September 21, 2019

What We Don't Understand About Gen Z

“Generation Z is finally — and, it seems, suddenly — becoming a topic of popular conversation. While generations are mutually constructed fictions, not natural phenomena, Gen Z’s members are most often understood to have been born between 1997 and 2012, making them 7 to 22 years old today. In January, the Pew Research Center defined its range; in March, the New York Times ran an ambitious multimedia survey of “America’s Most Diverse Generation”; Newsweek devoted this week’s magazine to dissecting the Zs.

As I rejoice alongside my fellow millennials that a new generation is on the verge of absorbing the bumbling intergenerational analysis older media makers have been all too happy to offer (we’d prefer they offer benefits), the nascent narrative about Gen Z — while so far kinder than it’s been to us — seems to miss the extraordinary capacity and creativity of this generation.

The thesis of Newsweek’s Gen Z issue is that this generation is a snooze. “If ‘entitled’ is the most common adjective, fairly or not, applied to millennials, the catchwords for Generation Z are practical and cautious,” one Newsweek piece states. “According to the career counselors and experts who study them, Generation Zs are clear-eyed, economic pragmatists.” Plagued by anxiety, they’re playing small, shelving their dreams, looking down.

Older generations can keep their pockets glued shut, their heels dug in, and their fingers waving if they want to. I’m with the kids.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Blackface. I’ve been writing about, and researching – and opposing – racism for more than thirty years. And make no mistake: blackface isn’t funny. It’s racist. Ask Megyn Kelly. A year ago, the former Fox News star was filming a segment about..."

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “selfie line” may be a “political phenomenon,” according to CNN, but it’s also a misnomer, twice over: The photos that supporters end up with aren’t technically selfies—campaign aides snap them—and no one waits in a line..."

"In the archives of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, there is an old postcard from the city aquarium of a large sea turtle with four boys straddling its back. The turtle lies flattened upon a pathway in front of a fence. At the feet..."

"As we celebrated my granddaughter’s third birthday this summer, I made the following rough calculation: I’d trekked from my home in New Jersey to her Brooklyn apartment roughly 150 times to provide once-a-week day care, plus other times as needed."

"That seems to be the emerging bipartisan consensus. “On the evidence we have, the meritocratic ideal ends up being just as undemocratic as the old emphasis on inheritance and tradition,” writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “Our..."

"It was the 2019 Pet Sematary that finally broke me. Was this really necessary? I seethed in a theater earlier this year, at a loss for why anyone would green light a self-serious update to a 30-year-old so-bad-it's-good movie. "Update," even, was.."

"Tuesday was election day in Israel. But no winner has yet been declared. As of this writing, it appears that the parties committed to supporting Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister will not win a majority in Knesset. At the same time, the..."

"The last time Netflix asked me “Are you still watching?” I had to think really hard about it. Was I still watching? Or at least enough to make my $16-a-month payment worth it? The subscription economy can be a wonderful thing. We don’t have to..."