Updated: Sep 14
The generational groupings I wanna talk about are not without problems. They suggest that everyone born within the same period of time will have a shared experience, regardless of social class or racial background; a ridiculous and invalidating suggestion. However, the stereotypes that exist around these 'generations' can tell us a lot about the way these age groups are perceived, and by extension, the perceived
Boomer's, by stereotype, are, in one word, problematic. Danny Donzalez explores this topic in a pretty good video here. Millennials, to Boomer's, are entitled and lazy. And, well, for a long time that's all there really was to think about.
Gen Z were still in their early tween years, watching toy unboxings on Youtube. Their dark sense of humour (eating tide pods) was, relatable, but not really to be taken seriously.
But, somewhere down the line, Gen Z grew up.
And, I mean, duh. But I stumbled into some of their spaces (tiktok) over lockdown, and was really into the content. But what really fills me with awe about this generation has been seeing how they take online community and information, and have applied it to physical action.
They are outspoken, self assured, with a sense of agency that I simply did not see or experience when I was their age. They're ageing into a world that's crumbling around them. They know it, and they aren't wasting any time.
They feel more grown than Millennials, if I'm honest. Millennials glorify and hang onto our childhood. Actually, there's a great video exploring the Boomer / Millennial / Gen Z relationship, by Amanda the Jedi (linked here).
They're powerful. I'm so here for it. And, I'm not the only one that thinks so.
In 2010, I was 15. For the first time, I had an actual opinion about politics. I watched UK Question Time, and saw Nick Clegg make a stand against tripling university tuition fees, and I cared about the outcome.
It was an issue affecting me. I'm painfully aware of how self involved this is, but I have to be honest, it was the first time I felt truly invested in politics.
The subsequent Tory-Lib Dem coalition was painful to watch. Put simply, Nick Clegg lied. But, he lied to a bunch of young people. And, I don't know, things just hit different when you are too young to know any better.
There were protests at the time, but I wasn't involved.
I was left feeling disillusioned, and a life-long borderline irrational grudge against the Lib Dem's was born, but I didn't know how to engage in a more real way.
I was upset.
But, ultimately, I accepted my fate. I let myself be soothed with promises of 0% interest loans (that wasn't just a fever dream, right..?), applied to university like everyone else I knew, cause at the end of the day, there wasn't anything I could actually do about it.
Lets compare this to what's happening now.
(video from @nothanksalex)
5 strangers organised the Bristol protests; all 19-20 years old, with the youngest being just 16.
K-Pop fans are flooding All Lives Matter (and similar) hashtags to disrupt communication
And, I know, I'm using two anecdotal pieces of evidence to prove a point. And these are generalisations. But, I think generational stereotypes do give us an insight into the mood and climate said generation is formed under.
They were born into a reality of global connection. They "move seamlessly between the 'real' world and the one online", and in the context of assembling, organising, and mobilising a large group of people under a common goal - say...for a protest, for example - this is a superpower.
Gen Z feel more serious. I feel like I can't quite capture what I want to say right now... Maybe I'll try again.
They have the same tools as us, but they know how to use it instinctively. And they are reaching the age where they are able to really engage. And that's pretty damn amazing to watch.