Between Coronavirus, climate change and the treat of a global economic crisis on the horizon, it’s safe to say we’re living in uncertain times, and the waters, which have been murky for a while now, are about as unchartered as they can get.
Which is probably why Generation Z – those born between 1995 and 2015 and include Greta Thunberg, Yara Shahidi and last month’s Grazia cover star Billie Eilish to name just a few – have risen so spectacularly to the top of their collective game at such a young age, and are changing the narrative despite all the adversity they’ve faced since they had the ability to whip out an iPad at the (presumable) age of three, and see for themselves what kind of mess we’ve been getting ourselves into (and ignoring) for decades.
Selfishly, I long for a time when forgetting my reusable shopping tote during a grocery shop didn’t fill me with a sense of shame, anxiety and abject horror for hours afterwards. Or I could put my hand down on a surface without immediately trying to calculate how many millions of bacterial microbes have just attached themselves to my skin (and how many rounds of Happy Birthday are needed to wash them off). Because wasn’t life easier when you could essentially bury your head in the sand and not even think about where your food, fashion or germs came from?
“Having it all” has been the barometer of success stuffed down millennials’ throats for so long and for shame, future generations are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of my generations’ excesses. But instead of complaining about it – like naysayers who like to sling phrases like snowflake around, and claim today’s teenagers are only concerned with taking selfies and trying to get their latest TikTok to go viral -– Gen Z are stepping up to the plate, inciting change and challenging the status quo, while taking selfies and making TikTok videos that are about to go viral. Okay, Boomer?
They’re also informed, articulate and unflinchingly honest, and I do understand why that’s so unnerving for some. But it’s also exciting and inspiring to know as the mother of a one-year-old girl, that Gen Z are steering the proverbial ship in the most sustainable way possible, figuratively and literally. Ever better? They refuse to be defined and won’t stop themselves from doing something just because it hasn’t been done before.
And surely that alone is reason to celebrate, rather than relegate, their fresh look at our uncertain world.
Photo: Jason Lloyd-Evans