Baby boomers structured the system. Millennials disrupted the system. Gen Z is here to fix the mess.
Though the starting point of Generation Z (“Gen Z”) is highly disputed, it dances anywhere between 1995 and 2005, meaning millennials watched the birth of YouTube, and Gen Z experienced the dawn of Vine. Millennials enjoyed being the trophy generation, handed participation certificates left and right. Gen Z were forced into an academic, physical and digital world more competitive than any millennial or baby boomer will ever experience. Gen Z simply doesn’t enjoy a lot of the comforts that Baby Boomers and Gen X did, nor will they be able to live the unrealistically hopeful life that millennials do. Gen Z is hungry to fix the system and get ahead, and they might just save the world in the process.
Gen Z isn’t perfect by any stretch. They brought the world “Musical.ly”, insta-fame, diss tracks, and all of the stars that come with them. However, for every Gen-Z member there is making a TikTok, there’s a mob there in the comments that’s equally exasperated with the user as their older counterparts. Growing up in a digital world has simply made broadcasting the trivial actions of youth more accessible, and the ridiculous actions of a small portion of said youth, does not define a generation.
Furthermore, of course there are also unenlightened or not “woke” Gen Z members– it’s not all protesters and visionaries. The difference between Gen Z and previous generations is that there are more looking at the world around them and seeing that there needs to be positive and accepting change. From a young age, members of Generation Z have had access to view the world, see its issues, and interact with people from all walks of life. This digital connectivity fostered a substantial diminishing to the ignorance that plagued many isolated predecessors.
While millennials have been highly observed and scrutinized in the past years, Gen Z has been quietly growing up. Often referred to as “mysterious,” Gen Z has been a confusing, shaky point for brands. This inability to target them has made Gen Z more interesting to companies as corporations abandon their quest to snare the millennials, but instead track the next generation of consumers. From “Forbes” to “Buzzfeed,” Gen Z has suddenly become interesting. In October, Buzzfeed decided they were tired of their catchy “Only 90’s Kids Remember” listicles, and it was instead time to find relatability for the digitized generation. It was time to target Gen Z. “15 Pictures That Will Confuse Millennials, But Not Generation Z-ers” and so on. “Forbes,” “Business Journal,” and “Management Today” are suddenly very interested in Gen Z. The issue is, they don’t know anything about them. One very blunt article titled “Forget Millennials – here are 8 things to know about Gen Z,” listed nothing but general assumptions structured around statistics. Gen Z has unabashedly broadcasted themselves online (yes, it is the generation that brought you stars from apps like Musical.ly, after all). However, companies have been only been aware of how to tap into this digital presence, ignoring the heart of Gen Z’s concerns, values, and issues. The world really didn’t even know who Gen Z was beyond phones and “sensitivity.”
Until Gen Z got mad.
Gen Z as a collective generation recognizes the current state of the world, and is actively attempting to change the situation. Gen Z has no issue with digitalization, and harnessing the power of social media to bring change. One group of teenagers is suing the United States government for ignoring climate change, and the negative impacts on tomorrow. March For Our Lives, an organization birthed on the belief that politics as usual isn’t bringing change, and that the youth is responsible for stepping up and stopping the mass shooting epidemic in America. It started on social media, and acts in person. The march set records, had millions of marchers, and expressed the rage and concern of what many lawmakers previously brushed off as the “whiny generation” or “iGen.” Generation Z has the power of passion , and the internet that can be used in a way that no other generation has has the chance.
There will be nothing left in the future for today’s youth if decisive action isn’t being taken. For Generation Z, it’s not necessarily a desire to save the world, but a necessity.
Photo: Jim Mone/AP