Generation Why

By - Tanupriya Mudaliar, 12th Grade

One glance at the internet of today, ever so alive due to the entire world having been confined in their homes for months on end, and the generation distinction becomes clear as day. There are the stereotypical folk, with their WhatsApp forwards and good morning messages; and there are the millennial, who’ve recently become adults, and are struggling with their newly found responsibilities and financial autonomy. They are the generation, who are buying TVs and LED lights because they can afford to. And then come we, the Gen Zs. The ‘sleep all- day- awake- all- night, socially anxious, moderately talented, but thoroughly- uninterested- in- anything- but- their- phones kids.

But are we all truly that easy to generalize? Those, who we so often and so disdainfully term as the ‘older folk’, were the same people, who were pivotal in the Civil Rights Movement, and were shaping the world we have today, complete with the invention of the GPS and the personal computers that we now take for granted. The millennial- are those, for whom we saw the rise of modern feminism, and the beginning of the acceptance of all kinds of love, between all kinds of identities. Similarly, we too have so much more in us. Given my lack of experience and knowledge of the older generations, I will restrict my writing to the folk my age.

‘Generation Why’ was a song made by indie pop artist Conan Gray, underlining the acceptance and normalization of the hopelessness of the state of the newer generations. He talked of the ‘hopeless, cursed with too much time’ kids who ‘get into trouble and lose their minds’, and I realized how true it rang for me.

My generation identifies with existentialist memes and dark humor, about the fallacies of society. We realize that directly criticizing things like the poverty gap, and the idiosyncrasies of the rich and politically powerful of the world, does more harm than good; so we choose satire- mocking the system and those that perpetuate it; mocking our weaknesses and the evils around us; mocking till we forget that it bothered us too, in the first place.

Collectively, we function as the cogs of the global machine of the Internet Almighty, taking in information, spreading information, laughing, crying, sleeping, lying, and fighting against and alongside folks, we’ve never met but understand better than we may, ourselves. Our battles take place in a virtual arena, with words and pictures as weapons- sometimes ill-intended like some battles may be- but mostly for what is right.

While some choose to malign and mistreat others through the anonymity the internet provides, others take efforts to correct the ignorance that seeped through into our time, despite the efforts to eradicate the backward minded, and the elitists in the past.

We make jokes about the futility of life, because it comes naturally to us. There is beauty in the normalization of mental illness and physical shortcomings- a form of acceptance that strangers give us, that some may feel lacking in the known world around them. We joke about the thousands of assignments we have, and have begun a culture of uncomfortably frank conversations with strangers, that are inexplicably way more alleviating than one could imagine.

Our first response to anything is ‘why’, which is often perceived as defiance, and not curiosity. This in turn has led defiance and rebellion to become a part of our personality. “Why can’t I talk to that man?” “Why can’t I eat meat on Thursdays?” “Why do we have to learn the quadratic formula?” “Why can’t I see other boys romantically?” Why? Why? Why? The gift of curiosity was given to us by the curious that came before us; the ones who dared to ask why; the shunned, the outcasts and the mocked. To not use this gift to our benefit, would be insane.

To avoid any misconceptions and angered claims of- “You’re not the only ones making a difference! Movements and change have been prevalent since time immemorial”-

 I recognize and respect that fact. Nothing we have today, would be possible without the work of all the people, who strives for excellence in their time. And it would be ignorant and self- righteous to say that we couldn’t work to be better in the future.

We are curious. 

We are the youth that brought the killers of George Floyd to jail, the ones that normalized love in all its forms. Our reputation doesn’t do us justice. We may be the ‘unmotivated, lazy, hanging out with friends all day’, the ‘forgot to wash the clothes’ or ‘cook the rice for dinner’, but we’re also the ‘fight for climate change’, the ‘acceptance and love for all’; we are sometimes too shy to ask for ketchup at McD’s, but we will march on the streets for justice.

This piece of writing wasn’t a form of pro Gen Z propaganda, or to put people down. It was to appreciate how far we have come, and how much farther we have to go. It was blatant romanticizing of things we consider daily life. The sunset pictures we all adore, the videos of laughter with our friends, the Reddit and Tumblr users, that know more about us than our cousins, the jokes that make you gasp in disbelief, but also crack a smile at how ironically accurate they are- that’s what this was about- the embracing of the imperfections we have (which certainly isn’t a new concept), and how much I adore the little things, that make us who we are. 


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  • This site was last modified on January 23, 2023.