Generation Z: Who We Are
- 5 Posts
- Age 18
Generation Z. The generation of children born between 1995 and 2010. We’re the youngest generation on the planet, but one of the most talked about, the most complex, and the one with the highest set of expectations. While the years are sometimes disputed, many agree that now is the time where Generation Z emerges into the workforce. I was born in 2000 on the cusp of the new millennium, and it’s interesting to see how we’ve been analyzed from a young age.
What I’ve failed to see though is any new information from someone who's actually part of Generation Z. With Generation Z going through the education system and soon emerging into the workforce, we must now shift our attention.
The most obvious difference about my generation compared to others is our upbringing in the age of technology. There is no excuse not to learn something because of the internet. We’ve grown up in the social media era too, influenced every day by movements; web activism is HUGE, it’s the culture we’re raised in. Gen Z is one of those most accepting, because we know nothing else.
Along with technology, hypersexualization has greatly influenced us. From music, the marketing of clothing, and the celebrities on the cover of magazines you can’t escape it. Turn on the radio and 9 out of 10 times the song will be about love or sex.
Terrorism has impacted my generation as well in ways almost unexplainable. With 9/11, Columbine, and ISIS, Gen Z is very conscious and security-minded, but also have a desire to change the world because of this: we see things and want to change them. We’ve never known a world without widespread terror: our parents did not have to deal with threats and unrest plastering their news, we do.
What We Like
We love technology. Why? Brand management. Every tweet and Instagram post contributes to our ‘persona’. What we share on social media is an extension of our lives.
Generation Z obsesses over grades, unhealthily. It’s engrained that good grades translate to overall success. Piles of extracurriculars translate to college admission. College translates to ‘success’ in life.
Also, you can’t just be ‘a part’ of something - we like awards, name recognition, plaques, etc. On social media, we want to be tagged. Generation Z likes others to know that they are succeeding. Political correctness has contributed to this. As kids, we were all given participation trophies in soccer, or ‘everyone was a winner.’ Now that I’m in high school, everyone still wants to be a winner, but they never had to work for it before. Thus, success and recognition makes us glow.
What We Don’t Like
Like anyone else in America or even globally, the economy lingers. Student debt, a depleting workforce, and overall economic decline aren’t great for us. The times that we’re going into are frightening to say the least, and we’ve watched our communities struggle, our parents lose jobs, our neighbors lose houses, and the unemployment line grow longer.
Other generations defining ours is something we loathe. Even things like an adult using slang, or the line, “you kids are always on your phone!” Both assume and imply so much. Sure, you can say I just sound like a teenager as I’m writing this, but all of the research I’ve seen is by someone who isn’t from the generation; no one likes others to speak on their behalf. I don’t doubt the competence of Forbes, but it’s vital to have the perspective of Generation Z, ourselves. You cannot view us solely from your perspective.
What We Want
1. Independence. Independence has run in generations before us, but we won’t grow out of it so easily. Sure, we’ll resent our parents, maybe get bad tattoos; I don’t doubt that we’ll bring home boyfriends our parents don’t like and they’ll say “she’ll get over it.” But more importantly, as adults we’ll continue to want to define our own future. Every influence has caused Generation Z to grow up much faster. Thus, we know that we’re in charge of ourselves.
2. Generation Z is realistic. Like stressed before, we’re not only self-aware but also aware of the world around us. We’ll be straightforward, expecting the same back: sugarcoating is unnecessary. Gen Z will question anything. AdWeek summed it up best, “Remember: Gen Z doesn't need you. Gen Z is a more realistic, serious group than the idealistic millennials.”
3. We want change. Forbes said, Generation Z is full of “rebels with a cause”. While the economy scares us, people born in Generation Z would take a job where they felt like they were making a difference as opposed to one that pays more. We’ve learned from millennials that a traditional path doesn’t always lead to ‘success’. In our future we expect to have something broader than the traditional landscape of life (ex. College, job, marriage, kids, packing sandwiches, chaperoning the school dance, joining the PTA, crying at your son’s wedding, taking pictures of your grandkids at Disney,etc.).
Generation Z has an abundance of resources to do ‘something’ with. It’s daunting to be this young of a generation with such high expectations, but also exciting at the same time. Forbes reported, “Despite the frightening times they’ve faced, only 6% of Zs are fearful about the future. Having grown up amid major innovation and social change, Zs are inquisitive and globally aware. They’re already offering suggestions, solving problems, and proving their savvy, demonstrating how prepared they are for stressful and uncertain times.”
I’ve got a lot of question marks going forward. Things like, how will my world history class go this fall? Who will I go to homecoming with? Or, bigger things like, where will I go to College? What’s the meaning of life? The usual. (All of which are legitimate questions, send help, my Twitter’s @jennlittleee.) But, I know my generation is poised to step up in our own way, on our own terms. For that, there is no question about it.