When you hear the words Gen Z, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps you see a group of teenagers staring intently down at their phone screens. Or maybe you see the youth trapped in their own bubbles, unaware of their immediate surroundings.
The ideas commonly associated with Gen Z are often harsh and incorrect. Public opinion has a long history of assigning stereotypes, but it has been particularly unkind to our society’s generation of youth and upcoming young adults.
Often characterized as apathetic, unaware, dependent, uncaring and unmotivated, Gen Z has repeatedly fallen victim to harmful descriptors that overlook their many virtues.
To show that the current teenage demographic, like any group of people, can’t be compressed into a single, unchanging bundle of characteristics, let’s debunk 5 common misconceptions about Gen Z.
Our world today is more connected than it’s ever been. The ubiquity of technologies and platforms like smartphones, social media and the internet has contributed to building an easily accessible worldwide network.
In the midst of this state of connection, the argument still exists that Gen Z are oblivious to matters that don’t directly concern them.
One look at social media, and it’s quickly apparent that teenagers and adults are equally vocal about political, economic and social issues; the only difference is that teenagers tend to be similarly vocal about less-important matters like celebrities and memes.
This distinction seems to confound the situation and introduce the notion that Gen Z is out of touch with their surroundings.
In truth, living in such a connected society makes it virtually impossible to ignore world events, as they appear on the many universal platforms of information.
Although some teenagers are certainly oblivious to matters of great weight (hasn’t this always been the case?), it simply isn’t true that all of Gen Z is unaware of the world changing around them.
Many people believe that Gen Z can be constricted to a few generic traits, like being versed in internet culture and popular references.
In reality, they are just as diverse as the rest of the people that inhabit this earth.
The technological platforms we now have widespread access to can be absorbing; however, this does not mean that the teenagers who use them are restricted to a few bland interests involving the internet they happen to come in contact with so often.
Believe it or not, there are Gen Zers who actually enjoy going outside, having face-to-face communication, and participating in other activities that have nothing to do with the internet.
With the image of teenagers casting an unblinking stare down at their phones, computers and whatever other screens are constantly popping up, the idea that Gen Z is oblivious about current events is deeply ingrained in our minds.
However, as disconnected as teenagers may seem from traditional outlets of information like newspapers and news networks, it’s simply not true that they are unaware and unmoved by the goings-on in their environment.
One look at social media will dispel the notion that teenagers are silent about pressing issues; they’re just expressing their thoughts through a different platform.
That difference doesn’t warrant mislabeling them as complacent or uncaring about issues.
If anything, Gen Z is highly outspoken about the issues they care about, which encompasses a wide range of topics, from trivialities like movies and TV to serious points of contention like social rights and political action.
Perhaps the ultimate teenager stereotype is that of a dull-faced youth loafing around on the couch, with nothing to do and nothing planned.
Laziness permeates the description of Gen Z, shrouding all positive qualities in a harmful haze.
What Gen Z’s many detractors fail to understand is that, like all groups of people, teenagers are diverse.
It may be true that some teenagers shy away from involvement, but many are extremely active. Gen Z’s critics often forget that the majority of teenagers participates in athletics, academics, and a host of other activities.
5. Lack of Compassion
The last and possibly most misplaced critique of Gen Z is their lack of compassion.
Teenagers are often described as uncaring and unsympathetic, and part of this denouncement stems from the misconception that teenagers are unaware of the world around them.
As stated before, Gen Z is very aware of their surroundings and it is indisputable that they are vocal about those issues that shake our world.
And within the many outspoken opinions that bubble to the surface on social media, there is feeling and emotion underlying it all.
In the midst of social, political, and economic issues, teenagers are quick to uphold their beliefs and show what they care deeply about. If Gen Z is anything, it’s compassionate about the things they think are important.