Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Five things older people get wrong about Generation Z

At 17 years old, Mariam Al Mallah has noticed the many misconceptions about her generation. Money-wasting, selfie-taking loners? Not quite, she says

Generation Z, or Gen Z is the demographic that comes after Millennials. Getty
Generation Z, or Gen Z is the demographic that comes after Millennials. Getty

It’s the circle of life: as generations get older, new ones take over the baton of youth. I’m 17 and realise that now it’s my time to be analysed as the “youth” of today. But, with the rise of social media and the explosion of the internet, it can feel like there’s a lot of judgmental comments landing on our generation. Our lives are given a lot of attention, but people often get us wrong. Here, I debunk five myths about Gen Z.

1. We do not care about our future

YOLO – that’s you only live once. This abbreviation used by Generation Z, mostly online and not IRL (in real life, keep up), has a similar meaning to “carpe diem”. Even though we say YOLO, we do have a balanced thought process. We want to live every day to the fullest, but also work towards having a stable future.

This means we study hard throughout our teenage years to be able to go to university. We know that this will start the path of numerous careers.

I cannot speak on behalf of all Generation Z, but I feel that this is what school prepares me for. I have weeks dedicated to work experience where students become more aware about day-to-day life in the workplace – making us more prepared for our future in a world that is changing daily.

Also, many people say our generation will have at least four career changes – which makes me enthusiastic for the future, as I will be able to branch out to completely different career paths. So YOLO, for us, is a necessity for the future as there is no step-by-step way of life that means you can find one job and stick to it. We now have to, and want to, live our lives more fluidly.

Mariam Almallah, 17, is an Abu Dhabi high school student, and is here to set the record straight. Photo: Supplied
Mariam Almallah, 17, is an Abu Dhabi high school student, and is here to set the record straight. Supplied

2. Whenever we are on our phones we are taking selfies

It is true that social media has put pressure on teenagers of this generation to portray themselves as having the perfect life, however taking pictures designed solely to receive compliments is not all we’re doing on Instagram.

We are not wasting all of our time scrolling through celebrity gossip. We are also following news headlines, becoming familiar with current affairs around the world and forming our own opinions about them.

News channels have accounts on basically every social media platform aimed at my generation. We use these to become engaged and educated. Social media is our generation’s way to connect to people, whether that’s friends we see every day in school or people we haven’t seen in years.

If we are taking pictures (which are not always selfies, by the way) it may be to solidify a memory that we want to retain, and revisit in our adult lives. These pictures will be a flashback, a reminder of what it’s like to be young (and don’t we all want to remember that?).

3. We all have short attention spans

Some may say we are lazy and do not concentrate when being spoken to. However, remember, we still have to get through school until the age of 18.

I’m still at school, and so for seven hours a day, five days a week, I am sitting in a building, constantly learning about topics ranging from the life-changing events of the past to inventions that will affect our future (we’ve got climate change, artificial intelligence and planetary exploration to tackle). So it’s safe to say I can concentrate.

Many teenage brains are spinning with ideas, and when we are passionate about a certain topic we are fully invested in expanding our knowledge of it.

Believe it or not, we do want to have conversations. We have interests and passions, ranging from politics to new trends, and we discuss them

Mariam Al Mallah

4. We have no awareness of money and finances

Even though most Generation Zers don’t buy their own food or pay their own bills, we are only a few years away from having to do so, independently. And the fact is, many of us want to learn how to manage money.

My friends and I are a year away from graduating high school and one of our main worries is what our future has in store for us. We are interested in knowing about the world of money. We may not have to manage it, yet, but we’re certainly aware of it.

Sometimes I go do the grocery shopping or buy my own clothes (and to a budget, so I look for bargains). I also constantly try to gain tips from my parents, or students already in university, on how to save effectively. Because without getting advice and learning, money will be difficult to manage when the time comes for me to do so.

Also, it’s important to remember that all generations start with pocket money and have to learn from the ground up. Just give us some time.

5. We avoid human contact

Yes, sometimes we are seen just sitting on our phone, but that’s usually when we’re in unfamiliar surroundings.

When surrounded by people I know, I leave my phone to the side because, believe it or not, we do want to have conversations. We have interests and passions, ranging from politics to new trends on the internet, and we discuss them. Retreating to our phones can be a way of fleeing fear and it can be the comfort that is needed for us to open up, and that’s OK.

Updated: June 25, 2019 11:41 AM

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