Our youngest columnist, Tharwa Boulifi, explains why her generation, Generation Z, is the best of all.
Generation Z, also called Gen Z or Zoomers, refers to people born between 1997 and 2015, which means within the age range of six to 24 years old in 2021.
While the personality traits and trends of Gen Z are still works in progress, some of their characteristics are already becoming clear.
Among Western countries with large non-White populations, this cohort, according to the Pew Research Centre, is projected to become majority non-White in the US by 2026; in some US states, it seems that is already the case.
Members of Gen Z, by and large, tend to be more tolerant than those from previous generations, since they have experienced revolutionary social changes like gay legislation in many countries. Many of them have been raised within diverse family structures, where gender roles aren’t reinforced and there is open discussion about issues that were considered taboo before (like sexual orientation).
While millennials are considered ‘digital pioneers’, Gen Z are considered the first ‘digital natives’.
The internet and social media have enabled them to always have access to information in a timely manner, which gives them political awareness at a relatively young age.Unlike previous generations, this one tends to be more left-leaning, and is seen as perhaps the most progressive. This generation is involved in advocating for issues like gender equality, anti-racism, LGBTQ rights, climate change action, etc. They also believe that governments should work to ensure a free and equal world.
Furthermore, since Zoomers grew up during major crises like the financial crisis of 2007, and witnessed how their families struggled with financial hardships, they became aware of the importance of money security. That’s why this generation values savings, smart investment, and stable jobs.
In the same way, they tend to be wiser purchasers, since they can get well informed about the products they want to buy and read recommendations from other customers (especially celebrities).
The loneliest generation?
However, despite all these positive aspects, Gen Z have not escaped from some problems. The biggest challenge for this young generation is their mental health, affected mostly by the double-edged swords of the internet and social media.
It may be a cliché, but Gen Z is referred to as “the loneliest generation”, since they spend so much time online and less time interacting in person with their families and friends. In addition, young people on social media tend to share only positive aspects about their lives, such as their accomplishments and romantic liaisons – reflecting only the bright side of things. This excessive showing off pushes young people to compare their lives with others’, which makes them feel endlessly unsatisfied about what they have.
Gen Z are also confronted with much stress about problems of the modern world that never seem to end (climate change, terrorism, racism, etc). Being constantly subjected to this reality, they tend to internalise all the stress from the news and even their parents’ stress that they can feel.
On the other hand, their good grasp of global issues has motivated them to speak out against injustice, environmental issues and advocate for a better world in which they would want to live.
While we don’t know much about this generation yet, since they are still young, from what we know till now, it has all the features of producing bold leaders and change-makers.
This is in stark contrast to the negative stereotypes previous generations often level at them, like being constantly online, careless, and apathetic.
Given the colonial history of their countries, African Gen Z members have a cosmopolitan identity, since they are more open to many cultures – which wasn’t the case for their parents and grandparents.
In Africa, Gen Z activists like Angeline Makore (Nigeria), Zulaikha Patel (South Africa), Kelvin Doe (Sierra Leone), and Imraan Christian (South Africa), are great champions for their beautiful continent and working to make it shine on the world stage, after decades of being disregarded internationally. These young people are Africa’s future as they seek their rightful place in the world and expect to prosper.
All generations always find something to be proud of but it seems that Generation Z is probably the best so far – even if I, as a Zoomer, say so.
Tharwa Boulifi is a 20-year-old Tunisian freelancer. She writes in four languages – Arabic, French, English, and Spanish.