The Enormous Generational Gap of Gen-Z


Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

We’ve always heard the phrase, “my parents don’t understand me.” But due to the sudden change in life from the arrival of the internet and social media, this increases the disconnect and lack of understanding from parents to their children. It’s caused a strange power dynamic where the child is having to teach their parents how to conduct themselves online, making the young adult feel more intelligent which causes them to resent and disrespect their parents since they lack the life experience to be able to handle these types of emotions. Now a young adult feels as though they can’t go to their parents to ask for help on different social situations such as how to talk to a boy or how to deal with hate online. It puts them in a situation where they have to handle a majority of their problems without guidance from those who care about them, which can force them to gain role models from the internet. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, it can cause a separation between the child and parent causing the children to lack the physical bonds that will ultimately help them grow into the real world.
Another contributing factor to the massive physical and psychological gap between generations is the often twisted perception of one’s insecurities in the digital world. The thing about insecurities is that it’s very similar to attraction in that it’s totally subjective. The problem is most people struggle with not liking themselves, so the way you see yourself in the mirror is going to have to be negative; you’re going to be actively looking for something not to like. It’s also extremely hard to tell how attractive you are because we’re all stuck in our own perception of reality. That’s why you see some of the most beautiful people in the world still having so many insecurities and suffering from body dysmorphia.
To make things worse, the explosion of the internet and social media has resulted in people being able to degrade and insult people for the smallest things without any fear of repercussions. This can cause people to try to be “social media ready” in the way that they try to put on a facade to make people think their life is better than it actually is.
The fact of the matter is insecurities are often things that you think everyone can see, but in reality, you’re the only one who has the power to see it. Fortunately, this also means you have the power to stop seeing it, but you have to be able to believe in yourself and understand that the way you see yourself is an overrepresentation of your biggest “flaws” and insecurities.
Seeing as how the ever rapidly fluctuating and growing world has such a large impact on the future generation, another disconnect in the current landscape is the idea of following in your parent’s footsteps in a changing world. For hundreds of years, the children of the next generation would follow in the footsteps of their parents to achieve success. The blueprint was already laid out: if your dad was a blacksmith then you would become a blacksmith. Even in relatively recent times, this idea still held true to some extent. If your parents went to school to become a doctor, so would you. But the world has changed, and the problem that a lot of young adults are facing today is still being pressured into following in the footsteps of their parents. This often causes the young adult to fail in their attempt to become financially free because they aren’t playing on the same playing field as their parents did at their age. They don’t get paid as much, a degree is worth less, housing prices are going up, and the disparity between the rich and the working class is bigger than it has ever been.
Yet, many young adults still get scolded and all the blame is placed on their shoulders for not succeeding in a “bound to fail” plan. This cycle of “do as I say and then I’ll blame you when it doesn’t work out” and inability to live up to the standards of their parents can cause resentment to fester in the relationship between young adults and their parents. All too often, their best just isn’t good enough, and it causes the young adult to feel less inclined to go to their parents with their problems for the fear of being criticized or ignored.
The final and possibly most influential variation between generations is the balance of accountability. Accountability can be a challenge for many people because it changes from person to person based on how they perceive themselves. The fight for retaining accountability is changed when your actions only negatively affect others. A narcissist will often never take responsibility for their actions because they feel that the other person should have been aware of the situation around them and that they can do no wrong. This can be harmful and destroy relationships because of the improper balance of power in place. There is no one pressuring you to hold yourself to a certain standard or telling their side of the story. Children were taught in previous generations that we should be sorry for the bad things we did and would be held accountable for our actions. Unfortunately, in the world we live in now, it is easier than ever to be a horrible person and not have any negative repercussions thrown your way. We feel safe behind our computer screens and feel like nothing can touch us, and that allows us to speak to people in ways that we wouldn’t dare to if they were right in front of us.
Seeing two different generations grow up in the same environment, but be so completely different, is often offputting to see. It’s like we live in the same house but are separated by a glass wall that only allows us to see into each other’s lives rather than truly experience them. We often have a skewed view of the world around us, and it causes us to grow resentment or angst for people that would otherwise be unnecessary and unwarranted. It’s not the young adults fault, and it’s not their parent’s fault. It’s just the repercussions of the world being changed so quickly: constantly having to evolve to a world that doesn’t slow down for anyone.