Generation Z was born in the aftermath of 9/11 and lived through the economic recession of 2008 in a rapidly heating world due to climate change. After the recent election, politics are more divided than they have been in years and nationalism is slowly growing. To top that off, the coronavirus pandemic has swept away something so many kids and young adults thought they knew for certain: the basic routine of school, home, school, home. Generation Z has been thrown into a world of chaos created by past generations. And that is why they are the ones who will save it.
As the first generation of people who have not lived in a world without digital technology, Generation Z has harnessed it as a tool to make monumental waves in society. In recent years, young people have been influential in the women's rights, racial justice, and climate justice movements, as well as a multitude of others. "Why them?" you may be asking, "what makes them so pivotal?"
This generation grew up amidst the economic turmoil of the events mentioned above bringing them an unfiltered perspective on the harsh realities of this world and a sense of social responsibility. This coupled with unprecedented liberalism gives the generation a unique perspective on current events that often transforms into protests for policy change and innovative solutions to major global issues.
Take Greta Thunberg, for example, an internationally known Swedish environmental activist. Many people know her for the way in which she criticizes people three times her age for failing to take sufficient action to battle climate change, and the pressure she puts on world leaders to do so. In her speech, "How Dare You" at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, she exclaimed, "I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope... we are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth." Young people like her have fresh eyes on these global issues that policy makers have been only partially addressing for decades. They are being heard by cities, nations, and even the world at large. The tide is shifting with new insight, ideas, and inspiring young people, whether older generations want to acknowledge it or not.
Generation Z is the first generation that has the tools to reach the entire globe with a single click. Social media is revolutionizing activism and amplifying anyone's voice, whether or not they have achieved predefined standards of success. As a young person myself, it is impossible for me to scroll through Instagram without seeing friends who have reposted information about current events or are commenting on social issues. And youth activism on these platforms goes beyond discussing obstacles in society. It is about demanding concrete policy change from the people with the to make these adaptations happen. It is about putting the eyes of a generation upon older generations and pressuring them not to betray the future. It is about drawing a line to tell the world that enough is enough, that change must come, and will come.
Generation Z has two vital tools in their hands that past generations lacked: unparalleled social responsibility and digital technology. With the will and the way, this generation is bound to be the one that makes sure the voices of people from all walks of life are listened to, and critical social issues are spotlighted.
Fromm, Jeff. “Gen Z Believes Their Generation Can Change the World.” Millennial Marketing, www.millennialmarketing.com/2017/01/gen-z-believes-their-generation-can-change-the-world/.
“Full Text of Greta Thunberg's 'How Dare You' Speech at UN Climate Action Summit.” Condé Nast Traveller, Condé Nast Traveller, 24 Sept. 2019, www.cntraveller.in/story/full-text-greta-thunberg-speech-how-dare-you-un-climate-action-summit/.