Generation Z and False assumptions
What if what everyone is saying about Gen Z is simply not true.
Lately there have been a lot of things circulating about Generation Z that to me just seem to be untrue. I believe it all stems from some research and confirms what I have believed and been saying for a long time, that you really can’t survey this generation the way we did other generations.
They answer with what they think they should say, what they have heard the adults saying and what they think is the norm, the acceptable answer, They are very keen to please those around them, to not really stand out and not make a fuss, meaning they often answer as the person they think we want them to be, rather than who they are. I also think a lot of the confusion stems from what are inaccurate dates; I wrote about that here. Gen Z for me clearly starts in 2001 for all sorts of reasons. If you judge the gap period between the Millennials and Gen Z as the same, you get messed-up data. And for me the real challenge is that if people are building campaigns around this research, they are always going to fall flat as they are trying to appeal to a person who doesn’t really exist. This generation, like no other, should be judged on their actions.
So here is some of what I see as false proclamations that are going around about this generation.
Hungry for fame – some have even claimed they will do anything for fame, driven to follow the likes of Kim Kardashian.
I honestly find this claim ludicrous in relation to this generation; I think it apples more to the millennials than it ever will to Gen Z. Sure, a lot of them are expressing themselves on-line but if you really question them it’s not for the fame and fortune but more as a form of self-expression. They might flippantly say they will do anything for fame, but on investigation this is not the case at all. They are a generation much more likely to think about the consequences of everything, a generation more likely to copy celebrities out of mockery than because they admire them. And if you question what they want, they say that they want to be in charge of their own destiny, so the famous celebrities show them that you can have your own career and they are more likely looking up to them as boss lady than aspiring to be them. They are more likely to call Kim Kardasian out for something than follow her. While popularity and recognition is more important to them than their older peers, this isn’t fame as we knew it; its control and self- expression and to think they are driven by fame is to miss the point entirely.
2. Lazy to the bone
It seems to be that when I read things about their apparent laziness, it is clear to me that it is actually their lack of wanting to work hard in a 9-5 job, wanting instead to carve their own careers. I would suggest that this doesn’t make them lazy but makes them smart, and if that is what laziness looks like I want a piece, A lot of them are content creators and will most likely go on to work freelance in creative careers and yes, they are unlikely even more so perhaps them the millennials to work hard to get to the top, but I for one think this is a good thing and I believe they will force a change in corporate culture, even more than the generation before them. They are one of the most emotionally intelligent generations that we have ever seen and they hate feeling bad, rushed, stressed, upset and will be the generation to raise awareness of mental health in the workplaces. They don’t want to personally suffer for the sake of any job and I think those professions built on this kind of culture may suffer when it comes to this generation.
3. Disregard for others.
Say what? People link this one by saying they are independent and don’t really care about societal issues. On one hand this is right but on the other it is so wrong. This generation has a lot of regard for others, but only if those others are people in their inner circle. Where the millennials went out into the big wide world to make a difference, this generation go into their own communities of friends, schools and neighbourhoods to right wrongs. I have seen them band together to fight an injustice at school more than any generation before the;, they are smart, opinionated and galvanised to take action. You won’t find them sipping lattes talking about climate change for sure, but you will see them ganging up at school and fighting for the rights of a friend who they see has been treated unfairly.
4. Self-obsessed and narcasstic
This one tends to go hand-in-hand with a debate on selfies, body image and the amount of makeup they wear. There is a belief that this is because they are either insecure or narcasstioc and so the debate continues. But what if they are artistic and this is a form of self-expression and pushing their own boundaries? My daughter and her friends will often spend hours putting on rainbow eye makeup just because they are artists at heart, I believe, often using their bodies as canvases, pushing the boundaries of make –up, clothing and all kinds of other things. While some might do it because they are insecure or love themselves too much, most are doing it to simply express themselves and I for one think that is incredible.
5. Constantly on-line
I have written about this a lot before and I think it is one of the most misunderstood things about this generation. Technology to them is like breathing, it is like talking, it’s just there and you use it when you need to, it’s no big deal to them, and they are driving others to ditch their technology. While the rest of us are struggling with addiction, they are forcing parents to go tech-free, having tech-free evenings with their friends and actually preferring real- life conversations rather than just texting. While everyone thinks they are becoming more technology-obsessed the opposite is becoming true, they are wanting and demanding real-life experiences. They want vintage everything, from records to hard-back books; they are starting a revolution towards real, tangible things and real experiences. This is the generation that will make technology work for them, rather than becoming a slave to it.
So I guess if I was to sum this up in one sentence it would be to judge this generation on what they do rather than what they, say because they may actually be hugely different.