Article by Yusra Kureshi - Febuary 7, 2018
Your parents nag at you constantly for being on your phone, for not being responsible enough, or for being lazy. Their parents nagged them for not being able to land a job, or for always going out at night. And your grandparents parents probably nagged them for something along those lines as well. All these generations of history, people, and families, and you’ll always find the difference that resides between your parents and you, their parents and yours. The never-ending difference of age, the one thing that envelopes people in society and ties them to their times.
People resemble their times. The folks born in WWI wouldn’t dare to believe in a future like today, and vice versa for us. And in typical western fashion, we’ve noticed the difference, we’ve studied the difference and we’ve even created a label for each society in history. For example, the young kids flaunting war in 1914 are now called the Lost Generation, or the Greatest Generation. The society built from the 1920’s to WWII are called the Silent Generation, and following them our grandparents, the infamous Baby Boomers (1946-1964) who gave way to our parents, Generation X (1965-1980). The societies that separated them reaped off of their goods, and until recently everyone was busy scolding the Millennials (1980-1994). Now that they’ve moved on, made their mark on the previous generations opinions, showed what they can amount to, the world has switched their attention to a much younger group, and surprise, it's you they're looking at now.
What does that mean then? Who are we, in the eyes of the media and the current world? According to Mannheim's Theory of Generations, generations change because of major events, and according to the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory, generations are categorized and given characteristics through 4 step cycles and processes containing ‘turnings’, like werewolves or vampires. Both theories have a lot to them, and the details would bore any sane person disinterested in sociology, but these studies of human behaviour both agree that a new generation of the digital transitional world has emerged, and they’re called Generation Z.
To many the name is ridiculous; could they not have come up with a name that had more bravado? Poor naming choices aside, Gen Z are systematically born between 1995- 2010, they’re the definition of the digital era. The oldest of them are at the ripe age of 22, barely having entered the workforce yet, the youngest are around 7 years old, and so far the world doesn’t know what Gen Z will make of it yet, which makes sense. How can a generation of children make a difference? How can you even gather data on a group of people who haven’t even lived past two whole decades at most?
Thats where the catch comes in. Apparently, no matter how annoying old people think the new generation is, they seem to be the most progressive. Meaning that you and I, and every other person entering or leaving high school this year, seems to be at least twice more open minded than the generation before us. According to Michael Woods of 747 Insights in a recent Business Insider article by Libby Kane, Gen Z are “Millennials on Steroids”, they actively voice the same opinions of sexual identity, race, gender equality, age and et cetera just a lot more. Gen Z have less patriotism for their government in western society and higher marketing techniques, they are the new wave of young entrepreneurs, planting their businesses seamlessly on every social media platform. They keep the world within the internet alive, and in a good way. They bring in the demand for technology, and they may as well be the cause for more technological development, just because they know more and are enthusiastic to do more. They aren’t always accepting to every piece of news they come across, and social media is a tool they use a lot more differently than Millennials did, in both a good and bad way.
An article on Generation Play by Jeff Roach states that Gen Z embrace diversity in different ways, in fact diversity is something they believe to live within. They challenge gender roles and focus on bringing the society together as people, not creating sectors or useless labels. Which is true. Imagine if one of your classmates was blatantly racist, how accepted would they be? Not as easily I hope, solely because nobody believes racism to be a thing anymore, as we say, its 2017, who even does that anymore? People believe Gen Z, within all the digital phenomenon and ‘obsession’, learn differently, and rather than being dreamers they’re realists. They realize that everything isn’t possible, but you can try, which also makes them optimistic. They are believed to be more independent, adamant to pay for their own things rather than borrow money, which many of the readers of this article can relate with. How many of you tend to pay for your own clothes? Phone bill? Food when you go out with friends?
Despite all that's been said, it's hard to actually believe anything that the pros state. The media dubs Gen Z as the digital era, and they're not wrong, but many of you look around and think, this is the future? An adult I know calls Gen Z the ‘confused’ generation, just because they believe Gen Z has the drive but no direction. Do they (Gen Z) know where they’re going? Does the future seem very promising with them leading it? Even if their acceptance of others differences is what drives the new generation, how about their setbacks? Can they really push forward when a world of uncertainty and fast paced technological development lays ahead of them? Can these often slow minded youngsters, filled with the lack of knowledge for the real world, really bring a healthy economy and steady influence of diversity to the coming years?
It’s a doubtful set of questions for many, and maybe a very very confusing set of questions for some. But it's the hard truth, this new generation of tiny children to new adults, these digital fans and confusing ‘leaders’ of the future, within what they experience every day through the economy and society, what could they possibly amount to? The answer is simple, don’t ponder over it too much, just wait another decade or so and then ask the same question once again, you’ll get your answer.