Generation Z

Emine Ebru Arslan
5 minutes

The digital world has gone beyond being a reflection of the cultures of societies/communities. A different plane of life with its own language and culture. With its own value sets, images and rituals of life, it transforms everyone who chooses to exist in it. I don’t know if in that culture, identity definitions are made more through judgments, labels and behavior patterns, or if they catch my eye more, but I am still trying to get used to encountering many concepts that we have been using as a management tool in the business world for many years as one of the ordinary cultural elements of the digital world.

Actually, I shouldn’t be surprised; it is certain that the human brain feels more secure about information that it defines, classifies and stores, and to which it attaches an adjective from its repertoire. This is why models, jargons and aphorisms about categories and generalizations find easy takers. This is the language of generations. Especially the discourses and epithets about Generation Z, as the children of the digital world who did not learn technology but were born into it, are an important food of social media. Both the “old” people of the pre-digital world and Generation Z itself are trying to fit a generation into a singular human identity by making generalizations, even though everyone’s portrayal is from their own perspective…

While the people of the old school grouped young people in the middle with expressions such as impatient, indecisive, anxious, quick to give up in the face of obstacles, selfishly prioritizing their individuality, and not knowing how to socialize, young people describe themselves as a generation integrated with the world, not judging differences, choosing to live life with multiple identities, and living socialization by protecting their individuality.

Of course, the spirit of time molds the children it raises with common characteristics, but I fear the limitation of fitting a whole generation into a singular body through social media.

These children may or may not be impatient. They may be rejecting patience as a rebellion against the parent who presents it to them as passive waiting, or they may be working somewhere as a child, and they may be accepting the same routine every day without calling it patience.

These children can be fickle. Whenever they are hesitant, they find the opportunity to change their minds or procrastinate in the limitless choices offered to them from childhood, especially in terms of food and toys. But there are also many who, because life does not offer them many opportunities, define the way out from a single point and continue to cling to that way out, sometimes desperately, sometimes with determination.

These children may be more anxious. Because they look at the world from a broader perspective and calculate more probabilities. They may be more anxious because they have higher expectations about life. Or, on the contrary, there may be those who see the seemingly insurmountable gap between alternative lives and their own reality, and who, in their pessimism, become very anxious.

They may not judge differences and try to fit more than one life into their world while searching for multiple identities. The one who, not knowing where life is taking him, fits his life into the identity of a branded coffee filled in a disposable plastic…

Can we judge him for choosing his role model from another part of the world in a world that is getting smaller and smaller with technology and globalization, for accepting his homeland as the whole world because the feeling of easy accessibility blurs borders in his eyes, or for questioning the references of the land of his birth more and louder than his parents?

Or maybe vice versa, can we be angry at those who, because we have not yet been taught to think critically and ask questions at school, try to find a response to their emotions and sense of belonging through valor and hollow rhetoric?

There may be those who struggle existentially in the social environment by working two hours for a photo to be published on Insta, or those who want to live their individuality in the crowd by publishing their digital creations anonymously.

In sum, the generational discourse is dangerous to the extent that it is useful, and reductionist to the extent that it is generalizing. In fact, any kind of modeling is limiting in itself. If frequent behavioral patterns help us to understand them, to relate to and support them without judgment or devaluation, then let us welcome generational theories. On the other hand, to manage and manipulate these young people, who are growing up with the spirit of the times, and to determine the kind of identity politics they will buy, to hell with all the theories.

In the end, beyond all the theories, there is one thing that children of all times understand and one thing that has not changed: The language of sincere love.

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