Are There High Hopes For Generation Z? (And Can They Actually Live Up To Them?)

Are There High Hopes For Generation Z? (And Can They Actually Live Up To Them?)

Ah, millennials. They might know a thing or two about avocados or unaffordable housing, but really, what are they good for? Just a lazy generation ready to screw the world over.

Well that’s what many think. We’ve all been on the receiving end of some grumpy git, slumped in his armchair, rambling on about ‘the good ol’ days’, only stopping his nostalgic tale to snap at anyone under 25 using their phone. Apparently, we wouldn’t have survived back in his day. Apparently.

But let me introduce a counter argument. Perhaps – dare I say – the youngest members of society aren’t actually that bad. Generation Z, as they’ve been named, are at worst, no more harm than any other generation has been when they were kids, and at best, they could do us all some good.

No generation is perfect. How could they be when there are so many different people to consider? But people need to stop being so pessimistic. People need to realise the potential that the next generation has, and realise the future may not be all doom and gloom.

Things change – that’s just how it works. Whether people like it or not, the youngest people in our society have grown up knowing nothing different to a world with internet and phones and social media. Of course, there are concerns over this, but any 60-year-old saying they wouldn’t have used technology in the same way, if they had been born 60 years later, is lying. 

In fact, with Brexit on its way and Trump’s wall still on the cards (let’s be real though, that’s never going to happen), the youngest generation can be considered the most communal. Maybe, from your point of view, they spend their ‘social life’ hidden behind a screen. But everything is so interconnected now. You can find out anything from anyone, just with a quick search of a hashtag. 

Generation Z, the followers of Millennials, can be a funny group to define. Some say they consist of anyone born after 2000, while others mark them around the mid 90s. The general rule, however, is that if you can remember 9/11, you can’t be in Generation Z. Born in 1997, that puts me right on the cusp.

And let me tell you what I’ve noticed. While there have been hiccups (yes, I’m thinking about the tide pod challenge) I’m not that worried about Generation Z. There’s going to be a lot of problems in our lifetime – political matters, environmental issues – but somebody has to deal with them. Maybe, Generation Z are the best chance we have.

Youngsters are often considered unmotivated, but I wouldn’t say that’s the case. This generation are juggling education with underpaid jobs. The work-life balance is merging, meaning these people have to be more proactive. And these people are actually doing something. Think about some of the biggest events in the past year. Who has been involved? Who have been at the forefront of the March for Our Lives movement? Those who have become the faces of tackling gun reform in the USA, such as Emma Gonzalez and Delaney Tarr, aren’t even old enough to drink in their country.

The one thing worse than bringing up a problem: doing nothing about it. It’s all very well complaining about everything you don’t like about this country, but we need action. Perhaps the younger generations – those labelled as lazy and careless – are actually prepared to get off their asses. Last year, the UK’s election saw the youth turnout the highest it’s been in 25 years. Politics aren’t just for middle class, white, cis men anymore – especially with so much information online these days. Pardon me for using more than the Daily Mail as a political resource.

Fuel a generation on dystopian novels, a Hunger Games franchise, and a gradual improvement of strong, diverse characters. The ballsy side of Generation Z suddenly makes sense.

But there’s more to it than an army of techy, riled up kids. Generation Z have been described as the most diverse group in society. Everyone’s connected. These so called ‘self-entitled’ members of society aren’t just thinking about themselves.

When Ipsos surveyed 3,007 adults between 16 and 65 for the BBC in 2017, participants were asked what future issues they believe the UK needs to address. Improving the NHS was a top priority for all generations, but it was only the younger ones who brought up equality related concerns. 10% of generation Z were interested in dealing with LGBTQ+ issues, compared to 1% of Baby Boomers. Gender equality was mentioned by 13% of Generation Z, and 1% of Baby Boomers, and racism by 20% of Generation Z and 6% of Baby Boomers.

Some days, the future looks pretty grim. Student debt: check. Brexit: check. Whatever the hell’s going on with Russia: check. But I always try to be an optimist, and if you ask me, I say we’re going to give things our best shot.