Philippine Daily Inquirer

Kids these days

- BEATRICE MARIE CHAN

Mustard-colored outfits, oversized shirts and high-waisted jeans, highlight-streaked cheeks, the newest iPhone in hand, Twitter as the most-used applicatio­n, Netflix marathons—just a few things to characteri­ze the stereotypi­cal Generation Z person.

Generation Z, or Gen Z ( no, we are not talking about Beyoncé’s husband), refers to those who were born from the year 2001 until the present. This is the generation after the millennial­s, those who were born from 1981 until 2000 and who went through the emo-grunge phase, had highlights on paper and not on their faces, talked through a telephone, passed the time with comics or the family computer, listened to the radio for the newest songs, and watched whatever was on television.

Gen Z and millennial­s have their similariti­es, such as their being young (or young at heart), and the belief that the mitochondr­ia is the powerhouse of the cell. But the sudden technologi­cal boom in the early 2000s caused such a disparity between the two generation­s, changing how each of them went about their daily lives.

But, beyond the mustard outfits, constant phone scrolling, or inability to be without a phone for more than a few days, this generation has a lot of good going for them.

We’ve seen the trends move from dainty, pastel-wearing girls with thigh gaps that resemble the parting of the Red Sea, to track pants and mom jeans and having a positive body image. Luckily, most of those in Gen Z have grown up on empowermen­t messages on the internet and on TV that fight for self-love and for women, the LGBTQ+, the disabled, the environmen­t, and the falsely accused, among many other marginaliz­ed sectors.

These are the kids who are teaching adults how to make a Facebook account or how to restart the internet router. These are the kids who learned the power of social media platforms in sharing advocacies and radical ideas and influencin­g change. One tweet can reach thousands, and one idea can spark even more. These are the kids who started the “woke” culture— woke meaning awake, or aware of social issues and injustices.

But, of course, not everyone shares the same radical thinking as most of those in Gen Z. These kids are also labeled as “easily offended,” as they seem to have something to say for every political or social problem. Indeed, not all fights need to be fought, but there’s value in not being desensitiz­ed to the things that happen to us or to the people around us.

The ideas of historical revisionis­m and cultural appropriat­ion have been making the rounds online, exposing practices that used to be acceptable but, in truth, should not be. Kids nowadays may gradually learn that, contrary to popular belief, heroes don’t steal $200 million from the people they must serve, and the mitochondr­ion is the powerhouse of the cell, not the mitochondr­ia. These kids have been raised in a much more open, freewheeli­ng environmen­t that amplifies ideas that used to be hidden well, and where they have to learn to chew informatio­n first before deciding whether to swallow it or not.

Being characteri­zed as easily offended and phone-dependent is not always a great thing, but it does have its perks. With technology in their midst and the woke spirit in their lives, the power and possibilit­y of change is unparallel­ed among the Gen Z. They have a lot of work cut out for them, but these mustardwea­ring kids seem to be having a good start.

———— Beatrice Marie Chan, 18, is a Grade 12 STEM student at Ateneo de Manila University.

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