Through the Eyes of Gen Z
Whether you are on the right, on the left, or independent, you can't help but notice the cultural divide not just in the United States, but also in Europe. As this battle of personalities and ideas rages across the spectrum of social communication, there is a generational change taking place that has gone mostly unnoticed in the national discussion.
Today, the modern narrative we see is often driven by older generations. For example, Bernie Sanders is a member of the Silent Generation, Donald Trump is a Baby Boomer, and Jay-Z is of the Gen X era. Millennials, often the butt of everyone's jokes, are now also getting their footing in the mainstream culture. The Daily Wire's conservative owner, Ben Shapiro, and the left-leaning creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, are two who come to mind.
Of all these generations, each tends to lean more strongly to one side in the issues. Gen X, for example, tended to be more individualistic, while Millennials are well known for their leftward bend. However, something often overlooked is the generation following Millennials – Gen Z. According to research, Gen Z breaks the mold of a gradual move toward leftism and seems to be surprisingly conservative. As a member of Gen Z (born 1998), I can attest that this is true.
This might seem strange to older generations – why would a generation whose members live on their phone and in a culture that panders to the left of the political and social spectrums not automatically be more leftist in its orientation? The answer lies in social media itself. While older generations were beholden to the national media giants, notably CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, members of Gen Z have had social media at their fingertips practically since birth. As a result of the wide variety of opinions and commentators present on this new platform, Gen Z tends to be more free-thinking than previous generations.
- According to The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), "Gen Z has a conservative view of debt – 29% believe that personal debt should be reserved for a few select items and 23% believe it should be avoided at all costs."
- An article in the U.K. Marketing Weekly stated, "A survey of almost 2,000 UK adults finds that on issues such as same-sex marriage, transgender rights and marijuana legalisation, 59% of Gen Z respondents describe their attitudes as being between 'conservative' and 'moderate.'"
That is not to say that all people in my generation automatically bend to the right, as is demonstrated by the Parkland shooting survivor and gun control activist, David Hogg. However, the rising popularity of figures such as Dr. Jordan Peterson and Dennis Prager demonstrates a renewed interest in the enlightenment and traditional liberalism. This becomes even more surprising when you consider that most of the educational system tends to lean to the left. Certainly, this fact pays testament to the freedom of ideas that has been provided by social media – despite many of the big corporations' attempts to squash right-leaning outlets.
Another element of social media to consider is the ability to see the news instantly, sometimes before the national media even report on it. Terror attacks, stock market crashes, earthquakes – the world can be a scary place when you have it all at your fingertips. I sometimes find it odd when I hear my fellow young students – some of whom who are not even conservative – discussing the most recent terror attack in a faraway country. In my mind, this has played a large role in producing a more right-leaning view as to security and personal gun ownership among my peers.
Something that I think has further led to Gen Z's embrace of traditional values is some of the Millennials' inclination towards fairly extreme leftist positions. The notion of people switching their sex on a whim and hormone treatments for young kids are good examples. The anti-male voices within third-wave feminism have further turned off young women who like young men. In short, the anti-science, anti-reason, and just generally anti-fun positions the left promulgates have turned off many younger people and made them open to at least hearing the positions of many on the right.
Now, I do not write this to say all people in my generation are going to be far-right-wingers – that notion is absurd. What is apparent, however, is a renewed interest in basic reason and a more balanced approach to politics and social life. As a result, I do believe that we will see an even split between the right and left, if not a stronger bend toward the former, once my generation has come to power in politics. With that said, none of this would be possible without the wise voices of older generations that have been focused on educating the young and ensuring the continuation of reason in our world.
Obviously, this is just my take on the available data and my own personal experience. I am sure there will be many students who disagree with me, and I welcome everyone to do an open-minded examination of the research and draw his own conclusions.