On Generation Z


Paige DelMargo

We were conceived in the rubble of the Twin Towers like snowdrop blooms through January snow cover. Our developmental years were spent as the ash settled on the corpse of our counties pride.   Bitterness and fear were in the air of our first breath. But that part I don’t remember; though the aftermath, sandy hostility, is a familiar part of my childhood. Of then I can remember our celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s death like a holiday. Bloodthirsty elementary schoolers salivating over the demise of a man we didn’t know, and demise we couldn’t understand. These are our red memories, and like any generation we too have a distinct set of them.

Two-thousand and eight–that’s the bit I remember best. My most vivid memories of childhood are of financial worries. Sitting on the wood floor of my childhood room listening to my parents fret about the roof over our head. Their voices soft yet sharp, like they were short of breath, like the air was thin and they would  surely choke. With a blanket in one hand and my heart in the other I stepped into thin air. I timidly offered them a small pouch full of pocket change, the life savings of a child. My Parents received the gesture with silence. My mother offered in return a dazzling blue teardrop. Of this time, I remember the eyes of parents who wanted nothing more than to make their child proud of them. Wild eyes, afraid eyes. Families who on a daily basis tested how far pennies could be stretched, how far a gallon of gas could go, and how long the human spirit can face failure. These are the blue memories and we have laid them to rest, but like all generations, we too have a distinct set of them.

In December of 2012 another red memory. Sandy Hook, while not the first, it was a notable beginning of contagion that still plagues us. Later that year, in my sixth grade science class, I experienced my first lockdown. A short distance away tragedy arose at Arapahoe High School. The world lost Claire Davis that day. According to the official report it was over in 80 seconds but for many the blood still runs. The 21 century student doesn’t race through school eager to succeed but rather eager to live. That spring afternoon stays with me as  the inception of my education’s relationship with danger. From that day I also remember eyes. The fear in my teachers eyes, and the raw terror residing in my own. These are the bloody memories generation Z continues to face.

Some days  I look around and am shocked by our own calmness despite the storms that brew around us. Perhaps, to Generation Z, political unrest is all we have ever known. Perhaps there are so many things to be upset about right now our anger feels impossible to express and is manifested deep within until inevitably spewing out.  Yes, our past is sprinkled with cloudy skies and showers are hardly out of sight for us; but the gray of hair would be wrong to assume we want their pity.

In fact, many of their assumptions about us are false. They claim we know nothing of hardship, nothing of sacrifice, and nothing of strength but our past and present and most of all the future require the traits of us. Generation Z is the most diverse generation in history making us also a vastly open-minded and accepting group of people. In a time that is marked with division and aggression, a mass of people (second in size to the baby boomers) who are capable of embracing differences will become pivotal members of society.  While data concludes that generation Z is prone to mental health issues I argue that generation Z is actually more comfortable sharing their struggles with mental health than most generations before us.

We also are the among the first generations to have unlimited knowledge at the tips of our fingers and lifelong connection to technology. With this exposure to information, and in light of the spread of misinformation via Facebook in the 2016 election, there comes a great deal of responsibility and a need for a level of expertise. As generation Z  matures we will only become more acutely aware of the dark side of the online world and continue to perfect our “Digital Literacy”.

Of course we have our faults and whole lot to learn but time is still on our side. To my Generation Z comrades I say know yourself. Don’t doubt the lessons you learned from the past, and don’t doubt your importance now. I have heard that we were were dealt a bad hand and I would be ignorant to ignore that our future holds a great deal of responsibility and change; however, I believe that we have the rare opportunity to be the the unity we have wanted from the world our entire lives. Above all, I am proud to be a part of generation Z.