Generation Z: anyone born between 1997 and 2001. Gen Z is seen as a generation embracing change, diversity, and highly motivated to write their own future. But at the same time, it looks like stress and anxiety have also become defining characteristics of Generation Z. Especially considering the current climate of the world, the futures we had planned are now left in uncertainty.
This quarter, I am taking a media theory class, and one of the key perspectives discussed was: as technology evolves, society and we as individuals do as well. I’ve only been to a few lectures, but the implications of this idea can already be seen in how the introduction of social media and the internet has allowed the unique opportunity for us to be the creators of our own entertainment.
We are students, but we can also be comedians, producers, artists, and influencers too. The internet has given us the ability to fact check, find evidence to support our beliefs, and connect with people beyond our social circles and physical borders with similar or contrasting ideas that put our own small world into perspective. It is not surprising that we are the most educated generation yet. It is amazing that this is the kind of environment that Generation Z has been born in. From the start, we were placed in a unique time and space where we are not limited to the people we see or the books we read at our local library.
But this technological advancement also means we are overloaded by the sheer amount of new information we receive every single day. On a national scale, current events filter their way into our personal timelines and stories. The chaos of global affairs, the tragedies of mass shootings, and more recently the sudden transparency in racial divides and the deadly impact of COVID-19 have found their home on the trending page of our media platforms. We are placed into this environment where we end up hyperaware of every bad thing that happens.
Overload of information also comes in the form of keeping tabs on others. We are often wrapped up in the lives of others, obsessed with influencer and celebrity drama, and compare ourselves to those we see in our feeds. We spend hours scrolling through Tik Tok, Instagram, and watching stories on Snapchat. Despite being connected, it seems as though we are even more disconnected from our social groups. Perhaps this is why Gen Z is the most anxious and depressed generation yet.
But not all is lost. Every generation has its issues, and we are no different. With anything, there will always be positive and negative consequences. While we are living in a time in space where the whole world is entering and fighting through uncharted territory, I’ve seen how Gen Z has stepped up to the plate to help each other out. Our shared experience in this pandemic and chaotic state of the world through the lens of our media platforms helps remind me that none of us are alone in this. We may be physically apart, but our expertise in navigating the internet and social media has prepared us for this time and space where we must rely on technology to keep us connected.