"the majority of the generation preceeding mine"
It isn't just any one generation. Some students in my (university) Introduction to the Internet class have trouble grasping the concept that the Internet includes other things than the World Wide Web. Especially those who click on mailto links in a web browser (which in our public lab is not set up to do e-mail, as you would have to go into the settings and change the return address for each user) and, on receiving an error message, say "the web site didn't work."
There are also cases like those of expanets.com, which has various advertisements spelling their address "firstname.lastname@example.org" (which when I try it, gives an error message if you actually type it in that way). Apparently no one explained to them that all those symbols actually mean something.