Millennials grew up in a time of rapidly changing technology. They were the first generation to have computer labs and access to the internet to help with school projects, but they were also old enough to remember life without constant connectivity.
The rapidly changing landscape meant many things they learned in school (and life) no longer matter.
Memorizing Phone Numbers
As Millennial children, we needed to memorize our home phone number, best friend’s number, emergency numbers, and any other phone number we might need.
Many of us remember our childhood phone numbers but can’t tell you our partner’s phone number.
First-generation cell phones didn’t have fancy keyboards or swipe functionality. Instead, they had the traditional 9-number keypad, with each number representing 3-4 letters.
Millennials became expert texters on the 9-digit keypad. Our thumbs may have been sore, but we learned to type out those messages with fantastic speed.
New cell phones make texting more accessible, and the T9 skills we mastered are now obsolete.
Gen X had their mixed tapes, Gen Z has their Spotify playlists, but Millennials had CD burners. We learned how to grab music from our favorite tapes (or online sharing platform) and burn them into a CD to have our own version of the mixed tape.
Memorizing TV Channels
Before streaming, we had cable. There were hundreds of channels, but most showed horrible programming nobody watched. Most of us generally stuck to 5-10 favorite channels, but discovering what was on those channels was a nightmare.
The TV Guide channel was our best resource, but the slow-scrolling platform took forever to reach the 1-2 channels we cared about. We needed to memorize our favorite channels and watch TV Guide like a hawk to find out when our favorite shows would air.
Kids these days, with their instant access to anything they want to watch, will never know the struggle.
Millennials were the first generation to use early PowerPoint presentations for school projects and quickly learned how to make them shine with Word Art and Clip Art.
With all the advances in design software, this skill is nearly obsolete, though PowerPoint still has some options for those who don’t want to give it up.
Operating Floppy Disks
Some younger folks don’t even recognize the imagery from the ubiquitous save icon. The floppy disk was one of the first ways to save progress on a computer and transport it to another system.
Millennials quickly learned to format these disks, reserve disk space, and manage their files. Floppy disks faded with the advancements of CDS, and now that we have cloud storage and thumb drives, nobody even thinks about the original floppies anymore.
Millennials used real encyclopedias when writing research papers. Its much harder to find a source when you have to scour through pages upon pages of written text.
Industrious Millennials developed a hot crafting trend. We made little lizards out of beads to showcase our artistic abilities.
Programming the VCR
Do you remember when recording it on the VCR was the only way to ensure you didn’t miss a show?
Those machines were life savers but weirdly challenging to operate. You had to ensure the clock time was correct and program the exact right record time, or you’d miss the latest episode of your favorite show.
Boomers constantly deride younger folks about not knowing cursive. Millennials were among the last generations to learn fancy handwriting in schools, but with advances in digital technology, the skill is no longer needed.
Cleaning the Mouse
The first mice had little roller balls that would fill with gunk. Millennials learned to open the mouse and clean the parts to ensure smooth surfing onine.
Free Collect Calls
Before cell phones, we had payphones. And if you couldn’t pay, you could make a collect call, where the receiver agreed to pay outrageous fees for the honor of taking the call.
The service required you to state your name, so the receiver could decide whether they wanted to accept the fees or not. “Will you accept a collect call from so-and-so”? The automated line would ask.
Millennials learned how to overcome the fees, replacing their name with the message they needed to get across.
The best example is the famous commercial where a new dad calls collect from a hospital.
“Would you like to accept a collect call from we-had-a-baby-its-a-boy?”
The ultimate millennial game had us showcasing our fancy footwork by kicking a ball around, preventing it from touching the ground.
Hacky sack groups filled playgrounds and college campuses in the late 90s/early 2000s, but they’ve gone the way of 8-tracks and VCRs.
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