"If I Die, I Die": A Look Into the Gen-Z Mentality

In late March, as beaches, bars, and universities are shut down, a video surfaces of a university student from Ohio. Shirtless and wearing a backwards hat on the beaches of Miami, Brady Sluder declares “If I get corona, I get corona.” He later apologized for the severity of his actions, posting a heartfelt paragraph on Instagram. However, I believe that he raises an important point about the disparity in mindset between generations. 

Generation Z (Gen Z for short), according to Wikipedia, is composed of those of us born somewhere in between the mid 1990s and early 2010s. Technology was introduced to us at an early age, with most schools having computer labs and programs to help acclimate us to the power of the internet

YouTube was created in 2005, with other large social media platforms emerging shortly after (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). Now, there are seemingly very few people without any social media history, who are a part of Gen Z. Yet, this constant connection can have damaging effects. Cory Stieg, an author for CNBC Make It, writes that “a 2018 survey from the American Psychological Association found that Gen Z adults are most likely of all generations to report poor mental health.” This may explain why Gen Z tends to “stare down” problems. Going to beaches and bars after being warned about COVID-19 embodies the idea that “‘I’m going to face down death, because I see it so much less.’” With all the other stressors in our lives, this is the least of our worries.  

Coronavirus

On the other side, lies Generation X (Gen X for short). Nicknamed the “latchkey generation” after a childhood marked by a lack of adult supervision, Gen X encompasses those born between 1965 and 1980. Many must assume the brunt of stress because they are currently responsible for running households, taking care of children, and caring for elderly parents. They are the most concerned about how they are going to pay the bills next month. However, amid chaos, many Gen Xers took to Twitter. Trending under the name “GenX” they compared living in isolation to their early childhood, when it was common for both parents to work. Similarly, headlines that have called out Generation Z and millennials for not taking the situation more seriously, celebrate the Gen X talent for hanging out.

It is easier to look at the situation with this information. The oldest of Gen Zers are likely in their mid-20s. They are mainly responsible for themselves and may have to worry about the health of their loved ones. Coupled with the data that the virus is less likely to affect them severely, has led to a misperception of invincibility. Meanwhile, Gen Xers are likely responsible for their families, giving them increasing motivation to be role models in times of crisis. So, while it would be wise for Gen Z to heed the warnings, we are still young in the grand scheme of life.  

As the climax of the situation approaches in the coming weeks, I suggest that we have empathy for those around us. You never know what someone might be going through, and it would be an oversight to feed into declarations made by each generation. Together, but separate, we will get through this.  

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