Two young women standing with their backs to the camera

Global, fearless and future-making. For Generation Z, this is just life.

It’s always tempting to put generations in a neat little box of characteristics, (“Millennials are entitled”, “Baby Boomers had it better than anyone”) but for Generation Z the box does not exist.

If there’s one thing that the Internet has taught us, it’s that if someone has thought about it, then it’s out there. And while Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers and Milliennials marvel, eyes wide, over the wonder of the Internet, our Gen Z family, friends and colleagues are rolling theirs. This is just life.

To attempt to understand the Generation Z mindset, you only have to look at what has come before. Born after 1995, these young people entered the world during turbulent times – they don’t remember the 9/11 attacks, but they live in a world changed by them. They grew up to a backdrop of economic crises and, unlike previous generations, a combination of pressures on parents and availability of the Internet made it difficult or impossible to protect these children from ‘fake news’ and some of the more nefarious aspects of life. As a result, they are realists, seeing and experiencing the world very differently to previous generations. We regularly see many exasperated column inches proclaiming that their need for screens is causing obesity, relationship issues, disturbed sleep and everything in between, but less focus is given to the ways in which this misunderstood generation is a force for positive change.

Gen Z see things clearly and globally

“Why focus on difference when there are more important things to fix?”. While issues of race, gender and sexuality clearly still require addressing, the distinctions that previous generations have felt are simply ludicrous to Generation Z, who see no sense in categories. Instead, they prefer to look at issues that affect everyone, all over the world.

Who? Greta Thunberg

Why? #FridaysforFuture  is the climate change demonstration that is gaining pace across Europe. Inspired by the actions of Greta, many tens of thousands of students are skipping school to take to the streets and raise awareness of global warming.

The legs and feet of a female, wearing ripped jeans and walking boots

They learn fast and fearlessly

As you might expect from a generation born to Google, these young people are impatient – in a good way. If they need a new skill, whether it’s gaming, cooking or applying make-up, then it makes sense to head to YouTube or like-minded online communities. School-aged Gen Z’ers are known to outpace their school curriculum in areas like coding, purely because online resources are often more up to date than those in the classroom.

Who?Gitanjali Rao

Why? Inspired by the Flint Water Crisis, where lead contamination in water caused an outbreak of Legionnaires disease, eleven-year-old Gitanjali worked with scientists to develop a portable test to detect lead-contaminated water, earning her the honour of ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’.

Feet in different shoes, dangling off a ledge

They see, share and question

Consider for a moment, a whole life tracked through data. It’s a knowledge innate in Gen Z that they are a target market and as a result, they have an almost impenetrable cynicism. They routinely skip ads, don’t instantly believe what they are told and have a sixth sense for spotting inauthenticity. As a result, brands are queuing up to make deals with Generation Z’s most outspoken and trusted influencers.

Who? James Charles

Why? James is a self-taught make-up artist, who learnt his craft via online tutorials and has subsequently gained over 14 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. James’ fans or ‘sisters’ love him for his authenticity and as a result he was appointed the first male ambassador for CoverGirl cosmetics.

Written by Melisa Kakas

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