The Bridge: With much of Gen Z knowing nothing else but technology their entire lives, there’s a surprising schism surrounding the ever-increasing saturation of social media. Some young people are finding unlikely (and unwholesome) role models, while others are making the pointed decision to disconnect and bond with the real world.
Escaping the Matrix
You’d think a generation raised on a diet of electronic tablets and social media would feel pretty comfortable in our increasingly technological society. But we’re seeing clear signs that this isn’t the case, and it’s manifesting in some pretty interesting ways. Gen Z polled surprisingly low on being comfortable with “always being reachable” and optimism about technology in the future. Worryingly, those polled also felt it difficult to disconnect from the online world, which is a tough place to be in – you don’t want to go, but you don’t want to stay, either.
This sort of Stockholm syndrome is manifesting itself in very weird ways. There is an admittedly niche (but very real) collective of Gen Zers that have found a patron saint in Ted Kaczynski, AKA the Unabomber. The short version of Kaczynski’s missionary-style bombings of universities and airlines was that he saw society creeping toward a hideous technological servitude and had to be resisted at all costs. He wrote a manifesto in 1995 that espoused the radical notion that tech was the enemy, and that manifesto has been adopted by a community of “TedPillers” (a play on the red pill, blue pill concept from The Matrix, where the red pill signifies an escape from the illusion of reality, and the blue pill keeps the user blissfully unaware and asleep).
Yikes. 😬There’s a lot to unpack there, but suffice it to say that some kids just ain’t happy.
So What’s a Gen to Do?
So we know that Z-llennials are unhappy with social media, and that they’re one of the most purpose-and-identity driven generations – and the good news is that most of them seem to be channeling their energy into building a positive future. This applies to themselves and to others; they’re forced to think outside the box in the face of issues like home ownership, corporate careers, and climate change.
We’re seeing trends toward simple, non-commercial lives. Sure, some young people are into fast fashion and other capitalist quick-fixes, but there’s a considerable push for thoughtful, mindful practices. Conscious consumerism is not new, but it is now more easily accessible and on-brand for our thoughtful and socially conscious young generations. They know they own the future – how they approach it might become the most fulfilling challenge of their lives.