by Amelia Field
We all know the saying: ‘your parents know best’. Yet, recently we have seen a switch in this phrase to sometimes suggest that, in fact, they don’t. Historically, youths were viewed as a nuisance or plague on society. They commit crimes, do drugs and litter and if you were to talk to your grandparents about this they would probably agree. But, there has been a stir with the rise of Gen Z (those born in the mid-90s to early 2000s) which has started to change attitudes to youths all together.
Millennials have constantly been bashed in the media for ruining everything, from films to food, and have even been accused of such statements as being willing to choose avocados over houses. They are viewed as ‘snowflakes’ that are offended by everything and can’t take a joke. One could claim that millennials are being discussed this way because growing up in a time of economic instability has led to them being blamed for these problems and criticised for living a more wealthy lifestyle than their older counterparts. One telephone survey found that 71% of Americans believe millennials to be selfish, while another 65% find them entitled.
It’s hard for an older generation to understand a younger generation’s new struggles and ways of life so it’s easy to dismiss and criticise them which may be a reason as to why millennials receive so much hate from older generations. Also, some older generations look down on millennials claiming they have it easy and that they worked for their wealth. With the world of the internet at millennial’s fingers, networking and earning can be easier than ever before. As boomers and other generations didn’t have access to this when they were working, it can cause some resentment.
Gen Z are people born between 1995 and 2015 and therefore are now the new generation of young adults ready to be criticised by older generations. But this has not been the case. Our generation has become known as the game changers; with fighting for climate change, fighting to end sexual harassment in the workplace, and becoming more politically involved than any other generation. This push back on traditional practices and ways of acting has surprisingly not garnered much hate. Gen Z are abandoning traditional ideas about how youth behave, to opt for an overall positive force on society. They are doing this in many ways. Firstly, through their care for the environment. Through YouthStrike4Change the younger generation took charge of their future through millions of students striking on university/school to march for legislation to be changed to allow for the fight against climate change showing the power of the new generation.
Secondly, Gen Z are also making a change in the environment through how they are opting to buy from more environmentally friendly brands such as Lush and Body Shop. This shows that there is an interest in saving the planet by changing their life choices dramatically. Additionally, it also means a change in the market with businesses now having to adapt to the needs of Gen Z consumers. Resulting in personalising experiences, posting regularly on social media accounts, and making sure they have effective websites for online shopping as increasingly Gen Z consumers move to shop online.
Lastly, they are coming in force to promote LGBT issues and aim to put a stop to harassment by arranging movements such as #MeToo. These changes might be opposed by older generations, but anyone that says they don’t care about climate change or sexual harassment is immediately shunned in the media. This is because Gen Z, now with a huge online presence, mostly control the market and influence what can be published. This means that even if there are negative views being published about Gen Z, they will be shut down by those who are more digitally wise than those who publish them.
This supposed disenfranchisement with the government that young people had traditionally adopted has changed with young people lobbying lawmakers and setting up online petitions. This harks back to the 1970s, a time of more radical change by the youth.
Gen Z, although viewed as better than previous generations, still do have some negative images put on them. For example, a recent advertising campaign by the UK army suggested that people who are in Gen Z/ Millennials are ‘snowflakes’, ‘gamers’ and ‘lazy’ which challenges previous ideas about Gen Z people. But I think it’s unlikely that a generation will not receive any negativity from older generations. In this case, it is telling Gen Z people to use their negative stereotypes and apply them to military work but I don’t think this has garnered a lot of support.
Personally, I think that a change in opinions about young people is incredibly important. Young people are often an unrecognised force that put a lot on the line for their causes. They won’t stop pushing until they see positive change begin, so maybe it’s about time society started to listen.