Every generation believes theirs is the best. From music to fashion to social issues, almost every group feels that theirs is superior, and in some instances, they are not totally wrong. Some would say that the 90s were excellent politically, or that the 70s had the best music, or that the 80s had the most fun style. Every generation has something distinctive and special about it that can never be replicated by anyone else.
However, these unique aspects come with a cost. When the punk era hit the 1990s, parents did their best to shelter their children from Doc Martens and angsty lyrics. When Rock and Roll was introduced, the older generation was terrified of defiling the young people.
Almost every major cultural movement has had push back from the older group in society. Whenever a new idea or style is introduced, the parents of those leading the charge become nervous that this time, it really will be the end of life as they know it. But why does it seem that Millennials to Gen Z get such a particularly bad rap?
Every day another article is published about how Millennials have killed yet another industry, or how Gen Z kids are being corrupted by the internet. Repeatedly, these groups are attacked by those older than them for being too lazy, too sensitive, too impatient or a whole host of other versions of “too something.”
However, I disagree. I can only really speak for Gen Z, but I believe we have so much more to offer than the generation before us thinks we do. We are more than Snapchat and a need for instant gratification, but so often that’s all we are seen as. Gen Z is living in a completely different world than our parents have ever known, and we are navigating it completely on our own.
With the rise of social media, our world is constructed completely differently than it has been at any point before. Most Millennials can remember first getting access to the internet and can trace the rise of it throughout their lives, but most people from Gen Z do not have that memory. To us, the world is entirely interrelated and connected, and it always has been. All we have ever known is the world at our fingertips, or more accurately, on our screens.
Maybe we are too absorbed in what is happening on our phones, and maybe we do not know how to wait anymore. Maybe internet trends are killing our brain cells and the music we listen to is corrupting our worldview. However, I would argue that the same things some may call problems with our generation are the same things that make us so great.
No generation before us has known as much as we do as quickly we do. A tragedy can happen halfway across the world, and within hours there are droves of people supporting, praying for and donating to those affected.
There is a sense of unity we experience when we’re all doing the same silly things simultaneously, like the “In My Feelings” challenge or the #tenyearschallenge. Our impatience means that when we are stared down by injustices, we do not sit by idly and wait for someone else to fix it. Our generation has been the one to organize both the fight to solve Flint’s water crisis (Little Miss Flint), and the March for Our Lives movement (students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school).
Every generation holds good and bad inside of it, but so often I feel that Gen Z is pigeonholed into the negative view of it our elders have. Yes, there are many things about our age bracket that are odd, unproductive or possibly damaging, but I believe it is far more important to acknowledge and celebrate our achievements.
It does not help anyone, young or old, to reduce an entire generation to only the worst parts of themselves. As Gen Z, we have so much to offer as individuals and as a generation, and even though we will inevitably do things differently than those before us have, that is how progress is made.