Ocampo: Generational experiences define Gen Z unlike any other

Aidan Ocampo, Columnist

Born between the years of 1997-2012, Generation Z has seen it all. Our childhoods have been defined by unique experiences such as a global pandemic, 9/11, numerous school shootings, and the most viable threat to our democracy in history, a Trump Presidency. Despite the challenges, Gen Z has prevailed as the most educated, diverse, and funniest generation yet.

Many of these traits can be attributed to the increasingly influential role technology has played in our lives. Unfortunately, our dependence on technology has led Gen Z to feel lonelier than any other generation. This is the result of our false impression that being connected on social media qualifies as human connection. When alone, even for short periods of time, members of Gen Z tend to glue their face to a screen to replicate the presence of another person. Our attention still belongs to our devices when we are with each other. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we replace our peers with an iFriend X Pro with Retina Display (or maybe we already have).

Despite this “loneliness epidemic,” some consider Gen Z to be the funniest generation. As teens, we mourned the loss of Vine, a staple in the content creation community. Now, though many of us are adults, we still enjoy the comfort and distraction that TikTok offers us. Social media platforms like Tiktok, Vine and YouTube have allowed us to develop an absurd sense of humor where we can laugh at the collective trauma we have endured as a generation.

Though the more contrarian individuals in Gen Z would disagree, there is something to be said for us all enjoying the same online content. Somehow, the same generation that engaged America in a confrontation of its systemic inequities also gave 54 million likes to a photo of an egg on Instagram.

Only our generation has the ability to utilize these large-scale platforms. Whether it’s creating historic societal change, or breaking world records for most-liked photos on Instagram, Gen Z has mastered the unique ability to capture an audience of this magnitude.

Gen Z is also the smartest and best educated generation. Having an unlimited wealth of information at our disposal has not gone to waste. In America, 57 percent of Gen Z is reported to have enrolled in a two-year or four-year college, compared to 52 percent of Millenials and 43 percent of Gen X. Gen Z will be equipped and educated to enter the world in just a few years.

Compared to past generations, Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet. In America, minorities make up almost half of Gen Z, in contrast to just 39 percent of Millennials. This unprecedented diversity of perspective and backgrounds empowers us to promote a society more equitable than ever before.

The unique traits of Gen Z also make us the best generation to confront an inevitable future of unprecedented global issues. Already, the Climate Crisis is provoking historic environmental damage that is only to worsen in the future. Past generations have left us the responsibility to innovate, collaborate, and implement solutions to these global threats. Although our parents and grandparents produced these conditions, it’s our duty to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren.

If you’re a part of Gen Z and you’re reading this, I hope you recognize the potential we have as a generation, and we’re not even 30 yet! And boomers, sit back and enjoy the show. As Kimberly Guilfoyle best said it, “The best… is yet… to come!”

Aidan Ocampo is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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