July 16, 2020
As many of you know, Mark and I have a High School graduate this year. Sophia will have her Roland Park Country School live graduation – for immediate family only- on the morning of July 20, 2020. Adorning masks and practicing 6 feet social distancing, the proud families of our girls are so grateful for this opportunity to celebrate their incredible accomplishments together. First on the list for most, if not all of us, on this list of accolades, are how these graduates, amongst all the 2020 HS graduates on this earth, were able to keep their heads high, while they also kept their nose to the grindstone and their eyes peeled to their bright future - as COVID-19 ransacked and invaded their present and future lives; all in the blink of an eye. These young adults are nothing short of miraculous as they tirelessly demonstrate an impeccably pragmatic and very driven nature, so representative of the Gen Z population, known fondly as the Gen Zers, who began to populate the planet in 1997.
RPCS Senior Pep Rally Fall 2019
What does Generation Z signify? Where does it come from? They follow the Generation Millennials. For decades, the Pew Research Center has been committed to measuring public attitudes on key issues and documenting differences in those attitudes across demographic groups. “One lens often employed by researchers at the Center to understand these differences is that of Generation”. To learn more about the Pew Research Center, please see the end of this blog.
So what do these Generations, also known as Generation Cohorts encompass? They provide the opportunity to look at Americans both by their place in the life cycle – whether a young adult, a middle-aged parent or a retiree – as well as by their membership in a cohort of individuals who were born at a similar time.
Generation Cohorts by Dates in 2019 as per the Pew Research Center:
Naming Generations is best regarded as a LENS through which to understand societal change, rather than a label with which to oversimplify differences between groups. These Generational cohorts give researchers a tool to analyze changes in views over time and this helps to gain an understanding of how different formative experiences (such as world events and technological, economic and social shifts) interact with the ongoing life-cycle and the aging process to shape people’s views of the world. With this perspective, the younger and the older adults may differ in their views at a given moment because their generational cohorts differ due to their formative life experiences.
I will reiterate, that all the while we discuss Generational Cohorts, it is important to keep in mind that naming Generations is best regarded as a LENS through which to understand societal change, rather than a label with which to oversimplify differences between groups.
Pew Research Center has been studying the Millennial generation for more than a decade. By 2018, it became clear to this dedicated group of researchers that it was time to determine a cutoff point between Millennials and the next generation, Generation Z.
In order to keep the Millennial generation analytically meaningful, and to begin looking at what might be unique about the next cohort, Pew Research Center decided to use 1996 as the last birth year for the Millennials Generational Cohort. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019) is considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward (which may end in 2012) is part of a new generation, Generation Z.
The historical, technological, behavioral and attitudinal data accumulated through various surveys and studies to understand how Generations differ and overlap, demonstrates more of a continuum across generations rather than a threshold or cut-off determined by large change and shifts in behavior. This means that the differences within generations can be just as great as the differences across generations, and the youngest and oldest within a commonly defined cohort may feel more in common with bordering generations than the one to which they are assigned. This is a reminder that generations themselves are inherently diverse and complex groups, not to be labeled.
Pew Research defines members of Generation Z as anyone born between 1997 and 2012. That means the group spans ages 7 to 22 in 2019. The organization cites important political, economic, and technological factors that helped them determine the transition from Millennial to Generation Z.
To cite a few of these factors:
Many believe that the rising Generation Z will get to the point where they are able to mold society into something that reflects their energies and values. Further, many believe that the truth they hold and defend so well is currently reflected in their integrity and moral conviction to correct the wrongs imparted upon them, which they have inherited in their youthful state.
In his down to earth and heartfelt manner, when President Obama gave his Commencement Address to the nation’s 2020 high school seniors ( all “Gen Zers”) on the May 16 2020 special “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020”, Obama spoke so eloquently to this concept of the truth Gen Zers hold and how they are actively defending it at this very time of crisis and transformation with the COVID impact upon them and the rest of the planet in 2020. To quote President Barack Obama:
Let’s take a look at their predecessors. The Generation Z has been very fortunate to build their future of the blood, sweat and tears as well as strong work ethic of the Millennial Generation.
Throughout U.S. history, the American Dream has meant the ability to build a successful life through hard work and individual initiative. Yet every generation has a different vision of exactly what that means. For parents of the baby boomers, in the aftermath of World War II, the driving factor was just to avoid another Great Depression. That need inspired the prosperity of the 1940s and 1950s and allowed the next generation to aspire to goals beyond financial security, such as pleasure and self-fulfillment.
Like the generations before them, Millennials have a version of the American Dream that is built on their parents’ legacy (Baby Boomers and Generation X), but at the same time distinctly their own. The major goals of the Millennials’ American Dream sound just like those of their parents and grandparents. They want to be successful at work, get married, have a family and achieve financial security for retirement. But their vision of what that looks like and how they want to get there, definitely involves changing things.
Perhaps the biggest change in the Millennial version of the American Dream is what success at work means to them. It’s not about the big paycheck or a pat on the back from the boss. According to the Allstate/National Journal poll, it’s about whether they’re “doing something enjoyable” and/or “making a difference in society.” In another study, more than seventy percent of Millennials reported wanting a workplace that feels like “a second family”—and as every employer knows, (me included), they’re more likely than any generation before them to pick up and leave if they’re not getting what they want.
Millennials see lots of room for improvement in the institutions they have inherited: a workplace layered with managers who create obstacles to innovation, a private sector that pays too little attention to social problems, and a federal government that isn’t doing its job, particularly in relation to two of their biggest issues, income inequality and climate change.
The good news is that Millennials are idealistic, hopeful, and committed to making positive change. They are a lot more optimistic than their older counterparts that things will be better next year. And despite the fact that they got the worst of the Great Recession—high unemployment rates just as they were starting out, coupled with a wearying load of college debt—almost ninety percent say they are confident they will have enough money to hit their financial goals in life. They are more optimistic about the state of the nation than their parents and grandparents, and more likely than any other generation to say the country’s best years are still to come.
Maybe that’s because they’re looking in the mirror. Despite the popular portrayal of Millennials as “selfish” or “entitled,” a Pew Research Center survey reported that their top priorities in life are “being a good parent” (52%) and “having a successful marriage” (30%). Coming in fourth and sixth were “owning a home” (20%) and “high-paying career” (15%). Almost none of them cared about “becoming famous” (1%). They want to be leaders in the workplace not only to make great things happen but also “to empower other people.”
Despite their economic hardships, they are on course to be the most giving generation in U.S. history. According to the latest Millennial Impact Report from the Case Foundation, 84% of them made a charitable donation in 2014, and 70% were volunteering for a favorite cause or charity.
The most wonderful aspect of the children being born since 1981 is their willingness to take on the world and learn to make their own way through it. These children are now adults if they are of the Generation Millennials, currently 26-40 years old or young/soon to be future adults if Generation Z, currently aged 8-23. More about the Generation Cohort that follows Generation Z, Generation Alpha, in future blogs.
If there is one thing Millennials are happy about, it is transferring most of the ageism stereotyping they have endured over the past decade to the new Generation Z or Gen Zers. Calling Millennials entitled and spoiled is no longer fitting as the oldest of that cohort either are or are approaching 40. Some are already running large companies or higher up the corporate ladder. Unlike the more optimistic Millennials that preceded them, Gen-Z are largely realists.
A frugal generation- Generation Z
Even before the pandemic, Gen Zers were known as being a practical and frugal generation.
A 2018 research by Dell Technologies titled, ‘Gen Z: The future has arrived,’ revealed that although they want job security and monetary motivation, Gen Z is less interested in climbing the corporate ladder and are more intrigued about supporting their companies’ growth and success. The research surveyed over 12,000 Gen Zers across the globe.
The report found that Gen Z looks for non-monetary factors in an organization, with 45 percent wanting to work at an organization that has meaning and purpose beyond simply getting paid. The survey showed that 38 percent of Gen Zs polled want to work in socially and environmentally responsible organizations. Dell’s report found a common characteristic shared by many Gen Zs which is the desire to make a positive impact on the world.
COVID-19 has emerged as a defining event for today’s Gen Zers and Millennials. Not to mention, Gen Zs are inheriting a world that is plagued with severe climate catastrophes, rapid extinctions and loss of natural ecosystems. This Generation more than any before them are willing to engage in environmental activism from a very young age to support causes they care about and are not happy about it. Many are practicing an eco-conscious lifestyle and have early interest in environmental issues.
But, Ageism (defined as prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person's age), can be debilitating for the youth because what is said gets buried under who says it. And from what we can see, Gen Z is more determined and louder in asking for change, and leading this pack, are some highly focused females. One of the most famous and talked about Gen Z activists is 17-year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden. She gave United Nations (UN) leaders a lecture at the 2019 UN Climate Summit in the most confronting way to push for greater action on climate change. The global strike has since inspired other sub-protests around the world, initiated by the youth.
I look forward to continuing what I hope is a dialogue with my readers, as I delve more into our Youth and how they will save our planet. I will close by repeating such important words spoken by President Barack Obama:
I welcome everyone to join me in celebrating the Planetary Youth while they place the spotlight on all aspects of our troubled planet to raise the awareness and create the change necessary for our survival. Whether born today (more to come about Generation Alpha) or forty years ago, we need to listen and follow their lead because with or without us, our youth looks at the world with a very heartful and earnest lens to Save the Planet. Someone has to....and they are ready and able to create shifts in our paradigm. Please listen and let our new youth leaders create positive eco-friendly, climate and planet stabilizing changes through socio-economic and political accountability and responsibility, while embracing racial and gender equality to create powerful diversity and unity. Our society molds our belief system. It is up to the youth on this earth to procreate and unleash a compassionate society that strengthens itself through strengthening each other and protects Mother Earth. Get out of the way AND RECEIVE THE MESSAGE. Our Youth is not afraid, they are cautious and ready to embark unimpeded.
Future blogs will highlight and outline how we are currently benefiting from our children and their generous and gracious gifts. Days are beyond unprecedented, we have Genesis in the making.
Ariane Cometa MD
your holistic doc
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July 18, 2020
Yes to all of this! I have two teenagers, so I am getting to observe this first hand. The world right now can seem awfully unsettling and disturbing but I think that often turbulent times precede periods of positive change and growth. Observing this next generation makes me feel optimistic and excited about the future! Glad to read this and be reminded to focus on the positive today, been feeling some negativity lately. Thanks!
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