What The World Means To Us, Gen-Z folks
Any significant change that strikes the youth needs to be relevant to the current generation in its method
“The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism.” ~ Albert Camus
Gen-Z today consider themselves to be so modern, yet falter when it comes to doing everyday, mundane activities sans technology. Why? Is Gen-Z going to give birth to advanced technology rather than to children? Has this generation become so dependent on technology that whatever task it performs, needs validation from technology?
To throw some more light on this arena, all this affects this generation’s self-image as well. They are constantly seeking approval from people whose last names they don’t even know. Nowadays, cases of depression, social anxiety, self-harm, and suicide are alarmingly high and even commonplace! Furthermore, peer pressure is one of the most pressing issues in today’s world, especially in school life - not having a phone at 13, unable to come home at his/her own convenience, not being as “cool” as his/her classmates, or simply not having “enough” friends! All these factors add up to what we term ‘peer pressure’.
Certainly, the teenager grows up to realize that they were wrong for comparing themselves to others as a kid - but some teenagers go to the extent of having botox surgeries & piercings, do drugs and even have sex at the tender ages of 16 or 17 - all because they weren’t “good enough”! Sometimes it makes us all wonder why there isn’t enough positivity in this world…
However, apart from a heavy dependence on technology, there are so many issues that concern us daily; both at the societal level and the global pedestal. At the social level, lack of social interaction is a major problem that is posed to Gen-Z. Resulting from the advanced tech and modernization, this generation now has more pen pals than real friends! A question to ponder upon - who all do we actually know at a personal level when we accept those ‘friend requests’ on Instagram?
We now culminate the most pressing social concern of all - social media addiction! Gen-Z is getting addicted to social media platforms and they know it - which is also why cybersecurity is becoming a growing concern by the passing day. Cases of cyberbullying, obscene requests from ‘friends’, and harassment cases are simply skyrocketing every minute, so to speak. As per a study conducted by Indiaspend, “1 in 10 Indian adolescents faces cyberbullying, and half don’t even report”!
Now comes a societal topic that most of us refuse to talk about, despite being so ‘modern’ and ‘urbanized’ - the LGBTQ+ community. These people are “indigenous” for the current era; however, they are all around us - and are slowly coming out of their shells. Therefore, instead of demeaning their sexual preferences, one must encourage them to live their own life - ours is a secular country, after all.
Speaking of which, Gen-Z isn’t involved much in the political arena - or at least not as much as other topics - because ages 6 to 24 have other foci - the aforementioned topics and the ones coming up. However, what irks them most is the spread of fake news - which simply increases the need for validation and research, something that we all expect news channels to undertake! Similarly, Gen-Z isn’t directly affected by the economic recession/crises due to the ongoing pandemic, as much as their parents and elders would be undergoing.
Environmental issues are of equal importance. Plastic-usage has been reduced dramatically with the immense awareness created by environmental campaigns. Modern alternatives for potentially harming materials and/or traditional practices are growing day by day, for instance - hydroponic farming to replace conventional farming soon.
Lastly, coming to the problem of health issues, an aspect thoroughly touched upon before. Talking about physical health, Gen-Z is suffering from a large number of obesity cases due to a high intake of cholesterol and/or fat-rich food items. However, this is not it - mental health is an ‘upcoming topic’ nowadays - the masses are more open to the problems caused by poor mental health - it isn’t a ‘stigma’ to go to a psychiatrist anymore. Be it bullying, lack of social interaction, peer pressure, or just being unable to speak up and/or take professional help, poor mental health is a pressing issue, and victims of it must be encouraged to speak up immediately.
Nevertheless, Gen-Z has many more and many diverse securities. The most prominent one stands more freedom than the generation of our parents; this freedom includes everything from the right to speech and expression, to a liberalized and open-minded society. This gives them the security to explore a variety of choices, for example - to choose which gender to like and marry, as mentioned earlier, as well as when to marry. Earlier generations were usually constricted to arranged marriages, as were to the socially acceptable age for the same.
Furthermore, they have the security of a good financial background, and thus, the security to try out different things in life. For example, learning and developing new skill sets through certified online courses. With the coming of the new century, there are hundreds of new opportunities in terms of career choices for Gen-Z to make. This is one of the biggest securities they have as compared to older generations, where the only available streams were of arts, commerce, and science. Educational systems such as Liberal Arts and the International Baccalaureate have come up now - it is fascinating to see millions of students being fiercely competitive, yet stick to their roots - that’s the simplistic beauty of education. Furthermore, we are “life-long learners” now - we can study when we are engaged, when we get married, and even after we get retired! Education never ceases.
However, we are almost as insecure as we feel we are secure. They are often obliged to adjust and amend their tastes, preferences, and fashion to comply with peer pressure. It has been observed that this has amplified due to the influence that social media has had on all of us, especially Gen-Z. This makes them insecure of self-identity and makes them vulnerable to the herd mentality - and has been the root to ‘dual-faced behavior’. For instance, TikTok and Reels' challenges got very popular last year, and so many teenagers were compelled to do it themselves, just because “it was in vogue” at the time.
Nonetheless, there has been - quite noticeably - a lot of activism, as Gen-Z takes on the responsibility of shaping and changing the world for the better. Youth-led organizations such as SAY-X, Youth Policy Review, etc. are aiming to bring about a change. Interestingly, they consisted solely of high school volunteers! Also, several schools are tieing up with NGOs such as Child Rights & You (CRY) to engage their students in socially beneficial activities.
Hence, Gen-Z must aim to bring about change in the world in the aforementioned areas of issues that concern all of us and for the greater well-being - they need to think long-term. After all, at such a young age, the very least that they can do is raise awareness about the issues. To do so, we need to have more channels to raise awareness and bring small issues into the limelight with the snap of a finger. A very apt example is how the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign gained popularity last year and became a trending hashtag in a matter of just a few days. On other social media platforms such as YouTube, several content creators are launching fundraisers to support a good cause.
In a nutshell, any significant change that strikes the youth needs to be relevant to the current generation in its method. We believe that only something ‘innovative and trendy’ can impact the generation, just as apps such as PubG and TikTok did in 2020. A lot of businesses (such as Gems, Dream11, Vivo, Doritos, Amazon, Instagram, etc.) that target Gen-Z have changed their marketing strategies to keep up with the market trends and thereby appeal to us.
Dream big, do small.
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