Generation of Change

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Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Greta Thunberg, and Malala Yousafzai: what do all of these people have in common? Beyond being influential leaders of our time, everyone previously mentioned is a part of Generation Z. These are the most prominent leaders in our society today, creating change through initiatives like March for Our Lives, Fridays for Future, and educating girls in the Middle East, are a part of Generation Z, and are all under the age of 25.

Gen Z, also called the iGen, consists of people born after 1995. Characterized as anxious and being “always on that damn phone”, Generation Z tries to lay claim to being the first generation to hate Boomers and have to try and save the world. However, my Generation X parents are always quick to point out that, no, Generation Z is not the only generation to face hardships, and that there were great leaders in other generations as well.

During the childhood of most Gen Xer’s, nuclear annihilation from the Soviets was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Xer’s grew up believing they would not live past a young age because of the imminent threat of nuclear war, or if they did, it would be after a nuclear war.

In many ways, the culture of fear and despair these children grew up in is not too different from that which Generation Z is experiencing. Instead of nuclear winter though, members of the iGen face the threat of not having a planet due to climate change, attending schools where an active shooter could enter at any moment, and the demise of fundamental human rights due to authoritarian rulers.

Millennials experienced firsthand the shock and changes following the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center during their childhood, and Boomers worked hard to create a globally influential country in all aspects, civil rights to being the first nation on the moon. All generations have faced and will face their fair share of challenges. However, when it comes to overcoming them in a creative and timely fashion, Generation Z is the most equipped group to deal with their issues. Growing up in the age of technology has enabled those under 25 to master the skill of connecting online and making global connections, allowing for national and international movements and collaborations to occur.

In addition to being more connected to one another, Generation Z is projected to be one of the most politically involved generations yet. After years of watching low voter turnout, the iGen is projected to account for 10% of the voters in the 2020 Presidential Election, according to the Pew Research Center, which is an impressive feat considering only 28% of Generation Z will be eligible to vote. It is apparent that members of this generation truly care about what happens locally, nationally, and internationally, as they turn out for elections, follow news and injustices across the globe, have the ability to communicate internationally about these issues, and lead social movements like those mentioned above.

This being said, all generations have had their hardships and all wanted to do something about them. We all must work together to create a better future for ourselves and generations to follow. Being the newest and most qualified to operate in the new era of technology and hyper-engagement, Generation Z should lead the charge to change the planet for the better. However, they must remember that members of other generations can offer valuable insight into how to do so.