BY: QUENTIN STUCKEY
It makes perfect sense that the Millennial generation is on everyone’s mind; after all, Millennials are the adult population currently responsible for shaping the global and cultural landscape. This generation is constantly being analyzed, probed, loved and hated by many. We’re all well aware of their characteristics, their flaws and the possibilities of their future. The amount of knowledge that we currently possess on the Millennial generation leaves us with one burning question: what is the next generation going to be like?
Do they even have a name or a set of defining characteristics for this forthcoming group of individuals? As a matter of fact, a general consensus has been met on the name, year range and characteristics of the new generation. For anyone born from 1995 and onwards you are a member of Generation Z and you differ significantly from any other generation before. An article published in PopSugar outlined a large number of defining characteristics of Generation Z, here are the top five.
- Technology Is Their First Language
Generation Z may have had a childhood free from iPhones, laptops and social media applications, but as they grew older they became the top utilizers of everything technological. Members of Generation Z have the unique ability of mastering all forms of technology from Instagram to iPads and are fully capable of creating their own personal content without the aid of anybody but themselves.
These young people do not value privacy as much as past generations, and they enjoy sharing personal information and content that is meaningful to them as a way of creating an online, desirable image of themselves. This generation has a wide spectrum of social media accounts and is very familiar with the lingo and etiquette that goes hand in hand with the utilization of these accounts.
Although Generation Z isn’t a stranger to physical social interactions, the majority of their interpersonal connections stem from technological forms of communication including text messaging, sending pictures on Snapchat, dating apps like Tinder and essentially anything that appears on a phone screen.
2. 9/11 and The Great Recession Have Influenced Their Outlook
Although at the time of September 11th 2001 the majority of Generation Z members were extremely young, the post-9/11 war on terrorism and general paranoia is all too familiar to their current adolescent and young adult years. The fear of something catastrophic happening in a seemingly safe environment is one that these individuals live with every day.
Many members also witnessed their parents or family friends losing their jobs as a result of the economic downfall in the late 2000s. Although many of them once again were too young to completely understand the situation before them, the emotional weight that it put upon their family members was apparent. Despite the negative events they have been through during their formative years, these two impactful world events have made Generation Z more resourceful and realistic as a result.
3. They Are Independent Enough To Create Their Own Career Paths
Both Millennials and Generation Z have all kinds of information at their disposal twenty-four hours a day thanks to technology, however members of Generation Z tend to be more skilled at utilizing this information. Members of this generation tend to be independent and driven when it comes to planning out their future careers.
Thanks to the ever expanding Internet, Generation Z members are capable of researching and actively pursuing their ambitions like no generation before. Their own social media profiles are useful in branding themselves and making connections with important individuals who are pursuing the same opportunities they wish to pursue. Studies have found that 76% of Generation Z members desire to make jobs out of the hobbies they enjoy, rather than settling for a job they aren’t passionate about.
4. They Are More Accepting of Changing Societal Norms
This is the last generation that would ever be set in their ways, they are living in a world that is constantly evolving with every change documented minute by minute online. Generation Z members recognize that homosexuality, transgendered people, same sex bathrooms and cultural differences are no longer in taboo territory, and are becoming more and more accepted in mainstream society.
This is also the generation where travelling, gap years and alternatives to post secondary education are more attractive than the basic “high school, followed by university/college, followed by marriage, followed by family, and finally working till you die” path. Generation Z are following in the same footsteps as Millennials in regards to a drive to approach their life goals unconventionally, refusing to conform for anything or anyone.
5. They Value Quality Over Quantity
As a generation so engaged with technology and digital content on a daily basis, Generation Z tends to value quality food, clothes, places and experiences over quantitative accumulation of these things. This group of people has an endless amount of online resources to assist them in planning their trips, finding the best and most affordable restaurants and the exact products they wish to purchase. Generation Z also tends to be less trusting of brands and overall consumerism, not very surprising considering the amount of advertisements and promotions they are exposed to thanks to all the time they spend online. This exposure makes them more cautious and selective.
The Millennial generation may have revolutionized the online world with the invention of Facebook, YouTube and other online platforms, but Generation Z are considered the true experts when it comes to the digital age. This new group of young people are our future and with their unique capacity for openness, unconventionality and independence, the world might just be in good hands. Let’s see what the future holds before we begin to bad mouth and dismiss them the way we do far too often with the current generation.