Progression paralleling the previous
How Gen Z's impact both mirrors the past and inspires the future
September 21, 2020
Over the past few months, a sort of movement has been building and spreading among countless young people; at the forefront of this movement is the collective reform-based action of Generation Z (Gen Z). In today’s rapidly changing climate, social activism takes form in many different ways: whether it be through social media posts, online petitions or in-person protests, our generation has quickly proven its keen interest and ability to start making change. Since a majority of Gen Z grew up using and interacting with the internet, these modern approaches to activism are becoming greatly effective.
Spreading awareness of important topics and worthwhile changes is feasible with modern technology. Though many members of previous generations may scoff at and dismiss the different platforms younger people use to spread their message, there’s no denying they reach a large audience. TikTok for example is one of the many outlets Gen Z uses. Although the app is usually used for people to discover videos, create content and share their creations, it has lately been utilized for people to share their thoughts and opinions on certain matters in hopes of informing and inspiring their viewers.
Earlier this year on May 25, a 46 year-old black man named George Floyd was killed under police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota after his arrest for the alleged use of a counterfeit bill. Waves of protests filled the streets the next day as videos of Floyd’s murder became increasingly viral. People spread info about the topic and effectively used social media and other modern platforms to get their message across. The vast majority of in-person protests were also products of communication via the internet. Countless Americans pleaded for change to help solve the persisting issue of systemic racism in the country, in large part thanks to the efforts of younger people and their devices. As the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement swept through the nation, protests also began to spark during June’s Pride Month. The protests contained a particular emphasis on the BLM Movement, as the two parties share many similar reform-oriented views. Again these drew massive attention and became monumental efforts as more and more people spread the word online. This truly showed how united the country could become as people of all different backgrounds and situations banded together through new and progressive means to achieve a common goal.
“Our generation has displayed that we can get along [for a cause]. This year has shown our viewpoints on things like the election, global pandemic and social and moral justice. In my opinion, we have been informed very well lately with the help of technology and social media. For example, the BLM Movement; I was amazed to see numerous teens my age speak out in support of this! This makes me think Generation Z could be one of the most impactful and powerful generations and will lead us to a better future,” said junior Gabriel Allaf.
There are many historical ties between the movements occurring today and ones in the past. The 1960s was a decade marked by the increasingly large-scale Vietnam War and the somewhat subsequent Civil Rights Movement. Needless to say, this was an era that saw ample change. The antiwar movement, for example, was an attempt to stop the government from dragging the military further into the depths of war. With many Americans rallying to get their troops sent home, the government slowly but surely followed suit, with the Nixon administration ending the U.S. involvement in the war. This was significant because it showed that by means of protest and activism, people could make real, impactful changes. This parallels the protests of today as many people unite to fight for what they strongly believe in and draw more and more followers simply through word of mouth. Just as young people then spread their message amongst each other, young people now also attract followers via similar methods. The Civil Rights Movement was another key example of a generational movement gone right. During these series of movements, many prominent activists rose in solidarity to change the divided America they were living in. A very popular example, Martin Luther King Jr., was a man ahead of his time who gave credence to many people via peaceful protests. MLK’s ideologies and methods still reverberate today, as peaceful protesting is one of the most common ways of bringing about social change. About 93 percent of racial justice protests in the U.S. following George Floyd’s death have been peaceful as well as non-destructive and have served to carry on King’s legacy triumphantly.
Amidst everything that has happened throughout the year, Gen Z has shown itself to parallel generations of the past but has also proven to be one unprecedented. They speak out about the political, environmental and socio-economic problems that many tend to ignore and they are setting the foundation for following generations. By borrowing influences from new and old sources alike, Gen Z and young people as a whole have demonstrated that they’re up to the task of making social change. They have shown that collectively we mostly all share common goals for people to be treated equally and to end discrimination.
“I feel like this is one of the most able generations ever. Our generation is so aware of what’s going on and judging the milestones we’ve made this year, I truly believe we can bring about promising reforms,” said senior Hector Hurtado.
Gen Z’s involvement in the hectic sociopolitical climate of today has shown their ability to change what lies ahead. They’ve displayed that when there’s a problem facing many people, they are not scared to do everything they can to solve it, even if the solution isn’t always easy. And due to the many, many problems they have seen, they recognize their obligation to fight and speak out for those who have been subjugated and kept down for years. Gen Z will greatly impact the coming times because, through our actions, we hold the power to end this cycle.