Gen Z is misunderstood by other generations

By Julien Hajenius | Web Editor

Growing up in the digital age, I’ve always liked to think of what it would have been like to grow up when the internet was nonexistent. Going through past YouTube videos or listening to stories from my parents helps me realize that we see the world from completely different perspectives. I like to imagine having no access to phones at a concert or using a map instead of a built-in GPS system. However, as technology develops and younger generations get older, we lose sight of how the world functioned pre-internet.

I believe the new age of technology should be embraced, and it’s already beginning to be. This is what sets Generation Z apart: growing up in a world consumed by tech.

I think one of the fundamental shifts within Gen Z is how we were influenced in our adolescence. In previous generations, family, friends and the environment would define your culture. There was a better sense of shared value and understanding, as they didn’t deal with cross-continental media at their disposal.

According to a Global Shapers survey, 74.3% of respondents agreed that Gen Z “define their own culture” rather than letting traditional institutions define it for them.

We live in a world where what is taught in school or instructed by our state is more meaningless than ever. I am not trying to say that our environment is not important, but because we have so much access to information, the school/state is only one frame in our development.

Our independence as a generation can be illustrated politically by the Gallup poll, which reported that 44% of Gen Z identify as politically independent, making them the generation with the highest proportion of political independents. I believe a significant reason why our generation is less polarized is our ability to identify faults in both political parties through access to information in the digital age.

The struggle with the cost of living and inflation also characterizes Gen Z. We see this with the millennials, who are keen to move back in with their parents after school, even though they are the most educated generation. According to the Pew Research Center, 52% of people ages 18-34 live with their parents, which is the highest since 1940. Considering the financial troubles of not being able to afford a home and rising rent costs, Gen Z has been introduced to a reality in which nothing comes easy.

However, I am proud to be a part of the generation of cultural independence and diversity, where we are able to shape our identity through a better understanding of the world. As the first generation to grow up with elaborate tech, we are equipped with both the knowledge and the resilience to solve the world’s toughest challenges. Our ability to access information empowers us to question, learn and adapt swiftly — reflecting on our political independence and our capacity for critical thinking.

As we move forward, let’s utilize technology as a force for positive change, shaping the world how we want it.