Gen Z: Life Happens, We Can Do Anything

Written by Cassidy Jackson

Photo by Sane Sunny

I  discovered the wonder that is Tumblr many months ago in the middle of the pandemic. I couldn’t have been happier. My real-life best friend convinced me to make a blog to support her blog in case hers went bust. It never went bust and I have been following people that reblog or post content that tailors to me and my interests specifically. I have decided to learn more about the world and help people try to understand all points of view.

For example, I recently came across a post a mutual reblogged, talking about why life feels pointless from a gen zer’s perspective. One person reblogged with a summary of them seeing a lot of teenagers losing hope because of what we see all around us, every day of every year. They stated it’s hard for teenagers to comprehend a better life because we have watched the world crumble before our eyes. We have watched animals and plants become extinct. We have watched the carbon levels rise at alarming rates. We have watched as the oceans have continued to become more polluted by the second. We have watched school shootings and terrorist attacks happen worldwide. We have watched countries condone behavior similar to what the United Nations feels is morally and ethically wrong. The pessimism and hopelessness have grown with each passing day. 

While my parents call me pessimistic, I actually have a more optimistic view than most gen zers. I still have hope (though goodness knows how) because gen z can change the world if only people would understand we have grown up with the world already in peril. This is imperative to understand because, without this understanding, there can be no cooperation or change happening as new issues arise. Those born after 9/11/2001 have grown up with that day looming over us like a storm cloud not willing to break and see sunlight. The past must be remembered, but it must also be a catalyst for change. The coronavirus, instead of being seen as a beacon of understanding, has been the cause for more unrest here in the United States as well as the death of George Floyd.  I am extremely tired of hearing about another school shooting or another attack on an Asian American or black person. It is an almost weekly or monthly occurrence the gen z in America have gone numb to. Going numb because of highly inappropriate acts is absolutely horrendous because these acts are not something to ignore, but to fight against. There have been skirmishes and other conflicts involving issues such as these, but why now? Why is it that when people have had enough, they fight back? It happened with women’s suffrage and the Civil War as well as the protests against the Vietnam and Korean War. Not only are we taking action, but we are more active than most people believe. The technology we “are addicted to” makes us feel we are a part of something even if it’s posting a post from Instagram on our stories, liking a post on any social media or even talking about things the last century would say is taboo. We are more connected now than ever which means the world should be heading in the direction of inclusion. This is not the case. The world we see is getting worse. The climate is worse than we could have ever imagined. The brutality towards people who don’t look and think like us as a society has grown tenfold in the last year. Astigmatism towards those in the LGBT+ community is still here and it has gotten marginally better in the United States, but in other countries, we still see the astigmatism is very real. As we see all of the horrible things happening in our country we like to call home, we believe we are alone. You are not alone. There are thousands, if not millions of gen zers who feel like you do. We want a world full of inclusion and solidarity, but instead, we get a world full of hate, separation, and grief. 

We don’t always see a way to fix it. We grew up in a broken world, ill-equipped and undereducated as to how to fix it. We can try but in the end… I  feel a sense of dread because the nature I grew up playing in is disappearing, the ocean I grew up swimming in is more polluted than ever, and the carbon emissions in the air are climbing higher and higher each year. How does one generation stop the world from ending? 

I am heading off into the world to become a marine science researcher with a university to study the effects plastic has on octopus and squid species. I know what humans have done to our beautiful home, yet I remain optimistic because I truly believe gen z can change the world. We are stronger than our parents believe us to be. We have all heard of Greta Thunberg and her work with the climate. She is only eighteen years old. We have all heard of the Parkland shooting in Parkland, Florida, but there is a movement that sparked because of a group of six survivors of that horrendous day. X González (21), David Hogg (21), Cameron Kasky (20), Jaclyn Corin (20), Sarah Chadwich (19), and Alex Wind (20) all decided to start the Never Again MSD. Cameron Kasky decided to start the movement, but he needed help so he enlisted the help of his friends in its early stages. NeverAgain supports the idea of the Holocaust and Armenian genocide and so much more. This is the kind of inclusion and knowledge we all need in our lives. They are bringing up issues long since tabooed and hushed over. No more will that happen. I have included the link at the bottom for you to find out what the organization does for you. In my research, I have come across a child who, in 2019, at eleven years old, is openly lesbian. I don’t know about any people who identify as lesbian out there (I’m totally straight), but would you feel comfortable enough to come out before you got out of primary or elementary school? Ella Briggs lives in Connecticut and had decided she’s going to be the first openly lesbian President of the United States of America. Not only is this a huge step for the LGBTQ+ community, but society as a whole. If one little girl can come out in elementary school, the world must be doing something right, right? We can all agree these are gargantuan leaps we have made as a world and society, but there is still so much needed to do.   

No matter where we are in the world, we can all agree on one thing: the world needs our help. We see no light at the end of the tunnel, but we forget we are the light at the end of the tunnel. Together we can change the world for the better one step at a time. The sense of dread, the hopelessness we all feel, the need to stay in bed and hide from the world, I feel it too. I would rather stay hidden with my laptop and books while other people fight the battle I want to fight. I can not. I have to force myself out of bed in order to go outside and enjoy the nature I took for granted when I was younger, but I know better now. I was not born a soldier, but I will wage war on what seeks to destroy our earth and our future. 

As I grew older and started understanding the world around me, the sense of dread I have started from what seemed to be nothing. It started as a whisper and then grew into a cacophony of thoughts. It has spread through our generation like a plague, a darkness that knows no bounds. I have had to learn to push these fears in the back of my mind. I have not learned yet how to push the fears away. The dread is always lurking as well as the doubt. Will the world right itself after hundreds of years of advancement? Will the world become what it once was when there was more green than concrete? Will the world ever go back to appreciating nature for the beauty within it? Can we turn back on the light? 

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I hope the answer to all of those will eventually be yes, but first, gen z has to be able to stand up and stand out for what we believe in without letting other generations get in the way. We are the future. Let us determine where this world shall end up.  Get involved safely in protests, marches, student council/government, clubs (start one if there isn’t one, specifically in the change you want to see in the world), and anything and everything you can to see the change you want in the world. Remember, every little bit helps. If we act as one, we are numerous. If we act together, we are strong. If we act now, there may be a chance. But only if we act. So I ask you. Act. 

Links to resources mentioned in the essay:

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11-Year-Old Lesbian

Cassidy Jackson

Cassidy Jackson can be found reading in her favorite nook or writing her yet to be finished novels in her room. She enjoys writing and reading because there are worlds she can go into that are old friends to her. She wants to change the world with her writing.