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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

The Beacon’s Belief: The lost generation

The division and palpable tension between those born from 1981 to 1996 and 1997 to 2012 is truly remarkable. Millennials versus Generation Z—the divide between generations of people—is largely due to the disconnect that technology has brought about between both groups through its advancement over the years. 

Many would argue that each generation of people has their own defining characteristics, so what exactly distinguishes Millennials from Generation Z? 

Well, Millennials are the first generation of people who grew up in a world of digital technology. These people witnessed the power dynamic switch from the Blackberry to the iPhone, from the GameCube to the GameBoy. Stereotypically, Millennials grew up during the pinnacle of Harry Potter and are, for whatever reason, just as entranced by it now as they were when it first premiered. They are very vocal about the fact that they cannot function without their coffee and still proudly wear skinny jeans, despite them being miserably out of fashion.

But who even determines what trends are in and out of fashion? Teenagers, who currently happen to be categorized under Gen Z are currently tasked with defining popular culture. Although Millennials may understand this, their conveyance of this through technology is what causes the disconnect. 

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For the most part, pop culture or historical references have constantly reinforced the mathematical barrier that lies between these distinct generations, the years 1996-1997. Yet, for many, the waters are murky when categorically placing themselves into a given decade that they are supposed to align with. The children born between 1997-2001 test these lines due to several factors: their personal immersion into modern technology, nostalgic media consumed, etc.

With all these subjective factors in mind, who is best to say as to what truly defines a generation of people that constitute more than a decade? 

The youngest cohort of Generation Z find themselves in elementary school, while the oldest are actively entering the workforce. The Beacon deems it fair to identify those born from the years to 1997 to 2001 as the ‘lost generation,’ because although they are categorized under Gen Z,  there are those that may feel disconnected and simply “too old” to be part of the vibrant, yet erratic culture that Gen Z has cultivated, and “too young” to identify with older Millennials. 

Besides all these underlying factors that only briefly create the stereotypical image as to what these two generations are, there is an unspoken evil that truly draws lines between the both. The experiences shared by these generations and technology, and, in effect, their ability to process modern technology and media, is the barrier that further wedges them apart. 

The newer generation has lived with ever-growing, expansive forms of technology that they consume in every aspect of their lives. Half of Gen Z has memories of stepping outside of their houses and playing with their neighbors, while the other half seems to be glued to their iPad because it is what they have known for the entirety of their lives thus far.

Born in 1995, Annalis de Armas feels as though there are clear distinctions between the two generations of people. 

“Millennials were the first generation to have technology, we got to live our lives with and without it. From what I’ve noticed, Millennials tend to have more social skills because we got to live a good amount of our lives without being glued to a screen,” the 25-year-old nurse said. 

De Armas happens to identify strongly with the rest of her peers, though she has come to appreciate a few distinct qualities that those in Generation Z often possess.De Armas accredits the instant gratification Gen Z tends to yearn for to them living in an age of constant technological advancements. 

“When Gen Z wants something, they want it right away because they have become accustomed to how quick the internet provides information for them. While sometimes this desire for instant gratification can be a bad thing, I also feel like this means the new generation is more strong-minded and forward—they seem to know what they want and they’re not scared of how they get it,” de Armas said. 

The amount and type of information an average teenager consumes now is years ahead of what a teenager growing up in the 90s would absorb. Younger generations interact with media differently simply because it is what most have had at their fingertips since they got their first tablet at the ripe age of six.

While Millennials were raised on Facebook and Twitter, Gen Z is being raised on Instagram and TikTok. Though there are cross-interactions between the two cohorts on each of these platforms, the way in which individuals maneuver them appears to be dependent upon which generation they identify as. This stems from the notion that a hurtful comment or even a triggering video appears to be less impactful than it was to the perceptive audience ten years ago. 

Having a constant source of information at all times has provided a grander sense of awareness for young people—a reality where struggles and injustices can be heard by an average high schooler on the other side of the world. However, this overload of information appears to come at a price that Generation Z has come to pay—desensitization. 

The constant consummation of information Gen Z has at their fingertips has resulted in an awareness of the events happening around the globe; simultaneously, this online awareness has oxymoronically furthered desensitization, numbing the impact that real words and actions can have upon people.

This is where the disconnect spawns from. The gradual decrease of face-to-face communication has led to a lack of empathy on an interpersonal level. Gen Z has no problem empathizing with the collective, with an entire group of people, because of the fact that most of their information is delivered through popular opinion, rather than on an individual basis.

Social media has made it so that popular opinion gets to dictate what matters consumers should direct their attention towards. Lack of exposure to the opinions of the collective meant less people possessed the herd mentality that younger people now tend to have. 

Whether technology and mass media have become blessings or curses is up to the consumer to decide, but the grand shifts in these arenas have furthered the generational divide so fervently that it has created a new one: ‘the lost generation.’

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The Beacon’s Belief: The lost generation