Generation Z not inherently self-centered, just conditioned by generational strife
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March 10, 2017
January 27, 2017
It seems that every generation following the previous one is labeled as the most self-centered, but perhaps no generation has received as much backlash as the Millennial generation. The Millennial generation, however, is growing up and the youth behind them is only becoming more engrossed in technology’s ever-tightening grip.
These kids are called “generation Z”.
In the 2015-2016 school year, I wrote a story about my generation’s formation of the selfie culture. That article looked at a very specific facet of technology and how youth had shaped it. This column reaches a much broader thesis on technology in which I answer the question: is our generation self-centered and why?
Each generation of youth has faced its fair share of disagreement from the older demographic. Technology has only become a new format in which to aim the blame.
“The app mindset,” writes Katherine Xue for Harvard Magazine “motivates youth to seek direct, quick, easy solutions – the kinds of answers an app would provide – and to shy away from questions, whether large or small, when there’s no ‘app for that’.”
For us, the Internet and this constant stream of shiny new apps is actually a world-wide library of endless information. Like a library, some information will relate to one person and some will relate to another, while some information is purely there for entertainment. There is something for everyone and we have the power to choose. How can that make us selfish if we are encouraged to use them?
We have been taught that speed is a basic component of work in this day and age. We have grown up to expect that we should receive information almost instantaneously. It is our problem if we do not have access to the information we need, even though it has been handed to many of us since day one.
Another important point is the fact that generation Z kids were never naturally narcissistic, as the stereotype goes. We were taught to focus on ourselves because the corporate market of clothing and other products has found Millennials and generation Z kids to be just more privileged trend-seeking customers.
“With the oldest members of this cohort barely out of high school, these tweens and teens of today are primed to become the dominant youth influencers of tomorrow,” Alex Williams for The New York Times says. “Flush with billions in spending power, they promise untold riches to marketers who can find the master key to their psyche. No wonder the race to define, and market to, this demographic juggernaut is on.”
To keep us coming back, social media companies tell us to take more selfies all while lecturing us on our incapability to be aware of our surroundings. Youth leaders told us to be more confident without teaching us the line between confidence and cockiness. Mainstream news outlets told us that politics is one big joke and that real world issues are not really world issues unless we are actually experiencing them.
As we grew up with 9/11, the Iraq War and constant protesting and violence from around the world with media coverage to last a lifetime, we guessed that it was just a part of life and those Millennial market research teams only fed off of that. Generation Z is not narcissistic. We are just doing what we have been conditioned to do.
The usage of technology does not equate to an individual’s laziness or lack of engagement. Our brains have been conditioned to function on constant speed and visual stimulation. If someone is using their phone while you are talking, it means they are probably just rude. This does not necessarily mean that technology is hindering their social capabilities. We are the most social generation in human history.