Gen Z and The Millenials
In January of 2020, the chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, posed an interesting question when the highest court in the nation was tasked with ajudicating an age based discrimination lawsuit. Chief Justice Roberts’ question dealt with a popular meme and catchphrase often used by millennials and Gen-zers when mockigly retorting to viewpoints or attitudes typically associated with Baby-boomers. In this case known as Babb v Wilkie, the chief justice wanted to know whether the use of the phrase “Ok Boomer” was discriminatory against older people.
Of course, the final decision of the court on Babb v. Wilkie didn’t rely on the answer to Justice Roberts comment on the meme phrase “Ok boomer”. This catchphrase itself however is an appropriate starting point in assessing the significance of classifying people based on their “generation”.
Many of us are familiar with terms such as Millennials, Gen Z, Baby boomers, etc and in this article, we briefly explore what it means to be of a particular generation and whether or not this system of classifying people is actually valid . In particular, we are interested in Gen Z and The Millennials.
Typically, generational cohorts are seen as spanning about 15-20 years and they are defined as a group of people who were born around a common time period, and experienced significant life events during the critical developmental years of their life.The idea behind this theory is that experiencing these significant events collectively influences individuals attitudes and perceptions on life in general in a crucial way.
For example, American Millennials (born roughly between 1980-1995) came of age in a post 9/11 world and therefore, the social and political
changes that were implemented as a result of this crucial event greatly influenced their ways of thinking about the world as well as their experiences.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the government implemented strict security measures for all travelers both leaving and entering the country. Today we live with these standards as the norm.
Furthermore, it wasn’t until after 9/11 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created and along with its agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as a reaction to the 9/11 tragedy.
These and other governmental actions such as the PATRIOT Act significantly changed the socio-political and economic environment, with the most extreme changes coming in the fields of immigration, .government surveillance of both citizens and non citizens, and the criminal justice system (in particular the detention of immigrants without trial). As the generation who’s developmental years came in this time, the attitudes and perceptions of American millennials were impacted formatively by 9/11.
On the other hand, Gen Zers (born approximately between 1995-2010) can be said to have in common as a cohort the fact that they are digital natives. A digital native can be defined as an individual that has little or no memory of the world as it existed prior to the internet and other digital technologies such as smartphones or even social media. For this group of people, they grew up in a world that was more connected and globalized than ever before due to the growing presence of digital technology in everyday life.
Most Gen Zers for example are more likely to receive most of their information from social media as opposed to other forms of media such as
print newspapers or TV…This of course has its many consequences. Among these consequences is the issue of mental health which researchers continue to investigate .
For instance, some researchers have labeled gen z as the “lonely generation” due to the fact that their social interactions with other people are increasingly online as opposed to in person,leading to individuals that are very isolated. On the other hand, their easy access to informationfrom all across the globe is said to make them much more tolerant and sympathetic with others from different walks of life, cultures, and countries.
It’s important to note that while belonging to a particular generation meaningfully influences a person’s views on life, it isn’t the only factor to be considered. Both life, and people are much more complex than that. To fully understand why a person is the way they are, one must be ready and willing to soberly investigate all the nuances involved in the forming of a person.
Tags: gen z vs millennials, Generational Cohorts: Gen Z and The Millenials, Generation Z, Gen Z
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