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Generation Z, As Explained By A Gen-Z Kid

Generation Z, As Explained By A Gen-Z Kid

Generation Z. What does the Z stand for? Zealous perhaps?

For some of you, they may be the most boisterous set of people you will ever meet. Born between 1997 and 2012, they surpassed the Millennial population in 2019. In 2020, Gen Z babies form 26% of the global population – amounting to just under 2 billion individuals. It is no wonder that the emergence of this generation is fast-paced in society.

While Gen Z is generally admired for their youthful energy, much of the population is unfairly-associated with negative opinions. Some have said that Gen Zs are messed up or cynical. Others have said that they’re stubborn and have a tendency to overlook many things. Here are some of the misconceptions that I will debunk for you.

1. They’re addicted to their phones.

As a Gen Z kid myself, I’m no stranger to being on my phone (and laptop) all the time. But there’s a reason for that. Personally speaking, I think Gen Z has the most exposure to technology when compared to Millennials since they grew up with it.

For some of us, the first iPhone was released when we were ten years old. This kickstarted the trend to incorporate the Internet and social media into our daily lives as we grow older. Our social media accounts have evolved into an avenue of self-expression and a place where we can interact with like-minded individuals.

On a different note, we’re more likely to revert to social media as a source of entertainment. Some of my go-to apps are Spotify, Netflix, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. Though screen time may vary between people my age, I personally have a higher amount of screen time from the hours I spend on entertainment. But this is because I’m familiar with the different kinds of technology and media available out there.

Image from Giphy

2. They’re know-it-alls with too many opinions.

Social awareness is one of our strengths as a generation. As we get our news from social media, we find ourselves exposed to a lot of things in the world. Most of the time, that’s how we learn and educate ourselves. Knowing about social issues drives us to fight against global challenges and protect our future in the process.

Other than keeping tabs on news and social issues, we’re also more progressive and accepting of other people’s identities. Being on the Internet so much, we get to meet people of different backgrounds, and it develops a space for us to ponder on meaningful conversations together. Over time, some of us choose to overlook a few traditional ideas that were passed down to us, which some people may misinterpret as being disrespectful.

3. They’re lazy and entitled.

When I conducted a survey for this article, I received several answers that labelled Gen Z as spoiled and lazy. Similarly across several online articles I’ve encountered, my generation was summed up as difficult team workers, self-centred, and devoid of motivation.

Despite my initial misgivings, I have to agree that individuals of my generation are lazy in a way that they have really short attention spans. According to Ripple Match, this has to do with the fact that we’re brought up with “information coming from different avenues”. It also doesn’t help that social media was designed in a way that favours shorter content.

On the topic of entitlement, Gen Z has been reported to live the life of privilege and demands. Everything we want gets handed to us on a silver platter. But I think that’s more of a misconception. While some of us have been brought up lucky, many others have not. That is, they had to work for the lifestyle that they wanted.

In a world where various commodities and information have been made available, we tend to be selective about the brands we invest in. What we know about a brand determines our support. In the same Ripple Match article, Sharon Uche (the author) claims that we’re more likely to have higher expectations about a brand, especially in the beliefs and values the brand communicates.

I also want to add that Gen Zs have greater financial influence. Forbes reported that our spending power amounted up to $143 billion in 2018 alone.

Image from Giphy

4. They’re living life the easy way.

Contrary to this myth, it has been reported that Gen Z face the highest stress levels out of all the age groups. This is more common among Gen Z adults, aged 18-23.

The source of stress may vary, but it mostly comes from our environment. The American Psychology Association (APA) [cites](link to https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2018/stress-gen-z.pdf) health risks, personal safety, immigration, school, work, and financial stability as significant stress factors. In their report, they have observed that my generation is more likely to speak out and seek help for their mental health.

Meanwhile, in the Asia Pacific region, a study in Singapore shared similar findings. While more Gen Zs face symptoms of anxiety and depression during the Covid-19 pandemic, parent-child culture (for older Gen Zs) and mental health illiteracy are also significant factors.

The premise of collectivist cultures (a social theory that highlights the importance of group values and beliefs) have given rise to both family and career pressures, and Gen Zs have no choice but to put on a brave face for their elders.

5. They’re too young for anything.

Oftentimes, I feel that my generation is more likely to be dismissed by other people. Even though Gen Zs are the fresh faces of the decade, we’re also the same group of people that gets set aside because “we’re too young for anything.’ We’re constantly overlooked because we’re considered not ready for the “big guns.” However, I must say, you’re underestimating our abilities as a generation.

If you’ve reached this point of the article, you may have gotten the gist that we’re socially-aware, driven, and great with technology. I would like to also add that we’re ambitious about the things we do. In an article written by Cayetana Hurtado, she labels people like me as a “hypercognitive generation” – that is, we have the knack to cross-reference and collect complex layers of information from different sources. We dedicate time to matters that intrigue us, so I can say that we’re very self-informed on different perspectives.

On top of that, Cayetana Hurtado acknowledges how Gen Zs have a distinct work ethic where they prefer to focus on activities that could a) ensure a stable career path and b) boost their creativity. Considering how Gen Zs are goal-oriented with dreams, we’ve conditioned ourselves to work for the life we want. Unfortunately, when we get too engrossed in the chase, we often forget to slow down and ultimately face burnout.

A notable misconception that I would like to mention is that Gen Zs may be hard to understand. It most likely has to do with our sense of humour or the slang we speak. If you really want to get a gist of what I’m talking about, head on over to TikTok – specifically the comments section.

As TikTok is a platform saturated by the Gen Z population, you get to see how we interact with each other. To sum it up, Gen Zs love to communicate with heavy sarcasm (to the extent it almost sounds mean) and a lot of emojis until it becomes a riddle. I don’t know about you, but people my age are pretty easy to entertain. I find myself often “dying” (laughing really hard in Gen Z jargon) at something incredibly stupid or meaningless.

“Generation Z Jargon Syndrome” (not that it exists, I created it) is a thing. Once you start incorporating it into your conversations, it’ll soon flow pretty naturally. You won’t be able to stop using it. If you want to familiarise yourself with the code, here’s an article.

What are some of your misconceptions about my generation?

Image from Giphy

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent official policy or position of Pandan Social.

Natasha Effendy
natasha@pandansocial.com