A Gen Z cusper during an election
I was asked this week to write a bit about what it’s like to be a Gen Z during an election, and I felt like I needed to do some research to formulate what my opinion and experience would be. Maybe it’s just me, although my perception of others around my age is that most of us are in a similar boat, but I don’t feel totally invested in elections. That said, I think this year it may be a little different as we see digital platforms take over.
Firstly, let me define what a Gen Z is. Those born between 1997 and 2012 (I’m a ‘97, that’s why I say cusper) are considered Gen Z-ers. Some characteristics of those in this category are that we are the first generation to be “digital-natives,” meaning we grew up in a world that used technology in our everyday lives, from the beginning. Diversity is also a norm for us. For most of our lives we have learned the importance of, and grown up hyper-sensitive to, inclusion and diversity.
We are financially minded as well. Many of us have seen our families take hard recessional hits and we think wisely about spending and saving our money. And owning a house one day appears to be only a dream.
Additionally, we are quite an emotionally sensitive generation. Mental health is a large and open topic in our lives and we take factors that affect our mental health very seriously.
Finally, Gen Zs are considered the most politically progressive generation. According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s study on generation Z’s, most generations ahead of us tended to lean more to the left; however, we are leading away from those views, being highly concerned about LGBTQ2+ rights, being progressive about social issues and issues of diversity, climate change related to human activity, and it’s generally thought that we feel the government should play a greater role in solving these types of problems.
I think in the last couple of elections we have been in a pretty unique position. We have seen that certain parties have taken to the social landscape much stronger than others, and I feel that those who are trying to be very modern online are also tapping into the issues I mentioned above. The parties seem to be leaning into this new “audience” and catching them where they are. (Which, as a marketing nerd, I think is a pretty great tactic.)
This could be both beneficial and detrimental. In some cases, I think voters will really resonate with this online voice, and feel as though that candidate is more “up on the times.” On the other hand, is it somewhat unprofessional to have your possible political leader dancing the trends on the internet? Is it just a ploy to get followers? I mean followers in the sense of an online audience, but I guess obtaining real followers IS actually the goal.
Another thing that I find muffles the information is all the dramatic finger pointing, accusing, outwardly bullying and degrading of one another. I understand that they’re trying to prove they’re the better candidate, but it seems like high school to me. I end up thinking they’re all full of nonsense, but watching the “arguing” is almost as riveting as a good episode of “The Bachelor!”
The internet has a fabulous way of telling stories, whether they’re real or fake. I know there are lots of people who feed into the “fake news,” but I think us Gen Z’s, for the most part, have a way of weeding through that. I went to school for media, and I consider myself a rather tekkie person, so perhaps I’m just biased in that. Maybe that also leads me to take everything with a grain of salt, making me struggle to believe anything I see.
I have grown up in a world where adults always say that political leaders “just say what they want you to hear, it’s all lies, they take your tax dollars and spend it on whatever they want, they don’t actually care about anyone but themselves.” Perhaps this has subconsciously tainted my views of anything political.
I do think that, as I get older, and particularly with my position currently writing for the newspaper, I am more interested in the general goings-on in society, and I feel like, for this election (maybe because it has more drama to it), I am more engaged. Maybe because it is reaching those social platforms where I spend a lot of my time online. I also think there’s a lot of emotion in this one, for many people, not only us sensitive Gen Z-ers. Our world has faced some pretty drastic changes and realizations in the last few years. From the COVID pandemic to the Black Live Matter movement and the Me Too movement, I think a lot of these topics will be important to those of us on the younger end of the polls this voting season.
Now, I must finish this up, as I’m heading over to the polling station, where I hope that my tiny, tiny, TINY piece of the collective voting puzzle will have an impact on the future of our country.