—Haley Harada, Staff Writer—
There’s no question about whether or not each generation differs from the one prior to their own. They each have their own quirks and characteristics that they will be remembered for in history. Generation Z, the most recent generation to start entering college and the workforce, are similar to millennials, but also surprisingly different.
One of the main differences is the technological aspect. While the older generation did not have things such as internet access and smart phones so commonly available to them for the majority of their lives, Gen Z has. Millennials do rely on their phones, however it tends to be more of a want rather than something that they feel is necessary, because they have lived without them and know how to function without them.
Gen Z, on the other hand, has had these things readily available to them for a very large portion of their lives. Because of this, Gen Z is often referred to as the “digital pioneers.” While there are the obvious perks of technology, another way that it has been beneficial for Gen Z is by connecting them globally. They are able to bond and connect with people from across the world- which allows them to learn each others struggles and join together to fight and make a change. It is an amazing way for them to unite and spread the word about the things they’re passionate about. Technology is getting people involved in activism at a much younger age than before.
Another difference between the two is their outlook on the future. Gen Z grew up during the time of the great recession- where 15 million people were put out of jobs. As young children, they witnessed their parents losing jobs that should have been solid. While they aren’t as optimistic about the future as their seniors may be, they acknowledge the fact that in order to have a good future, you really need to work for it- it’s not something that is guaranteed, and you cannot count on someone else.
As Gen Z-ers get older, they have to make the decision whether or not they are going to pursue higher education or go straight into the workforce. It seems that with the overwhelming student debt constantly looming over their heads, many are choosing to skip out on that option and take other routes instead. However, you shouldn’t take this to mean that they’re not going to be successful. As “digital pioneers”, they know how to use technology to their advantage and how to gain success through the internet and social media. With that being said, there’s still a very large portion who are still choosing to attend university. Independence and entrepreneurship are both big things for this generation because the recession has showed them that you cannot truly count on someone else- so that’s what many are working towards- with and without higher education. Another difference is that millennials grew up with a pretty stable economy and are more willing to spend their money, while Gen Z-ers grew up post recession and are much more wary to spend their money and make investments.
The world they are growing up in is not a very positive one. They’ve grown up in a world where terrorism, war and violence has unfortunately become the norm. While their grandparents had nuclear attack drills because of war, Gen Z-ers have lockdown drills because mass shootings are very common and schools are one of the main targets- in fact, 2017 is now known as the deadliest year for mass shootings in modern US history with a staggering number of 345 shootings.
Along with that, they too face the fear of nuclear war as it is becoming more and more of a possibility for them as each day passes. As the KKK, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are making their presence more prominent in today’s society by organizing far right rallies pertaining to racism and similar topics, it’s leaving many people feeling unsafe and unsettled. Conversion therapy targeted at those part of the LGBT+ community is still
legal in 41 states in the US, and discrimination towards minority groups is hardly relenting. Overall, today’s society is something that is scary to many people.
What is admirable about this generation is that they don’t see these circumstances as a setback, but instead as motivation. Today’s teens and young adults have progressive viewpoints and are unrelenting in their fight for justice and equality. To them, anything less than that is unacceptable. It’s not hard to see why though. While millennials looked up to people such as Mark Zuckerberg, an internet entrepreneur who made millions at a young age, Gen Z looks up to people such as Malala Yousafzai, a pakistani activist for female education who was shot for her activism and then proceeded to win a nobel peace prize at only 17 years old.
There have been many names given to this group- iGen, digital pioneers, the pivotals, etc. While it is still too early for anyone to agree on a fitting name quite yet, one thing is already certain- they will leave their mark on the world in more ways than one. Both their digital footprint and their impact on the world around us is something that will be looked over one day and hopefully admired.