It’s a world where the government cannot be trusted, wars tear countries apart, and natural disasters occur every few months. What may seem like a fictional futuristic dystopia is actually our reality today. For our generation, the world is a cruel place, and apparently, not our oyster.
How else are we supposed to perceive the world? We have grown up with terrorism, global warming, and the world’s greatest recession haunting us. Each natural disaster and terrorist attack is more shocking than the last, affecting the minds of young people who are growing into adults in this haunting milieu. Our generation has been forced to face the hard facts of life head on, and according to ABC News, this leads us to have more anxiety, paranoia and depression than any other generation before our time.
While some think our only anxiety stems from academic stress and competition, its origin is much deeper. We have been influenced to believe that life is hard, and that for us, it will be even harder in the future.
Noreena Hertz, an honorary professor at University College London, has studied the anxieties in teenage girls today and has found that “seventy-five per cent of teenage girls are worried about terrorism; sixty-six per cent worry about climate change; fifty per cent worry about Iran.” While these are just a few examples, they also reportedly worry about their own futures. “Eighty-six per cent are worried about getting a job,” while, “seventy-seven per cent [worry] about getting into debt.”
With every tweet and post, our generation’s awareness of catastrophic events increases. Not only do we become more conscious through social media, but also more opinionated. We are the first generation growing up in a world where our ideas and beliefs are shaped by social media, and where we share our feelings and opinions that in turn shape our world.
In just the last week, we read about the latest climate change records and the drought in California caused by global warming and environmental mismanagement. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “The range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.” These consequences are obviously a major concern for the future, leaving us, Generation Z, petrified about our ability to cope with the fallout.
Last week the news was full of stories of a Baltimore that looked more like a war zone. Freddie Gray, a 25-years-old unarmed black man, suffered a fatal spine injury while in police custody. Moments after the funeral, protests and riots broke out in the city and peaceful protests turned violent when buildings and cars were engulfed by flames.
Occurrences like these seem like a rerun of what we saw in Ferguson and prove we haven’t solved racism in the United States. The civil rights movement was during the 1960s, but it’s not just history; we are still exposed to racism today and the violence that results from it. Unfortunately, our generation has witnessed events like these blow up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Vine.
But Generation Z doesn’t have to be the generation of zombies and Armageddon. In fact, the tragedies and challenges we have lived through already have made us more empathetic. All of these inputs can actually be a good thing, because believe it or not, our generation appears to be more aware on a global scale than all other previous generations.
Perhaps surprising everyone but ourselves, recent studies have shown that Generation Z leads the way in appreciating diversity and showing compassion. According to Sparks & Honey Generation Z report, we are remarkable in the sense that we are the first generation where a majority believes in equality for race, gender, and sexuality. We are open minded and ready to make a change. Not only have we been exposed to the horrors of the world, but we have learned that problems like these aren’t going anywhere unless we commit to solving them. While some may see the world as having arrived in a dystopian future, we see it as the end of a tragic era and the beginning of a brighter future.