On the edge of adulthood, college students feel a sense of doom when it comes to the future. We were born into one of America’s defining moments, 9/11, and we really had to just hit the ground running from there.
Gen Z is defined as anyone born after 1996. We grew up with war, technology, the 2000 recession, Twilight, school shootings, climate change, impeachments, insurrection and a whole lot more. Senior Kaylee Seabolt, who was born in 1998, has witnessed all of these events.
“It does certainly feel like one thing after the other, like we can’t catch a break,” Seabolt said. “I feel like social media exacerbates that ‘cause we see it every single day.”
Gen Z is the generation that doesn’t know what life was like before technology and we look at our social media feeds every day, never taking a break which is exhausting. A break where we can just live our lives without some unprecedented event happening would be nice.
A study done by Pew Research Center on the social trends of Gen Z shows that we are more likely to have at least a bachelor’s degree, and very different political viewpoints than the generations before us like Gen X.
According to Gallup, Gen Z is more likely to self-identify as LGBTQ+. Gen Z said in a survey that 15.9% identify as LGBTQ+, 78.9% identify as straight/heterosexual and 5.2% have no opinion.
Sophomore Joshua Hansel said he thinks Gen Z is a more accepting generation of LGBT people, and more of that age group identify as LGBT due to growing up in a time of change.
“I found that most of Gen Z at least has understanding of everyone’s differences and that definitely helps those who identify as LGBT to feel more comfortable to reveal that part of their lives to the world,” Hansel said.
Hansel recalled the day same-sex marriage was legalized. He said he finally felt seen.
I know as a first-generation college student I share different viewpoints than my family members who fall into the Gen X category.
All we’ve known is violence based on politics. That’s why the insurrection on Jan. 6, where Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol building and vandalized it wasn’t surprising to our generation.
We feel disappointed because surely we should have learned from the past, but that has yet to happen as we still see racism, misogyny, political intolerance and climate change continuing to occur.
Lecturer of history at Franklin College Erin Barr said the idea of history repeating itself is real but only because unprecedented events never fully get addressed. The lack of accountability and ignorance drives mankind to commit the same mistakes over and over.
“We have periods where problems get recognized, revealed, discussed, addressed, but maybe not fully addressed so it kind of lays low for a while and then the cycle of awareness, discussion and addressing begins again,” Barr said.
She said this feeling of repetitiveness is exacerbated more through social media by seeing similar historical events over and over.
“Humans are creatures of habit,” Barr said. “Every generation receives a sort of social and cultural inheritance and the inheritance is history.”
This feeling of uncertainty and repetitiveness as we look toward our future doesn’t have to define us. If you’re like me, you’re tired of hearing the words “unprecedented times in history,” but we get to choose what we want to happen with the world we live in, and that starts now.