For the most part, they are you grandchildren and great grandchildren. The first wave of Generation Z, those born after 1996 are 60 million strong and still growing in numbers. They are the first post-911 generation. They have grown up in the age of social media, smart phones, smart homes and smart cars. They witnessed their parents go through the housing bust and the Great Recession of 2008 which left many families in devastating debt. They came of age amid unprecedented political polarization unmatched in any time in our country’s history. They are weary of a college education because it means decades of debt brought about by student loans. And they are living in their parents’ homes longer than any generation before them due to the unaffordability of available housing.
It is little wonder that they are anxiety ridden and prone to depression and suicide. They are not the first generation in which school shootings occurred on a regular basis. That dates back to 1764, however, they are the first generation in which coverage of such events are exploited by a national media that is obsessed with exploitation and sensationalism rather than facts.
Gen Zers are expected to distinguish themselves in multiple ways from Millennials in the workplace. Gen Z will want what most workers want – financial security. But Gen Z wants a high level of flexibility and rapid advancement in a workplace that reflects wide-ranging diversity among their peers. They won’t play politics in the workplace because they simply don’t have to. If they don’t get what they want they are very vocal and straight forward about their desires. Today, the job market is extremely tight for employees at every level; ultimately, they are an invaluable commodity in today’s 21st Century economy. Unfortunately for them, this will change as the economic cycle will change as it always does.
Like it or not, the internet has shaped their view of the world and how they interact with others. Generally, their interactions are on-line, not face-to-face. They have even created a whole new, highly lucrative level of sport – gaming – in which they may never meet their fellow gamers who can live all over the world. Gaming is highly competitive, highly addictive, and highly anti-social. Like active sports such as football, baseball, golf, and tennis, expert gamers can earn millions of dollars annually at stadium events and/or on YouTube from the comforts of their bedroom.
Ultimately, this generation is not paying attention to the larger social picture. Many are understandably concerned about environmental issues and the climate but because they are not politically active or affiliated to date, they will have little to no immediate impact on the political machinery that controls all of our lives – from cradle to grave.