Tag Archives: Gen Z

Will Gen Z save the world asks David Brooks

Will Gen-Z Save the World?

The revolt against Boomer morality.

There is some sort of hard-to-define spiritual crisis across the land, which shows up in rising depression rates, rising mental health problems. A survey that the Pew Research Center released late last year captures the mood. Pew asked people to describe the things that bring meaning to their lives. A shocking number of respondents described lives of quiet despair:

“I no longer find much of anything meaning, fulfilling or satisfying. Whatever used to keep me going has gone. I am currently struggling to find any motivation to keep going.”

“It would be nice to live according to my being rather than my blackness. I will never know how a totally worthwhile life will feel because of this.”

“Drugs and alcohol are the shining rays of light in my otherwise unbearable existence.”

“I don’t feel very satisfied with my life. I’m a stay-at-home mom and my life is endless monotony and chaos.”

The Pew survey reveals a large group of Americans down the income and economic ladders, who are suffering from economic scarcity, social scarcity and spiritual scarcity all at once. Less educated people were less likely to say that friendship was a source of meaning in their lives. They were less likely to say hobbies were a source of meaning, nor was learning, nor good health nor stability.

When people overall described the sources of meaning in their lives, they stuck close to home. Nearly 70 percent identified family as a source of meaning, followed by career, making money, and practicing a spirituality or faith. Only 11 percent said learning added meaning to their lives. Only seven percent said that helping others was a meaningful part of their life.

If you ask philosophers how people fill their lives with meaning, they usually point to some version of serving a cause larger than self. William James said that meaning was found in tireless struggle on behalf of some sacred ideal. Susan Wolf says that meaning is found in active engagement in important projects.

But the meaning of meaning seems to have changed. When people in this survey describe meaning, they didn’t describe moral causes or serving their community, country or God. They described moments when they felt loved, satisfied or good about themselves. They described positive personal emotions. As one respondent put it, “It’s easy to forget what’s wrong in the world when you are pretending to be a puppy with your daughter.”

It’s as if people no longer see life as something that should be organized around a specific vocation, a calling that is their own way of doing good in the world.

Everything feels personalized and miniaturized. The upper registers of moral life — fighting for freedom, struggling to end poverty — have been amputated for many. The awfulness of the larger society is a given. The best you can do is find a small haven in a heartless world. One respondent said he found meaning in the tiniest things: “Small-scale nature — individual bugs and plants — are quite pleasing. I like to be able to focus on things that don’t care about me or the larger world.”

 

I’ve just finished a four-month tour for my book “The Second Mountain,” talking with thousands of people, and I certainly encountered the disillusioned America described in the Pew survey. But the big thing I encountered was the seismic generation gap. People my age rag on the younger generation for being entitled, and emotionally fragile, etc. But this generation is also seething with moral passion, and rebelling against the privatization of morality so prevalent in the Boomer and Gen-X generations.

They can be totally insufferable about it. In the upscale colleges on the coasts, Wokeness is a religious revival with its own conception of sin (privilege) and its own version of the Salem Witch Trials (online shaming). But the people in this movement have a sense of vocation, moral call, and a rage at injustice that is legitimate rejection of what came before.

I recently met a group of high school kids from around the United States and Africa involved in the Bezos Scholars program. In our conversations they didn’t define their identity by where they were from, or even by their ethnicity and race. They defined themselves by what project they work on — serving Native Americans, working for clean water. Similarly, high school students generally are more likely to define themselves by their political stances and their vocations, rather than whether they are jocks or drama kids.

I’ve also found that college students are eager to talk about a moral project entirely absent from the Pew survey: Doing inner work, growing in holiness. Many seem to have rediscovered the sense, buried for a few decades, that one calling in life is to become a better person. Your current self is not good enough. You have to be transformed through right action.

It’s often uncomfortable and over the top, but we’re lucky to have a rebellion against boomer quietism and moral miniaturization. The young zealots may burn us all in the flames of their auto-da-fe, but it’s better than living in a society marked by loneliness and quiet despair.

Road to Change Gun Control by Never Again Students

June 15: March For Our Lives: Road to Change. Starting in a Peace March in Chicago, the students bused to 20 states and 75 cities to “get young people educated, registered, and motivated to vote.” They pointed out that more than four million teens turned 18 in 2018 and Jaclyn Corin said in email, “We know there is no better way to bring about change than voting.” They described their effort as “a youth-led movement on a mission to elect morally-just leaders.” (The simultaneous Poor People’s Campaign also emphasizes the morality issue.) Tactically savvy, they partnered with Rock The Vote, Headcount, NAACP and Mi Familia Vota, They encouraged students to form intersectional activist clubs in their schools based on relationship building. They sponsored a petition that got hundreds of thousands of signatures, created merchandize to buy, and reached out to partner with gun violence prevention organizations.[i] “Price tags” calculated the amount of money that politicians accepted from the NRA, state by state, to be printed out and displayed. The campaign’s specific goals are to create “a searchable database for gun owners; funding the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence so that reform policies are backed up by data; and banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic assault rifles.”

[i] https://marchforourlives.com/sign/

https://marchforourlives.com/local-action/

Why is Gen Z so Outspoken?

Michel Tallon, age 52, observes that the Parkland students and their Gen Z “tribe” at first glance seems like “fully formed wizards” but then explains that they have lived with the threat of terrorism, mass shootings, and active shooter drills all their lives like growing up in a war. They’ve seen flawed racist and sexist adults who’ve allowed the planet to be polluted and inequality to increase. They were criticized as overly sensitive snowflakes who want safe spaces and trigger warnings and overly politically correct people who warn of white privilege and non-binary sexuality. Tallon predicts that Gen Z will always be “multiracial, non-binary, non-dogmatic, digitally native omnivorously curious,” as well as bigger than previous generations. But their lack of respect for adults motivates them to take action adults won’t take. As student David Hogg said, “Or parents don’t know how to use a fucking democracy, so we have to.” He added, “It’ is truly saddening to see how many of you have lost faith in America because we certainly haven’t and we are never going to. You might as well stop now because we are going to outlive you.”

Michael Tallon, “These Magic Kids,” Medium, March 25, 2018.

https://midcenturymodernmag.com/these-magic-kids-1aefbbeb81cd

Gen X Man Says Youth are “Magic Kids” and explains why

https://midcenturymodernmag.com/these-magic-kids-1aefbbeb81cd

Michael Tallon, “These Magic Kids,” Medium, March 25, 2018

They somehow don’t seem real. They seem more like fully formed wizards who just popped into existence, as if the shooter who tore through their high school just showed up expecting sheep and found warrior-paladins instead.

But then it makes even less sense, because they aren’t just from Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. They are kids from everywhere. And they keep demanding that the media recognizes that they are from everywhere. These kids, these magic kids, keep saying to the interviewers, GO TALK TO THE OTHER KIDS. GO TALK TO THE BLACK KIDS. GO TALK TO THE POOR KIDS. GO TALK TO THE LATINO KIDS.

Then, as happened time and again today, when the cameras finally turn to the black kids and the Latino kids and the poor kids, THEY talk about other kids.

This isn’t a story about Parkland, Florida and a really smart AP class with great prospects. It’s about a full-on generation shift that caught me, and I’m guessing you, totally by surprise. These magic kids are from EVERYWHERE. more online….

Gen Z Differs from Gen Y

Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2000, has similar views to their older siblings and are also a large US generation. Their parents are Gen X. They’re also referred to as iGeneration, Gen Tech, Net Gen, Post-Millennials, Plurals, Homeland Generation, the Founders (to rebuild broken systems). They’ve always had technology like smart phones around them and teens are more likely to use them than watch TV. They’re less likely to use alcohol and drugs than older generations and have higher high school graduation rates than Millennials, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation research. Like Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, they want to be a force for good, but some studies say Gen Z is more conservative than Gen Y, and even more entrepreneurial. Older Gen Z’s grew up during the Great Recession; therefore, they value security and are pragmatic and entrepreneurial. Surrounded by technology since birth, they multitask but prefer face-to-face communication according to Deep Patel.[i] He views them as more individualistic, independent and competitive than the team-oriented Millennials.

A poll of 5,000 Gen Z university students reported that an empowering work culture is more important to them than salary and mentorship is important to them.[ii] They’re passionate about making the world better, including wanting to work for workplaces that give to their communities. Their top causes are equality, environmentalism, health, students, and poverty.

[i] Deep Patel, “8 Ways Generation Z Will Differ From Millennial in the Workplace,” Forbes, September 21, 2017.

[ii] Door of Clubs, “What 5,000 Gen Z’ers Tell Us About the Future of Work,” Medium.com, November 30, 2017.

View at Medium.com