Bet you didn’t know you were part of Generation Z

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If you’re anything like me, you hate the “typical millennial” lecture you get from elders who really like Applebee’s or can’t figure out their iPhone. However, the next time the lecture comes up you’ll have the perfect rebuttal: you’re not one—at least not likely.

Wait, what?

As it turns out, generational researchers are noticing a huge difference between the millennial population they named in the 80s and early 90s and the group of people who came along after that — a  group commonly called Generation Z, or Gen Z, for short. There’s still some dispute about what the actual beginning and cut-off for Gen Z is, but most, including Forbes, date the group as born from 1996-2010. That makes the oldest cohorts of the generation likely college juniors and seniors.

As it turns out, generational researchers are noticing a huge difference between the millennial population they named in the 80s and early 90s and the group of people who came along after that — a  group commonly called Generation Z, or Gen Z, for short.

 

A key characteristic for the millennial generation, especially for millennials in America, is an understanding and memory of 9/11. Gen Z, on the other hand, was either too young to understand or weren’t born yet when the towers fell. So, we grew up either entirely or mostly in a post 9/11 world where safety became a major concern worldwide. This, along with a childhood settled in the 2007 economic recession and evolving technology, is what researchers like Jason Dorsey say has molded the characteristics of Gen Z.

Welcome to the real world

We’re also more likely to recognize social differences between race, cultures and genders.

 

Gen Z, unlike their millennial counterparts, are not optimists. Dorsey’s team describes the group as realists and who are sometimes pragmatic. In a survey conducted by Dorsey, very few members of Gen Z felt as though the country was headed in the right direction politically or economically. We’re also more likely to recognize social differences between race, cultures and genders.

 

You’re a go-getter

After growing up watching the financial hardships of our parents and older siblings, researchers are noticing that Gen Z member are far more likely to begin working and gaining work experience at an earlier age. We’re also more likely to have entrepreneurial traits and believe in the American Dream.

You process information differently

For that same reason, if someone is bringing us old news, we are very unlikely to care.

 

Dorsey’s research focuses heavily on the digital native aspect of Gen Z. Not only are we more comfortable with technology than any other generation, it’s also changing the way we process information. Contrary to the argument that we have short attention spans, Dorsey points out in his research that Gen Z prefers smaller chunks of information because we live in a world of constant updates. For that same reason, if someone is bringing us old news, we are very unlikely to care. We’re also great multitaskers, which helps us study and watch Netflix at the same time.

Diverse and global

During Gen Z’s formative years, they saw a black president, the legalization of gay marriage and a population change where diversity became the norm. As Dorsey put it, Gen Z won’t recognize diversity until there’s a lack of it. This may be the reason why Gen Z sees a disparity between the treatment of different cultures, races and genders and why we’re more likely to stand for social equality. Our understanding of differences and other cultures can also be attributed to the technology mentioned earlier. Thanks to the evolving world of smartphones and the internet, Gen Z members around the world are more connected than ever
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Jenna Kopec is a junior communication major at NSU. She began as a contributing writer for The Current in 2015, became features editor in 2016 and is now co-editor-in-chief.

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