My generation is a cohort born between the late 1990s and early 2000s; succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. It has been called numerous names including; Generation Z, Digital Natives, Neo-Digital Natives, iGeneration, Gen Tech, Net Gen, ,Plurals, Internet Generation, Post-Millennial, Zoomers, among others. Of all these tags the Generation Z often shortened as Gen Z- label stands out the most. Gen Z is part of a generation that is global, social, visual and technological. We are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever. We are the up-agers, with influence beyond our years. We are the tweens, the teens, the youth and young adults of our global society. We are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. Gen-Z also comprises nearly 2 billion people globally, and we don’t just represent the future, we’re creating it.
The biggest defining feature of my generation is our social media usage. Generation Z and social media are complementary. Most of the members of my generation have used digital technology since a young age and are comfortable with the internet and social media though not necessarily digital literate. My generation has known social media, online games and what not since our cognitive stages. We live online, using and trusting the Internet more. Older generations view the internet first as a place to get information and content, and second as a place to connect but Gen Zs are always connected. We’ve never lived in a world without social media or online shopping. Therefore, social media highly influences Gen Zs outlook on life.
Diversity and inclusion are the watchwords for Gen Z. Diversity matters to my generation through many dimensions, not just isolated to race and gender, but also related to identity and orientation. We prioritize diversity across race, gender, and orientation more than any other generation. The majority of my peers believe it is important to defend causes related to identity and inclusivity making Generation Z more interested than previous generations have been in human rights; in matters related to race and ethnicity; in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues; and in feminism. We each have our own style and way of being, but what binds us is that we accept and understand everyone’s styles. What’s more, we are radically inclusive in that we don’t distinguish between friends we meet online and friends in the physical world. As a generation, we value online communities because they allow people of different economic circumstances to connect and mobilize around causes and interests.
Likewise, my generation highly values ethics and the truth. An ethical, morally serious generation, Gen Zs are mobile, wily, thrifty, and up for the challenge. We care about the future and our impact on everything – from the environment to the economic climate. The likes of Greta Thunberg are a vivid depiction of my generation working towards conscious change. We understand better than our predecessors that the future and its outcome is up to us. For this reason we’re very conscious of ethical issues, such as animal testing and sustainability. Thankfully, the internet has made us hyper cognitive thus very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and with integrating virtual and offline experiences. Ultimately, we find the truth. And as a generation, we do not end at finding the truth but we go ahead and advocate for what’s right. Some people have gone as far as calling Gen Z, ‘the true gen’.
Individualism and independence characterize my generation. Gen Zs value individual expression and avoid labels. For us, the key point is not to define ourselves through only one stereotype but rather for individuals to experiment with different ways of being themselves and to shape their individual identities over time. In this respect, we might be called ‘identity nomads.’ The core of Gen Z is the idea of manifesting individual identity. To my generation consumption is a means of self-expression-as opposed, for example, to buying or wearing brands to fit in with the norms of groups. We are not only eager for more personalized products but also willing to pay a premium for products that highlight our individuality. For us, the self is a place to experiment, test, and change.
My generation is highly entrepreneurial and realistic. Growing up with vast amounts of information at our disposal, we’re more pragmatic and analytical about decisions than members of previous generations. Gen Z has been raised and is being raised at a time of global economic stress and a pandemic. These challenges have made us less idealistic. Shows like “Shark Tank” and the surge of technology billionaires has inspired my generation to look at entrepreneurship favourably. We’ve also seen how technology can be leveraged to create exciting—and lucrative—business opportunities with relatively low overhead. It therefore makes perfect sense that we’d like to be in charge of our own careers. Furthermore, we understand that we’ll need to work hard to get what we want.
As Gen Z, we believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world. My generation believes in the importance of dialogue and accepts differences of opinion with the institutions in which we participate and our own families. We are highly pragmatic and possess the ability to understand different truths.
Therefore Gen Zs tend to believe that change must come from dialogue. Our belief in dialogue combines a high value for individual identity, the rejection of stereotypes, and a considerable degree of pragmatism. We are ‘communaholics’ and hence connect to different truths. Accordingly, we practice tolerance and learn to listen and accept differences.
Technology is the biggest feature that encourages my generation. We’re used to turning to tech solutions to complete tasks and solve problems, be it ordering food or creating a budget, for we’ve grown up with smartphones in our hands. Many of us feel social media has had and is still having a positive effect on our lives. The presence of technology in our lives propels us to do our best in whatever situation we face. To Generation Z , the internet is another limb.
Monetary rewards are a great incentive to my generation. Yes, money and salary matter the most to Gen Zs. This is mostly because of the environment in which we’ve come of age; financial repression and the pandemic. Although other things matter too, such as glory, perks and benefits; money is the biggest motivation for my generation. In fact, according to LinkedIn Gen Zs are chiefly motivated by financial incentives and career advancements, and nearly 60 percent are interested in learning professional skills in order to make more money. We have grown up in a highly monetised world, where money is almost a god. Therefore, it is only logical that we should be highly motivated by money.
The opportunity to learn is a great inspiration for my generation. Gen Zs proactively seek out learning opportunities to enhance skills. My generation has grown up with a lot of information at it’s fingertips which has given us a thirst for hunger. We prefer to learn independently via online platforms, such as online tutorials. My generation is into looking for growth opportunities thereby enhancing our knowledge. While the masses think my generation uses the internet solely for social media, we’re constantly online looking for scholarships and bursaries. This goes to show Gen Zs colossal quest for knowledge; moreover at a subsidized cost.
Personal touch greatly encourages my generation. We demand greater personalization in all aspects of our lives; be it with the people we interact with or even the commodities we consume. Although my generation has been raised online, we value physical connection. For instance instead of using texting apps like Facebook, we prefer video conferencing apps like Snapchat. This goes to show that Gen Zs prefer independence but not isolation. It’s therefore no wonder that we’re motivated by interpersonal interactions.
My generation highly values inclusion and diversity. Inclusion and diversity are critical factors Gen Z. Where there’s diversity, our generation tends to thrive. A social campaign that encourages us to share an image via a hashtag totally thrills us. We like to support important causes and people who support important causes. It makes our generation know that we’re doing our utmost best in transforming the world for good. We continually flow between communities promoting our causes by exploiting the high level of mobilization technology makes possible. My generation believes that communities are created by causes and interests, not by economic backgrounds or educational levels. This knowledge is a great encouragement to us.
On the other hand, my generation is enraged by being stereotyped. As people, we don’t like being typecast into one box but for Gen Zs it means something much more. Statements like ‘They don’t check their email, they have the attention span of a gnat, and they’re killing any business that isn’t online’ particularly enrage us. Gen Z refuses to fit into neat little boxes. This mainly stems from our belief in self and individuality. We realize that everyone is unique in their own way and hate being stifled by prejudiced stereotypes.
My generation is enraged by segregation and discrimination. We put in a lot of work and time into fighting injustice in society. We’re the people you see on social media advocating for social justice, gender equality. We’re the TikTok youth fostering numerous improvements in society. Even in our daily realities, my generation goes ahead to organize and participate in campaigns, protests and rallies geared towards positive change, inclusivity and diversity. It simply follows that Gen Zs are ticked off by all sorts of bigotry.
Gen Zs are angered by immorality. Surprising, isn’t it? We’ve grown up in what many call degenerate times but that doesn’t mean we don’t have ethics. The internet which is akin to the proverbial tree of knowledge has given my generation an early insight into ethical issues. We have gone ahead to make the right choices and fight for our ideals We’re interested in meaningful social change and have a chance to change the world for the better—and we’re taking it. We are thereby thoroughly incensed when we watch wanton immorality.
Being underappreciated is a sore spot for my generation. Contrary to popular opinion, Gen Zs are hardworking people. Having been raised in the shadow of the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and by Generation X parents who’ve passed along their street-smart sense of self-reliance, we’ve become a very pragmatic and entrepreneurial generation. My generation generally puts in tons of effort in their respective occupations. As a result, we’re thoroughly enraged when we’re not held in high esteem.
Ultimately, my generation is largely still under study. Clear lines are yet to be drawn about us, we’re yet to be inserted into the boxes we so clearly dislike. As a generation coming into adulthood with a distinct sensibility, Gen Zs possess immense potential. We are the students of today and university graduates, employees and consumers of tomorrow. We are the present. We are the future. We are Generation Z- my generation.