Baby Boomers and The Future of Gen-Z
October 30, 2019
Greta Thunberg becomes an icon and inspiration to teenagers. The digital age takes hold, trapping youth in an obsessive phone checking, ungrounding, anxiety provoking world. Safety is compromised. There is almost a sense of being watched or tracked at all times. News outlets permeate every corner of our phones, distorting facts, and pushing political agendas before we even realize it’s happening. We become a slave to the things in which we see constantly. What is ingrained in our minds is there whether we know it or not. Yet, we are also a generation filled with people who question the information they are bombarded with. A generation of love, tolerance, and wanting to do the right thing. When Gen-Zers, my generation, are retired and looking back on the life we have created for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, will we be proud? I surveyed all four of my grandparents to gain insight into the link between the past, present and future. They also share their high school experiences and how those experiences shaped them. Their wisdom, wit, and knowledge on various topics create some contrast between each other, but they agree on many things as well. I will begin with my Grandmother on my mother’s side, who is affectionately called Grandmom.
My Grandmom, Mrs. Eileen Denney, went to Holy Cross Academy for high school in Kensington, Maryland. Mrs. Denney came from a hardworking family, and says that her husband embodies the traits she values most, such as hard work, kindness, intelligence and honesty. She believes Gen-Zers are inclusive to all people no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. She believes that this acceptance is one of the best things about Gen-Z. Mrs. Denney notes that Gen-Z’s addiction to social media is damaging. She recognizes that social media does not reflect reality, which is a belief that not many people hold anymore. She believes that if we “put our phones down,” we will have more time to focus on the things that really matter, like the environment. Mrs. Denney believes that her generation, the Baby Boomers, have not taken care of the environment and that Gen-Z will “bear the burden of this neglect.”
Furthermore, she understands the anxiety that high schoolers feel, such as anxiety about falling asleep, not wanting to walk up to the board in front of everyone, and even cheating on a Latin test. In high school, she learned that all you need is one true friend. She also learned that anyone can be an intelligent student if they change their perspective and the way they learn. She says, “once I accepted that I was an A student, I knew I could get there–I just had to work harder.” Her advice for the freshman is to “give it time,” when it comes to adjusting to a new place, schedule, and friends. In sophomore year, she talks about meeting friends who changed her life. However, she also states that sophomore year can “make the end of high school feel like a ways away,” but in reality it will “go by quickly.”
Eileen Denney’s husband, Jim Denney, (Grandad) agrees with his wife on environmental issues along with Gen-Z’s excessive use of technology and social media. He feels that the childhood of Gen-Zers has seen various advances in medicine, communications, and technology. In contrast, he notes that his early years in school were spent practicing atomic bomb drills whereas Gen-Z’s school years were filled with school shooting drills. He values doing your absolute best and having integrity, and he enjoyed English and Chemistry in high school. He went on to Georgetown University, noting that high school was not his favorite life chapter. A kind soul, Grandad believes that bullying others harms victims irreparably. Gen-Z has seen an increase in cyber-bullying; a less “regulated” way of bullying in which it can be hard to hold bullies accountable due to the “delete” button and the anonymity the internet offers. He humorously added that our generation “must find a cure for baldness.”
My Nan, Joanne Fitz-Patrick, just like my other grandmother, likes that we’re much more tolerant of others. However, she dislikes Gen-Z’s “social skills” as we spend less time in person and have less “face to face” time. She feels as though we are too connected to our phones. She stresses the importance of finding God in your life and having a spiritual basis to guide you. She values kindness towards everyone you meet, with no exceptions. Her high school years were good, but in her senior year she was ready to move on. Currently, she values the wellbeing of her family as new generations challenge the way Baby Boomers think and act. She doesn’t know what Gen-Z has improved for Baby Boomers, but she is eager to find out. For her learning style, she has learned she needs a quiet space.
Her husband, Mark Fitz-Patrick, (Poppy), dislikes the sense of entitlement some Gen-Zers have. He also doesn’t like the abuse of drugs and alcohol as well as drama on social networking sites. He likes Gen-Zers sensitivity to those who don’t fit into societal “norms,” our ability to “embrace technology,” along with our willingness to serve others. In high school, he enjoyed acting in plays as well as playing the saxophone. His best subject was Latin, and his worst was algebra. He fears that our generation will buy into the “global warming scam” and lose our freedom of speech due to political correctness. His biggest fear for the future of the country is socialism.
He notes that as a child, his family was not rich and they rarely ate out. Instead of being on technology, they played games that created bonds with one another such as chess, cards, and building tree houses and forts. He feels that God is a big part of his life and that his call is to share with others who are less fortunate. His advice is to work hard in all classes, even in the classes that you don’t like or with teachers you’re not fond of. As a teenager, he struggled with acne and weight, so he is no stranger to the insecurities a teenager can face, especially as a senior year high school student. He studied to become a priest, but ultimately ended up meeting my Nan and becoming a financial adviser. He values understanding both sides of an issue, something Baby Boomers and Gen-Zers alike can work on. He hopes for our future that we can maintain our freedoms and follow our moral compass given to us by our parents. He believes his mother and father are inspirations, as they supported five children, changed careers, and gained schooling.
In conclusion, all four of my grandparents are vastly different and alike when it comes to the future of Generation Z. It is our job always to take into consideration those older than us in order to make the most calculated decisions for our future as a whole.