‘Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you, than answers you cannot question.’ This line from the book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century written by Yuval Noah Harari pretty much sums up my generation.
Mckinsey suggests that people born between 1980-94 make it to this esteemed league of questioners.
If you haven’t already guessed the generation I am eluding to, then let me spell it out. I am talking about the Millennials or Gen Y.
We are the children of Baby Boomers who were the most educated, well-travelled, health-conscious, and self-oriented generation of the lot.
We were famously known as a generation of Start-up’s (I had one too), wanted to be smart-mouthed and stylish like Harvey Specter (Suits), and took pride in knowing the correct pronunciation for the complicated Indo French dish at the restaurant.
We were not born into smart tech homes enabled with Wi-Fi and voice commands.
But we slowly and surely paved our way through landlines, dial-up connections, and began to master technology that changed the face of the world we live in today.
In matters of society, we added more women to the workplace and the party scenes, didn’t marry if we were not in love (We love, love with much love), and began to challenge the traditions and Status Quo.
Most importantly, we began to ask some serious questions, something the previous generations had not done as much.
Now, If this article was a play, an important character is about to enter the stage. One that makes me take a hard look at the world around and truly question the purpose of my existence or the future I am trying to create.
Aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed one morning, I notice a picture of TIME Magazine.
On its cover is a young girl in her track pants & sweatshirt looking purposefully but rather dismissively over the horizon.
She is the 2019 person of the year, Greta Thunberg. I google her immediately, read the work she is doing, sit back in my chair and go ”Holy Crap, she is only sixteen!” I try to recall what I was doing when I was her age & the answer is –Making embarrassing Hotmail IDs.
At sixteen, Ms. Thunberg was already putting to action what I felt we all needed to do but only hoped some quasi leaders would do it. We all know how it’s going with the Paris agreement.
This dauntless girl is a shining example of the capabilities I believe a post-millennial or Gen Z possess. They are early starters, real influencers, authentic, & self-expressive.
After much thought, many long conversations with friends, some back and forth, and a little hesitation later, I publicly declare I am jealous of Gen Z.
There is so much character to the younger lot, that I wish I am one of them. Other than the fact that they are younger and are killing the Vlogging and Blogging game.
Here are the Top 5 Reasons I am jealous of Gen Z:
THEY ARE YOUNGER AND SMARTER
Gen Z’s are native to the world of technology, with so much information at their fingertips, the world is their oyster. They are effortlessly learning the knack of sifting through all this information from the web, making them smarter at a young age.
They know what they want and how to get it, a lot better than millennials did around the same age.
THEIR ABILITY TO EXPRESS
This generation is authentic & they uphold that value to the highest standard. Gen Z’s were born living their lives on social media and are fully aware of the pressure it creates on young adults.
Apart from praising the perfect, they have learned to appreciate and celebrate all the imperfections too. Everyone is unique and can express themselves the way they are.
Many Gen Z influencers have struck this balance. Between being famous and being famous for the right reasons. For Eg: Zendaya OR Amandla Stenberg.
THEY DONT JUDGE AS MUCH
Diversity is not even a topic of discussion for this lot. It is the norm. They don’t know of the world in any other way.
Gen Z has broken down all barriers of gender & sexual orientation.
They don’t judge an individual based on these social conventions & everyone has a place under the Gen Z Sun.
For Gen Zs, there are no taboos associated with who you are or who you want to be. That itself is very beautiful.
THEY ARE MORE REALISTIC & SELF AWARE
The oldest Gen Z was about 13 when we went into a global recession. They have seen job losses and at least one act of terrorism in this lifetime.
They noted early on, that something was amiss in the way the world was functioning.
Combine this with the current COVID situation & you have millions of young cynics looking for some real answers.
As John Lennon would rightly put it, ‘They are cynical about society, politics, newspapers, and government, NOT Life, Love, Goodness or Death.’ That’s appropriate cynicism that makes one more self-aware.
THEY ARE INDEPENDENT
Google has given Generation Z access to years of collective wisdom at the click of a button. This gives them the ability to read & form opinions about a product, place, or political party within hours without relying on a parent or an older sibling.
This limitless access to information makes them independent. With this breadth of knowledge at their fingers tips, they are watching or reading about new things all the time.
If you want to change the mind of a Gen Z, you will need some hard facts. There is no easy way of reasoning with this lot.
Their understanding of a topic may not be as profound as a 40-year-old. But neither are many 40-year-olds profound.
Now, there are pundits my age and older than me who have called them the generation of TikTok, Kids that will be more clinically depressed than previous generations.
But hey! We were all called a ‘generation of something,’ and the world was ending in 2000.
Yet here we are, 20 years later, fighting a pandemic and trying to make the world a better place one day at a time.
No one gets it better than this group of youngsters as the future of their education, jobs, and life hangs in the balance.
This future we always place so much importance on doesn’t just belong to the logical minded it also belongs to the kind-hearted. Gen Z seems to be figuring out the right balance.
If this was an episode of The Crown, I imagine a millennial gladly handing over the throne to the next generation and saying, “Welcome, the world is now yours & I can’t wait to see where the future heads when you are fully in charge.”
As I am doing the first draft of this article, I see a picture of the 15-year-old Geetanjali Rao in TIME magazine. She is the kid of the year 2020.
Since I have already accepted my jealousy, I can revel in the future that youngsters like her and Greta are creating without being a millennial cynic or a spoilt sport.
Onwards and Upwards Dear Gen Z’s. May you take what you got and make it even better!
PS : Some analysts may quote an age range for millennials that may include people born in the years 1995 & 1996 as well & the reason for this, as per my limited knowledge, seems to be pretty simple; generational cut-off dates are not an exact science as yet. (If anyone has more information do share it in the comments).