Generation Z: The Most Empathetic

How teenagers are disproving the stereotype that generation Z is full of unsocial, unintelligent, lazy kids

Back to Article
Back to Article

Generation Z: The Most Empathetic

Photo by Parra

Photo by Parra

Photo by Parra

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Print Friendly, PDF & Email

It seems that teenagers have always had a bad reputation. We’re lousy, no-good meddling kids who are overly dependent upon technology and have little to no social skills. At least, that’s what seems to plague generation Z, those who were born from 1995 to 2012. We’ve even been labeled as the “dumbest generation” according to Mark Bauerlein, who wrote a book about how technology is eating away the intelligence of everyone under the age of 30. However, generation Z has been unfairly stereotyped by the skepticism and cynicism of previous generations; it’s not that we’re dumb, we’re just different. Teenagers are  being swallowed into one of the most rigorously competitive academic periods the United States has ever known. We’re being tested more than ever before, from the SAT and subject tests to the ACT and AP tests. Because college is now seen as the minimum requirement to achieve success, many more high school graduates are planning to acquire at least a bachelor’s degree. Due to this influx in applicants, schools are becoming increasingly more selective, creating the frenzied pressure students feel to be an athlete, AP student, Honor Society student, valedictorian, class president, etc. So if colleges are becoming increasing more selective, how come we’ve been labeled the “dumbest generation?” You could call us the “most stressed generation” but we’re definitely not the dumbest, not with a projected 72 percent of us planning to attend a four-year college. Adults love to complain that teens are antisocial, tech-obsessed consumers who don’t know how to communicate. This isn’t the case at all — social media and technology have just expedited a different form of communication unfamiliar to older generations. Just because we communicate differently doesn’t mean that we’re antisocial. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are communication wonderlands that allow people to stay in touch not just within their close circle of friends, but with the entire world. Take Youtube for example– 100 hours of video are being uploaded each minute and 80 percent of Youtube’s traffic comes from outside of the United States. This type of international communication is mind-boggling when you realize how quickly ideas can spread to people worldwide– and generation Z is utilizing this to its full potential. For example, Youtube star Bethany Mota, 17, snatched up her fame and the hearts of two million subscribers with her videos about fashion, make-up and advice. She’s only one example of the many astoundingly successful teens who wouldn’t have been able to achieve their social media fame if it weren’t for Youtube. We’ve created an entirely new spectrum for communicating that has never been done before. Twitter is another phenomenal  communication forum that can be used for multiple communication purposes, from sharing bad jokes with your friends, to prompting political movements. Just recently, the #bringbackourgirls hashtag, used to summon support for the Nigerian school girls who were abducted by an extremist group, has been used more than 424,000 times. Users are trying to ensure that the girls aren’t left forgotten; and in some cases, the hashtag has been used to organize protests to pressure the U.S. government to send more aid to Nigeria. It’s easy to recognize the faults of every generation, and it seems that teens have always been scrutinized under the parental microscope. But it seems that present day teens are a more progressive group of people when it comes to accepting a world of ethnic and social differences. Today’s millennials (generation Y, born in 1977-1994) have been labeled the most diverse generation; 43 percent of the population is non-white. Now that this diversity is trickling to down to generation Z, we’ve been able to continue welcoming tolerance for anyone considered different. Because generation Z is strikingly different itself. Our attitudes towards acceptance have also been facilitated by the efforts of generation Y and the gay rights movement. Programs such as Challenge Day, created by millennials, have helped teenagers transform into the progressively accepting group they’ve been able to become. The racism and sexism that used to plague most of the United States is fortunately fading quickly, and although prejudice certainly hasn’t been completely banished, our generation is helping create a more open-minded community due to our rising tolerance. Consider the recent controversy surrounding Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers, and his racist comments about whom his girlfriend could associate with. Fifty years ago, this wouldn’t have caused such an uproar, because it was socially allowed for a rich white man to make racist remarks. It’s obvious due to the repercussions Sterling has faced that generation Y and Z clearly won’t tolerate any regression towards discrimination. So, don’t count us out. Yes, our generation is very different in comparison to the generations who’ve come before us, but what’s so bad about change? We’re not incompetent — we’re innovative. We’re using our technological environment to our full potential in order to improve the society we live in; and our generational characteristics are far more complex than the superficial labels of “dumb” and “lazy” teenagers. It seems that generational criticism is a perpetual cycle, each older generation picks on the younger, but the least our predecessors could do is recognize our contribution to society so far, and realize that there will definitely be more to come.