“The kid called the officer a pig. To his face.”
“A student challenged me in the middle of class about how my assigned homework was unnecessary.”
“A parent told me her son can’t pass P.E. because he has a reading disability.”
Wouldn’t you love to see the research that connects Shakespeare to dressing out?
‘To change or not to change: that is the question.’
These real-life examples and similar instances are popping up all over middle and high school campuses. But that shouldn’t cause any old people to murmur, “Dang those teenagers,” while shaking their heads and alphabetizing their VHS tapes.
If you’re of a certain age and hold strong feelings about respect and manners, the past two decades might have left a bitter taste on your tongue. And just when we’re seeing the Millennial debate die down, we have a whole new generation to learn about.
Chances are you’re already connected to this group, though you may not know what to call them.
The Youngest American Generation
Behold, Gen Z.
Born after 1996, the oldest of this bunch turn 21 this year, but like the two we have in our home, the majority are in their teens and tweens.
The Center for Generational Kinetics studies generations and their behaviors. Here’s how they explain the date ranges for this new group:
“The end of the Millennial generation and the start of Gen Z in the United States are closely tied to September 11, 2001. That day marks the number-one generation-defining moment for Millennials. Members of Gen Z—born in 1996 and after—cannot process the significance of 9/11 and it’s always been a part of history for them.”
This next group of wide-eyed wonders has the potential to set a new standard—and they just might have their predecessors to thank.
Also know as iGen, Centennials, and Generation Z, they are said to be more entrepreneurial than Millennials, are highly motivated, competitive, independent, not convinced traditional college is the best or only way to success, self-reliant, innovative, and goal-oriented.
They are more racially diverse than any other generation, and a huge portion of them want healthy food—especially if it’s portable.
They’re also the most technologically fluid among the human race, but… you might want to sit for this… as Deep Patel reported in Forbes Magazine, the majority of them actually prefer to talk face to face.
Ladies and Gents, there’s hope we’ll see eyeballs once again.
photo cred: Joseph Gonzalez
All that could be fantastic news for college professors and employers, but since some of these young bucks are still sleeping with teddy bears and learning to ride bikes, let’s hold off on judging this massive population of hormonal cuties.
Handing them a mop, plopping them behind the wheel and teaching them how to clean a toilet could potentially separate the wheat from the chaff.
According to the New York Times, Gen Z accounts for over 60 million people in the U.S. Within the next three years they will become the fastest-growing generation in both the marketplace and the workplace, possibly topping 84 million by 2020, making up almost 25% of the population.
That’s a heck of a lot of pre-adults who need to learn how to adult.
A few months ago this fabulous and slightly annoying word earned a place in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Adulting (v): to do grown-up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown-ups.
In other words, normal life.
Ready for a few other invigorating additions to Mr. Webster’s?
- Train wreck (me at 5 a.m.)
- Safe space
- Ginger (our eldest)
- Weak sauce
- Humblebrag (don’t attempt this in public)
- Seussian (R.I.P., Dr.)
- Photobomb (queso!)
- And one of my favorites… Yowza.
But back to the group some haters call train wrecks….
Our Millennial Amigos
If you’ve ever participated in Millennial-bashing, let’s remember that stereotyping a 18-year span of humans to all act one particular way isn’t exactly fair or accurate.
Well, maybe except for a few viral videos that left us snorting in the middle of guilty laughter.
But after living and working with approximately 68 of them over eight years, I can tell you two things:
- Those videos are accurate.
- Those videos aren’t accurate.
Conclusion? We see trends, but everyone’s different.
Think about it: if your parents or grandparents described your generation, what would they say?
Were you hungry like the wolf or were you livin’ on a prayer? Did you say “Papa, don’t preach” time after time, or “Wake me up before you go go”?
Just because I had a total eclipse of the heart and wanted to dance with somebody didn’t mean I wanted to be Jessie’s girl. Because let’s face it… we are the world, and it really don’t matter if you’re black or white.
Especially if you’re wearing a raspberry beret.
Maybe it’s time to remind the glass house-dwellers to clutch their stones and beat it.
I’m guessing most of us conceived in the 70s and raised in the 80s have a thing or two to say about the Walkman, fanny packs, Milli Vanilli and Aqua Net.
But our Gen Z offspring? They’re throwing around words like Supersonic Hyperloop Train and Yas Island, while telling us to Clap Back and Hit the Quan. Rest assured, they’re still speaking English, but don’t be ashamed if you need to calmly head for your dark closet and Google questionable words to make sure your favorite teen isn’t using a new drug and calling it a flower.
That’s a thing, btw.
Since I’m banking on the fact I don’t have any Gen Z readers, I’m talking to you, parents. And you, grandparents. And you, Mr. Neighbor of a young punk. And you, too, Influential Mentor Lady.
At the end of the day and the hype, let’s all remember that God is the creator of every generation, and finding the positive things about each one just might be the antidote for our anxiety.
Yes, some juveniles think, talk and behave different; that doesn’t mean they’re all delinquents. They may need a boost in the direction of adulting, but you may need them to program your Cozmo or Grillbot in the near future, so let’s bridge the gap, shall we?
P.S. Respect the old, don’t judge the young, even if they pierce their tongue.
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” ~Psalm 127:3
Sorry, Millennials… this one’s just too good: