t looking and were sad when the character with our own name died of dysentery. But really through all of this we learn of the new world that was quickly forming around us. Through a game we saw a bright new world that could live within a computer and we saw how we could shape the outcome according to how we directed it.

In their book The Fourth Transformation, Shel Israel and Robert Scoble wrote of “the Minecraft Generation” for the current micro-generation of kids in elementary and junior high school that are growing up during the establishment of ubiquitous internet and burgeoning augmented reality.

Minecraft world

And it makes total sense. These kids are learning to build not just direct their own worlds through this game. It is truly an embodiment of the transformation that is going on in the world right now.

In this same way our micro-generation can be pinpointed to a specific element of our culture that is part of our DNA.

So call us what you will. But for myself, I claim “The Oregon Trial” Generation.

This blog post can also be found on Medium.


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