My Instagram feed is constantly flooded with jokes about millenials. Whether it be about how entitled they are, how vegan they are or how trendy they are, we hear so much about them and their lifestyles. But what about Gen Zers? Who are they? What’s wrong with them?
I’m here to tell you that so very much is, in fact, wrong with them.
My stepsister and I started watching YouTube when we were around 8 years old. I remember coming home from school to sit on the barstool chairs in front of our family’s desktop computer to browse music videos for hours. Sometimes, a video would be recommended to us, causing us to then fall down a deep pit of curiosity. “Salad Fingers,” “Charlie the Unicorn” and “the Duck Song” were some of our favorites.
When I was in seventh grade, I got my first iPhone. I got an Instagram, a Snapchat and a Kik. I talked to boys, posted selfies and Face Timed friends. For as long as I can remember, I have been in touch with the digital world, and the digital world knows a lot about me.
Millennials —most often described as anyone born in the years from 1981-1996— did not grow up with the same experiences. Although they are known for their upbringing in the information age, their knowledge of technology does not come close to what Gen Zers experienced while growing up. For example, my sister-in-law didn’t get a Myspace until her freshman year of college, making her introduction to the world of social media much later in life than I did.
My parents are a part of the baby-boom generation. While they are amazing and much more experienced with life’s problems, nothing they could have done or said would have helped me or my mental health when it came to technology. They could not have warned me of the dangers if they wanted to.
Today, the world is much more aware of the dangers of social media. We understand how making your online presence so perfect and detailed can make your personal life feel isolated. We understand how following supermodels and influencers can make us doubt our own self-image. But the scary thing is that Gen Zers are still “coming to age.” Our minds are still forming and our environment is an enormous factor in this.
Growing up, we quite literally had the world at our fingertips. I was in sixth grade when a boy looked up porn on his phone during school and showed everyone. I barely knew what sex was. This information overload at a young age has inevitably made us bitter, cold-hearted and underwhelmed. Dating as a Gen Zer has become so complicated, most of us stay away from it.
So many problems in relationships arise from technology. With things like “snap scores,” location services and Tinder, maintaining a healthy relationship is far from normal. All we know is that love is something made up for the movies, and no one tells the full truth.
Maybe that is just it. We are so busy forming ourselves online that we have no idea who we are “IRL.” We don’t know who we want as our companions because we find it so hard to connect on a personal level. We don’t know what we want out of life, because we have already gotten so much.