Making Sense of The Week That Was: Gen Z & Gen A — The newest Architects of Our Future — What Kind of Future Might They Create?
News Wrap Edition #44 of Volume 1 | 19th November 2021
This week’s Wrap theme is entitled ‘Gen Z and Gen A — Architects of Our Future — What kind of world might they create? An exploration of the present and the transition to a multitude of possible futures for children and young people.
This is a week that celebrates Children’s Day internationally (helping children to recover from interruptions and losses experienced through the pandemic of the last two years), Anti-Bullying Week and Trans-Awareness Week here in the UK, as well as Guru Nanak’s birthday for the world’s Sikh community, there was a lot that we could have written, however, you would then be reading a book and not a ‘News Wrap’! Furthermore, this exploration is largely from what some may say is a sensitive western or modern/industrialized perspective, with some highlights of what is going on in other parts of the world.
So, let’s begin the journey of this week’s theme:
When looking at the descriptors for the various generations (Z, A, Millennials, Baby Boomers etc), it is noticeable that there are differences of a few years, for the year range of each generation. So to add to any potential confusion, we are going to refer to the BBC bitesize descriptors of the generations (well, what do you expect from someone who’s worked in education for many years), with the caveat that this may be a little much (but not too much) different to descriptors that the various articles reviewed below are using:
Generation Z are those young people who are born between 1993, err no, 1996, oops, 1997, ahh no wait a minute, 2000 (give up!) — 2010. Also known as iGen, these young people have not known a life without technology.
Generation A are born between 2010–2025. Also known as the Alpha Generation, they are characterized by being less label-orientated (and we are not talking about designer labels here, either 😉).
The younger generations are not only asking questions about why things are the way they are, what they ought to be and how they hope they will be, they are also demanding answers and actions. If the Q’s are not answered and actions not taken, this group of young humans are not afraid to take matters into their own hands. Using social media or tools such as ‘cancel culture’, they readily show their disapproval or lack of support for an individual or organisation.
But how different is this activism from previous generations of children and young people?
Whilst these are generalisations, and there are individual differences (family, culture, country etc), “there are some generational factors that are relatively consistent” ~ Corey Seemillar, Professor of Leadership Studies.
What is unique about Gen Z and A is they are both the youth generations and the emerging new leaders in a time of unprecedented change, characterised by fast pace technology development with access to information from all over the world and perhaps beyond.
They are coming of age in an era where space travel and space life are becoming more of a reality. At a time when we are experiencing a rise in consciousness in our human relationships, our mental health and our relationships with the environment and sentient beings, as well as a desire for inclusion, diversity, equality and equity to be more than just rhetoric. And all of this is in the context of a global pandemic, which has brought our fundamental human existence into question amid large-scale concerns about our climate and sustainability.
With this context in mind, we look to explore the past, present and possible future world of Gen Z and Gen A through a lens of the great, good, bad, uncertain and downright ugly. We shine a light on the potential challenges and optimistic anticipations facing these generations.
Will these young people make the pluralistic possibility of futures a reality, leading to greater individual empowerment with a sense of collective responsibility, or embrace a future where there is an emphasis on conformity and limited choice?
Why not join us on Clubhouse this Sunday the 21st November 2021 at 8am PST | 11am EST | 4pm GMT| 6pm SAST to make sense of it all, have your say and engage with your favourite Grey Swan Guild Wrap Editors: Doyle Buehler, Sylvia Gallusser, Sean Moffitt, Agustín Borrazás, Rob Tyrie, Ben Thurman, Antonia Nicols Esmee Wilcox, Louise Mowbray, Geeta Dhir, Gina Clifford, Su McVey with Clubhouse Captains Howard Fields, Scott Phares and Lindsay Fraser.
On that note, Let’s Wrap:
The Great 😇
In the world of work and employment, we turn to an article from the US, where Gen Z (72 million people) is described as the most diverse generation in American history with regards to race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. These digital natives are in a pole position to reinvent and re-imagine an egalitarian workplace and develop new ways of working. Through these initiatives, this generation may avoid the current burnout levels and ‘the great resignation’ other generations are experiencing.
Similarly, in China Gen Z are seen to be more rational, unwilling to work overtime or put in extra effort without extra pay and will not accept empty promises from their bosses. They are seen to value happiness and value life beyond work. This generation is also more willing to change jobs if they need to.
For those Gen Z’s who are entrepreneurs, having been raised in the internet age, they are able to use social media as a marketing tool using Instagram, TikTok and podcasts and elements of gaming to help their businesses grow.
Whilst Gen Z are more inclined to take part in thrifting, support slow fashion and have a desire to live sustainably; in the US, they appear to be turning away from religion in order to live out their values. It’s not the turning away from religion that is particularly noteworthy - it’s that these young people want to live a life that is congruent with their values. Furthermore, whether a life well lived is through living out one’s values rather than one’s virtues is definitely up for debate.
The Good (with a little bit of undecided)🤩
You’re likely to have heard the term FOMO (fear of missing out), however, I would like to propose a new term, FOFO (fear of being found out!). Although this may link in with current discussions about Imposter syndrome, the meaning relates to people who go to great lengths in hiding their online activity, just in case, an employer, or even more so, a prospective employer may check your online activity to assist in making decisions about your suitability as an employee. Despite these fears, we learn that the CIA is trying to recruit Gen Z and according to Jessica M. Goldstein, the organisation does not care if the Gen Z’ers are all over social media. If this is the case, it opens up other employment opportunities for this online-savvy generation and potentially leads the way for other employers.
Employment for this generation is also on the minds of business schools prepping our next chiefs - CTOs (Chief Technology Officer), CROs (Chief Revenue Officer) and CDOs. We get the tech and the revenue. But, wait, what? CDO? That’s Chief Drone Officer. MBAs are fast altering to encompass what Gen Z wants, what they have grown up in and where industry is going.
They also want help in dealing with it all, explicitly. The statistics from a 2018 report by the Mental Health Commission of Canada show that every week 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems or illnesses. Thirty-four per cent of those surveyed cited work as their main stressor. So business schools are adding courses like “Mental Health at Work” to the already jam-packed MBA curriculum.
When it comes to being paid for their work, according to a global poll carried out by the international financial consultancy firm deVere Group, 51% of Gen Zs would be happy to receive half of their salary in digital assets (cryptocurrencies) instead of fiat. The CEO and founder of the company explains that these young people are in a position to understand the ‘massive potential of digital currencies’. This does raise the question about how these young people will ensure the generations before them are not disadvantaged with the potential advent of mainstream cryptocurrency systems.
The homes and lifestyles of Gen Z and Gen A are also likely to look very different to the current lifestyles that are prevalent. Our very own Sylvia Gallusser of the Grey Swan Guild takes a look into the homes of the 2020s and how they can made more resilient. Sylvia offers a quiz to help you find out what archetype your future home could be. Whilst Richard Godwin explores the impact that tech may have on future homes, questioning whether those around in 2050 may be living in domesticity or in a dystopian nightmare.
Other lifestyle trends that some members of Gen Z are displaying is a return to — wait for it — retro corded headphones. Now, why might that be? I hear you ask yourself. Well, do not underestimate this conscientious group of young people who are making such moves both for aesthetic and practical reasons. No charging required,10x less expensive and it’s more obvious to the onlooker that the person is on the phone or listening to music, thus signalling ‘don’t bother me’. Other lifestyle trends include food, which will be part of the theme of next week’s wrap — so, stay posted!
When it comes to social connections, unlike previous generations, Gen Z also uses social media to form new friendships. When it comes to dating, according to the dating app Badoo, which polled single people, it was found that only 25% of Gen Zs want to settle down and that 77% of them still want to enjoy and go out with other people.
Badoo explains that ‘Nuffing season’ is the new dating trend, which says ‘No’ to rushing into commitment. Whilst in China, a recent survey by the Youth League of the Chinese Communist Party found that around 34% of the respondents do not see finding a life partner inevitable. Is this our future?
Furthermore, 43% of women responded that they would not marry or that they were uncertain whether they would marry. Similarly, in India, 23% of Gen Z adults were not interested in children or marriage. However, the authors of the article pointed out that the link between financial prosperity and marriage in India, was different to the link in China. Ways of meeting, commitment and financial issues all appear to be playing a part in the types of connections Gen Zs will go on to develop.
The Bad 😬
It would be remiss not to highlight Gen Z and mental health. Although it’s good that Gen Z are not afraid to talk openly about mental health, the Deloitte Global Survey 2021, found that the top 5 concerns of this generation were climate change, unemployment, healthcare/disease prevention, education, skills and training and sexual harassment. Climate change is the number one concern very closely followed by unemployment.
It needs to be mentioned that although concern about climate change was the top concern, the number concerned about this area had dropped by 4% in comparison to the 2020 figures, whilst concerns about unemployment had actually increased by 3% on the previous year. Concerns about healthcare/disease prevention is actually up 6% (the largest difference) on 2020.
Ernst & Young LLP released a Gen Z segmentation study in the first week of November this year. The study, which was a representative sample of 1,509 members of Gen Z across the US, found that 67% were moderately to extremely worried about their mental and physical health. They were also characterised by their skepticism, having insecurity about basic needs and being inclined to entrepreneurialism, as well as viewing environmentalism and sustainability as having growing importance for them.
Whilst in Cyprus and Singapore, research in the former found that an increase in stress levels was associated with a rise in conspiracy theory beliefs, which in turn predicted a mistrust in science and an unwillingness to adhere to public health measures during the pandemic. In the latter, a recent TODAY Youth survey 2021, found that the majority of young people in Singapore, aged between 18 and 35, have become less sociable and more cautious and fearful. However, it is also highlighted that the actual long-term impact on this entire generation is still unclear.
Climate change was recently on the international stage with COP26 taking place in Glasgow. However, concerns were expressed that ‘youth washing’ (young people’s voices being used in a performative way, without paying attention to them or acting on their concerns) was taking place, as well as the voices of female, black and indigenous people not having a place at the negotiating table.
Going forward, will Gen Z develop platforms where the voices of the ‘unheard’ have a place in important negotiations? From what we are seeing of both Gen Z and Gen A, the future looks promising.
Another marginalised group are the LGBTQI+ members of Gen Z who face disproportionately high rates of discrimination in respect of school, housing and work in the US, which in turn negatively affects their well-being. The other members of this social justice-orientated generation could be the pillars of support that these young people are needing.
The Ugly (with a little bit of great) 😱
Taking the position that war is bad, a recent incident led to an exchange of views between Russia and the US after the Russian military destroyed a defunct satellite. Commentary then led to speculation about future wars taking place in space.
If Gen Z has anything to do with it, such as 2 Gen Z’ers from Delhi, Nav and Vihaan Agarwal, who recently won the 17th International Children’s Peace Prize 2021, we could be visioning a different future. Nav and Vihaan are in good company, with Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg being previous recipients and collectively, these Gen Z’ers and others could be paving the way for peace, starting with sorting out what’s happening in one’s own backyard, as well as what is happening globally.
Continuing the theme of technology and the future, Wendy Chun, Research Chair in New Media at Simon Fraser University, shares the surprising roots of correlation and the trouble with machine learning. In her 45 minute keynote entitled, “Regressing to Eugenics”, she exposes some very ugly truths about the questionable algorithms and training data sets used as the basis for systems such as facial recognition.
As we incorporate artificial intelligence into more and more applications, what are the implications for future generations as we elevate STEM at the expense of the humanities? Should STEM be elevated at the expense of the humanities and will Gen Z and Gen A be able to achieve a balance and equi-importance of these two areas?
Wendy Chun is also the author of the book that goes deeper into this topic: Discriminating Data Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition.
The Grey Zone of Uncertainty (a bit of the great, the good, the bad and the ugly) 🧐
Whilst unemployment is one of the top 5 concerns of Gen Z, as mentioned above, it appears that there are some Gen Z’ers who are actually ‘overemployed’! The ethics of such practices come under the microscope and the question ‘Why?’ such practices are taking place, is also raised and explored. Daisy Schofield gives further insight into this issue.
How intrusive will tech become in the lives of Gen Z and Gen A’ers ? Will it be seen as welcome support or enhancement rather than an intrusion? It is reported that there are a growing number of scientists believe that there will be a device that could be implanted in the brain that can automatically trigger feelings of pleasure. It is thought that this may benefit individuals with disabilities or sexual difficulties. However, this raises broader issues around real human connection, the importance of safe touch and sovereignty. Will Gen Z and Gen A make decisions that safeguard these issues?
A Special Note on Gen A:
Although there has not been much of a mention of Gen A (Generation Alpha) in this wrap, we need to remember that the oldest Gen A’s are currently 11 years old and younger. Dr. Alexis Abramson, who has expertise in ‘generational cohorts’, predicts that Gen A will be family orientated and more digitally savvy than any previous generation. They are also likely to be a generation where labels begin to ‘lose some of their usefulness’ and society becomes more open. With this in mind, the future looks potentially bright.
An Invitation :)
If you are a member of the Gen Z (specifically aged 13–14) or a parent/carer of a young person this age then this is an invitation for you:
We are looking to develop a Young Sensemakers & Futures arm of the Grey Swan Guild and we will be launching a project called FUTUREGAZING, early next year.
If you are interested in getting involved in this project please send an email to: email@example.com
Please note: If you are a young person, please seek parental/carer permission for your involvement before contacting us :)
The collection of images, videos and charts delivered by the zeitgeist that is the internet and the news cycle.
Meme’s — All of These Things are not like the other
Travelogue of the Week- Recruiting Young Citizen to Wuxi on the Yellow River in China
Viral Video of the Week:
Recently, Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company Facebook has been rebranded to Meta to reflect the company’s investment in the metaverse (a virtual reality space) — something that Gen Z, Gen A and beyond are likely to become very familiar with.
Iceland Tourism then created a video inspired by MZ’s video about Meta, which was reported to have gone viral. MZ graciously replied to the Iceland video with humour. Who knows, Iceland may receive a visit from Mark Meta Man, himself!
Lexicon — Words of the Week:
With mental health being a priority for Gen Z, here are a couple of new words to the lexicon that are connected to helping with mental health:
Cli-Fi- Climate Fiction may be a way that can help us imagine a better future…
Urge-surfing is a mindfulness-based technique that can be used to avoid acting on any behaviour that a person may want to reduce or stop.
Real Meme of the Week — Ikigai:
GEN Z Values (and for some others too😊 )
Notes & References 📝
Wrap submission links to articles referenced in November 19 Edition #44 — The Wrap:
What’s The Wrap, What’s Next:
For those of you who are new to the Grey Swan Guild News Wrap, this is a weekly publication, which explores the current and future state of the world around a theme, through the lens of what we call a ‘Sense-Making Time-Spot’ (SMTS) or Sense-Making within a particular timeframe.
It’s a peer collaboration of the recent news, headlines, popular opinion, some statistics and any very recent research at the time of production. The news is then evaluated in terms of it being ‘great’, ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘ugly’ and ‘undecided’.
[Ed Note: As a disclaimer and before we continue, I would like to add that I am writing this piece as a compassionate observer and member of the Grey Swan Guild rather than in my professional capacity]
This week is edition #44 of a compendium of stories and headlines we’re tracking in the Grey Swan Guild’s Global League of Sensemakers’ Newsroom. Imagine a newsroom that went deeper, had little bias and didn’t have to get their points across in 40-second sound bytes or linkbait headlines. That’s us.
This week’s edition will be discussed thoroughly on Sunday the 21st November at 4pm GMT/11am ET/8am PT on Clubhouse.
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Part One: https://bit.ly/gsgsensethinkpart1
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Next week is Grey Swan News Wrap #45 — “Making Sense of the Week that Was” Food For Thought — What’s The Future of Food ? Lead editor Gina Clifford with Ben Thurman.
Join us on Sunday 28 November at Clubhouse for #45:
Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢
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