The word generation is becoming one of those buzzwords that now pop up everywhere, like “Snap story” or ” evil kermit”. Generation was once used to describe people born within a span of time or with a time of certain events. For example. the generation marked as the “Baby Boomers” are categorized as those born between 1946-1964 (spans of time) whereas the generation before them, marked the “Greatest generation” were categorized by four major events – World War I the roaring twenties, the Great Depression and World War II. Of course the most studied and criticized generation of all time are the Millennials, notorious for being narcissistic, entitled, lazy, and entrepreneurial. Most people categorize millennials as anyone born between the age of 1980 and 2000, which kinda seems fair, until you look closer.
Early millennials count Britney Spears, Full House, Backstreet Boys and Friends as vivid childhood memories. Most of them did not grow up with multiple TVs or computers in their homes, and all of them clearly remember where they were and what they were doing when the 9/11 attacks occurred. For those born 1995- 2014, our childhood experiences were a bit more modern. We never grew up in a world without the internet, our childhood included Drake and Josh, High School Musical, and Justin Bieber. Most of us were still in elementary school when Obama was first African American president. We grew up with flat screen TVs in our houses. The Great Recession is still vivid in our minds.
We are deemed Generation Z, the newest generation to hit the work force. Ages range from 1995-2020, and we’re a little different from our older siblings and classmates. How? Well:
- Realists, not optimists: It’s not to say that Generation Z is not optimistic about the future, but we’ve grown up during times of economic and political uncertainty. We live in a post 9/11 American where national security is still a hot and debated topic. We’ve seen the damage done in an environment where “everybody gets a trophy”. We are hyper aware of global disasters and government unrest thanks to social media outlets like Twitter. We know there are winners and losers in the world, and that we don’t like in a world with limitless options. We want to make an impact, but we know we probably won’t.
- Frugal Frans (and Franks): Recession hit are families hard, especially our parents, making it nearly impossible to enjoy some perks of being a 90s teen in a prosperous American (no new car on your 16th birthday, sorry). We didn’t grow up with an ample of summer job opportunities, we are witnessing one of the greatest wealth gaps in American history and we know the very real possibility of never becoming rich. So yeah, spending isn’t really our friend.
- Globally aware: This is kind of a given, we grew up in a world where we got news from Twitter instead of TV. We are the most connected generation in history, and we want to know what’s going on beyond our backyard. After all, we have more in common with a kid our age in India than an adult living in the States.
- Culturally Diverse: Again, another given. Data shows Generation Z to be the most culturally diversity the U.S. has ever seen. We have grown up embracing different cultures as part of America, not a separate entity, We have grown up seeing celebs rock their natural hair like Yara Shahidi and Zendaya, and wear cultural dress like the hijab or burka with pride. It’s not a political statement, or a middle finger to the establishment, it’s culture.
- Moderate to Conservative: We know a country saturated with political unrest and fear. Many Gen Zs say that they worry about the state of our country in regards to terrorist attacks, and actually agree on Donald Trumps views on national security and job creation. If you thought that younger generations are automatically more liberal, think again.
- Private: We prefer Snapchat to Twitter or Instagram because we know the effects of post lasting content online. Employers now check almost every social media platform we have, so we’ve gotten smart when it comes to what to share and what to keep silent.
These are just some of the characteristics that define Generation Z and separate us from herd of millennials. Are there any different that you’ve noticed between Millennials (1980-1995) and Generation Z (1996-present)? Let me know in the comments!