The Hope Lies With The Generation Z

generation z

Generation Z

Generation Z are those who were born between 1997 and 2012. As the world is going through a catastrophic change, it is they who are going to face the music/the hardships and miseries. On the other hand it is they alone who can save the world. Here we are mainly referring to youths from the developed countries – US, Canada, Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand etc. Many urban youths from million cities of India also share this. So do some youth from other developing countries, particularly from Latin America and West Asia.

Attitudes of seniors

By and large seniors disapprove of them. They criticize their language, habits, tastes, and ethics and so on and often indulge in lecturing them. Some youths politely listen but most show that they don’t care for this criticism. What can we seniors do? I will come to this towards the end of the article. But before that we have to know what these young people are going through.

What have they faced so far?

Response of a young woman born in the U. S. A. in 1998:

(Keep in mind the experience consists of events & processes beaming into the living rooms, waiting rooms in hotels, car dealerships & airports. And then of course onto screens 12 inches from their faces.)

1999 – Euphoria – Dotcom Boom – CNBC in bars & in living rooms.

2000 – Dotcom Bust

2001 – 9/11 & Afghanistan invasion

2003 – Iraq invasion

2003 – ’06 – Housing Boom

2008 – Housing Bust followed by jobless recovery

Reprieve for a decade plus.

2020 – Ready for job market

2020 – Lockdown & homebound.

2022 – Ukraine

2022 – War against inflation, looming recession, layoffs & hiring freezes

Now that sounds like a lot!

And some of us wonder why there is a teenage mental health crisis?

The Great Resignation, quiet-quitting

The Great Resignation, quiet-quitting, and a looming recession have caused major changes to the labour force. First, workers quit in droves due to a pandemic-induced burnout. Then, some of the ones who stayed on the job quietly started doing the minimum work required.

And more recently mass layoffs have come. The job cuts that started in the second half of 2022 have seeped into 2023, threatening workers across a number of industries, especially tech.

The latest trend is young men with at least bachelor’s degrees spending fewer hours working. They spent an average of 14 hours less annually on the job between 2019 and 2022.

Bai Lan and Tang Ping

The phrase, bai lan, which has its origin in NBA games, means a voluntary retreat from pursuing certain goals because one realises they are simply too difficult to achieve. In American basketball, it often refers to a team’s deliberate loss of a game in order to get a better draft pick.

On Weibo, the bai lan related topics have generated hundreds of millions of reads and discussions since March 2022. Netizens also created different variations of the bai lan attitude. “Properties in Shanghai are too expensive? Fine, I’ll just rent all my life, as I can’t afford it if I only earn a monthly salary anyway,” one grumbled.

In recent days, this phrase – and more previously ‘tang ping (lying flat) which means rejecting gruelling competition for a low desire life – gained popularity as severe competition and high social expectations prompted many young Chinese to give up on hard work.

But bai lan has a more worrying layer in the way it is being used by young people in China: to actively embrace a deteriorating situation, rather than trying to turn it around. It is close to other Chinese phrases, for example ‘to smash a cracked pot’ and ‘dead pigs are not afraid of boiling water’.

State media have taken note of this trend. “Why modern young Chinese like to ‘bai lan’?” one recent article in an official media outlet asked. “In fact, this is as a result of negative auto suggestions, repeatedly telling oneself I cannot make it… And this kind of mentality often leads people to adopt the ‘bai lan’ attitude.”

But the reality is not quite as state media suggested, says Sal Hang, a 29-year-old creative industry professional in Beijing. He says that for his generation of young Chinese, this attitude of letting things rot is likely to be caused by a lack of social mobility and increased uncertainty in today’s China.


Gen Z speak out on reluctance to become parents

I don’t think it’s responsible to bring children into this world,” Johnson said. “There are already kids who need homes. I don’t know what kind of world it’s going to be in 20, 30, 40 years.”

Other women interviewed also cited climate change, along with overwhelming student debt coupled with inflation, as reasons they’ll never be parents. Some younger men, too, are opting out and more are seeking vasectomies.

Workism is making Americans miserable

For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising transcendence and community, but failing to deliver.

By Derek Thomson

Yahoo Finance: Burned out by COVID, Chinese professionals take up nomadic life: ‘I wasted so much time’.

There are a lot more like this on the net. One concluding remark was that there three kinds of these young people:

  1. Some hope to make enough money and escape the coming crisis.
  2. The majority want to just give up. They see no hope.
  3. A small minority is moving towards activism, particularly on climate issues.

So what can a senior can do?

Obviously to learn more about the youth and keep track of young activists – interact with them, help them in any way they need and you can. It can be simply sharing a meal and chat or a conversation that leads to sharing some knowledge and experience you have. In some cases it can develop into a regular contact which can be mutually refreshing and useful.

Obviously this does not exclude other political, trade union and mass mobilization activities that the older generation has been doing. Most of it is still relevant. But the content and the style will have to change. What we are saying is that we should not give up on them because they are the ones who will have to act to face the crisis and save the world – both humans and all other living beings.

Maybe we should start working with Generation Alpha – those born in 2010 and after!

Acknowledgement: I had the benefit of discussing much of the contents of this article with Suyodh Rao, an economist who lives in Florida, USA.

T. Vijayendra (1943- ) was born in Mysore, grew in Indore and went to IIT Kharagpur to get a B. Tech. in Electronics (1966). After a year’s stint at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, he got drawn into the whirlwind times of the late 60s. Since then, he has always been some kind of political-social activist. His brief for himself is the education of Left wing cadres and so he almost exclusively publishes in the Left wing journal Frontier, published from Kolkata. For the last nine years, he has been active in the field of ‘Peak Oil’ and is a founder member of Peak Oil India and Ecologise. Since 2015 he has been involved in Ecologise! Camps and in 2016 he initiated Ecologise Hyderabad. He divides his time between an organic farm at the foothills of Western Ghats, watching birds, writing fiction and Hyderabad. He has published a book dealing with resource depletions, three books of essays, two collections of short stories, a novella and an autobiography. Vijayendra has been a ‘dedicated’ cyclist all his life, meaning, he neither took a driving licence nor did he ever drive a fossil fuel based vehicle. Email: [email protected]

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