I am Generation Y. Do not millennial me unless you’d like a kick in the teeth. I get that we’re ambiguous. Too young to be Gen X, too old to be Millennials. One article* found on The Atlantic can even be quoted as saying, “Generation Y is a fake, made-up thing. Do not worry about it.” Dicks.
I am generation Y. I was born in 1982 and if you need a unifying identifier that gathers us in unbreakable, non-millennial stature, here it is: We remember being teenagers without the internet, and we remember being teenagers, with it. We’re it, the cusp. The crest of the wave. The forgotten, early 80s-born, un-entitled children of technology’s greatest crossover.
We remember when MTV’s “The Real World” had purpose, when it respected itself. To us, Wayne’s World is more movie than SNL sketch. We recorded Pearl Jam onto cassette tapes when they came on the radio. We listened to the radio.
But we were not single in the 90s.
We were just kids. Most of our sexually formative years involved in-person activity, but don’t think we weren’t on the front lines of the first chatrooms in existence dabbling in what you now call sexting. There was no Tinder in the 90s. No smartphones, no face swiping apps allowing us to thumb through pictures of human beings like shirts on a clothing rack at Marshall’s. If you were old enough to be dating in the 90s, there were phone calls and answering machine messages and blind dates and a sense that if you met someone, you should ask them out, rather than settling into some sense of creepy comfort that you could stalk them on Instagram later.
I pity my generation. We learned about life in one way, and then had to go and live it in another. Today’s teens, those just tiptoeing into the shallow end of attraction and romance, they know what a dating app is. They know that’s how you meet someone to date. It will have never felt weird to them. Quite the opposite, that’s what will feel normal. A phone call from an admirer would make them throw their phone in a river. I still remember getting looks of horror the first time I told someone I was trying “online dating.” They just assumed they’d read about me dead in a newspaper within the month.