Generation Z pushes past Millennials

By Hush Herman, Staff Writer

“What’s Generation Z?” is something I’ve been asked several times over the years. It’s my generation– the one after the Millennials. And to be fair, that seems to be one of the most defining characteristics of Gen-Z. Because of such a strong fascination with their youthful and modern disposition, Millennials have played the roles of poster child for young people for much longer than previous generations. This has cast a long shadow over the faces of Generation-Z, who are considered more practical and jaded than their predecessors.

Generation-Z is also known as the iGeneration or the Pluralists. People debate what year this generation starts, but most agree on the mid-to-late 90s, making the oldest members of Gen-Z roughly 22 years old. Despite the oldest of Gen-Zs having already graduated college, we still see and refer to older teens and college students as Millennials.

Millennials have spent the last decade stumping marketers and businesses alike with their unpredictable interests and similarly unpredictable willingness to buy certain products. This odd characteristic has created a large culture around appealing to Millennials, leaving Generation-Z in the dust. Even during the most recent election, so many candidates were concerned with getting the Millennial vote that they completely forgot about Generation-Z — he largest generation yet, currently making up 25% of the world’s population, and more than half of whom are already voting age.

Gen-Z is often described as the first “digital natives,” children who were born after the rising prevalence of the Internet and smarter cell phones. Their birth dates are usually considered to be between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, although due to the rapid incline of digital technology many are arguing that the concept of a fifteen or twenty year generation is obsolete.

Members of Gen-Z are highly global thinkers and have massive networks all over the world through their superior manipulation of social media. Many think of Millennials as the social media generation, but research shows that Millennials are much more irresponsible on social media than Gen-z, posting sensitive images and recklessly fishing for likes or views while Gen-Z is much more conservative with their posting, instead preferring to craft an identity for themselves through these platforms.

This generation is also significantly more diverse, with 49% of it s population being non-white. They have a more “holistic” idea of wellness, and they consider spiritual, metal, and physical health all equally important to a long and fulfilling life. Gen-Z is also more concerned with identity politics. Generation-Z were raised mostly post 9-11, in a much stricter and certainly much more turbulent environment. How are they meant to be well-prepared adults when 90% of their jobs don’t exist yet? They’ll have to use their high levels of adaptability and level-headedness to prepare themselves for a world of technology that hasn’t yet been invented.

Millennials were born in the early 1980s to the mid-1990s and largely raised by Generation-X, or the “Second Lost Generation.” Gen-X is known as lost because they were the first generation of latchkey kids — children who were significantly affected by single parents, parents who worked two or more jobs, and broken homes. Gen-X is defined by its strong value in having a stable and planned family life, thus sheltering the Millennials. One of the defining traits of the generation is living through the great recession and the extremely high levels of unemployment for young people. Despite this, they tend towards sudden extravagant shopping sprees much like the Baby Boomers, which makes them a heavy target for advertising and marketing. Millennials are predicted to hold more economic sway because of this, and eventually more political sway than the younger and more conservative Gen-Z. Millennials are actually less likely to go to church than Gen-Z, and more likely to go to college. All of this adds up to the first generation since the development of generational theory to be worse off than their parents.

With Millennials leaning into a Baby Boomer-like set of traits and their younger siblings, Generation-Z, trying their best to take the high road, what does this all mean for the next generation? The next generation — generation glass or generation alpha — is going to have a whole new set of problems that seem almost impossible to us now. Imagine how the original Lost Generation would see today’s issues, and inject the rapidly increasing speed and complexity of the development of the digital world. In the end, only time will tell what traits these two budding generations develop and how they will lead humanity into a bright new future.