The Silent Generation grew up during the Great Depression. Living in a world struck by war and economic conflict, they often had to go without. Not surprisingly, social status seems to be very defining to this generation, and they might be more conscious of it than anyone else due to the conditions they grew up in. This was how they found their identity. Children growing up in this generation were typically patriotic, however many of the most influential civil rights leaders were born into the Silent Generation, such as Gloria Steinem, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
If you skip a few generations, you get to Generation Z, the children of the Millennials, without a widely accepted name. Generation Z includes those born in the late nineties to now. While researching the generation we are apart of, I have come across many names that make sense, such as the Digital Natives and the True Millennials, but there was one name that is not necessarily popular, but continued showing up: the New Silent Generation.
As a first impression, it seems ridiculous that our generation, Generation Z, could even be compared to the original Silent Generation. We typically think of our grandparents and great grandparents as conservative and traditionalist—we all have that super Republican grandfather we dread visiting, right? However, when digging deeper, I found many more similarities than I initially thought.
Born into a world of war, the Silent Generation had no choice but to be globally aware. Similarly, we live in a time where it’s almost impossible not to know what’s happening in your own country and others. Media and technology make it easy to find out what’s going on in the world, and to spread the information. The Silent Generation grew up during the Great Depression, and the majority of us grew up during the Great Recession, the greatest economic crisis since the former. This has made our generation very aware of money and the way it impacts our lives, the same way that the Silent Generation had to be.
But on a different hand, our generation is much more involved with these issues. Technology and platforms such as social media enable us to do more than know about the world’s problems, we can help. Generation Z has been said to be much more passionate than generations of the past, likely to turn hobbies into careers and very likely to harbor the desire to give back.
Unfortunately, due to the technological advances our generation has grown up with, members of the Silent Generation, the Millennials and everyone in between criticizes Generation Z for “being addicted to their phones” and lazy. Anyone over the age of 30 thoroughly enjoys patronizing Generation Z, acting high and mighty because they grew up in a time of economic stability with lesser technology. Even members of Generation Z themselves have picked up this attitude from their parents and grandparents, claiming that they hate our generation and wished they grew up in the twentieth century.
This condescension is most likely due to the fact that our generation is not exactly…compliant. We don’t always agree with the way our parents have raised usor the morals that they instill in us from birth, but as soon as we try to develop our own opinions, we are scolded. As a typically progressive and liberal generation, we are more accepting than our predecessors and I personally believe it scares them. Therefore, they believe they can bully us into being quiet—silent.
The ideology that—due to our technology “addiction”—our generation will become the New Silent Generation is inherently wrong. We are not compliant and we are not going to conform with what is expected from us. We will be the generation that demands justice, that screams for equality.
Generation Z will not be silenced.