GEN Z: THE NEW CURSED GENERATION?
With an ongoing pandemic, an impending world war, unprecedented fuel price hikes, and a host of other seemingly endless unfortunate events, Millennials are having a tough time and things definitely aren’t looking good for Gen Z’s. Is our generation cursed? In this issue of The Feed, we asked selected individuals if they believe in the ‘Generational curse’ and “how hard is it to be a Gen Z Filipino during these times?”
Think year 2000 — What were the day’s most pressing issues? One would be hard pressed to come up with an instant reply. However, if that is asked today, one can easily give a litany of problems that the world is facing now – continuous destruction of the environment, an impending World War III, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, surging fuel prices, and grossly insufficient salaries and wages which barely cope with the steady increase in the inflation rate.
Many studies show that Gen Zs tend to be more self-aware and are easily influenced by the things happening around them — whether it be societal or not. These unique experiences influence Generation Zs’ empathy because living through these events and seeing their impact changes how they can understand and take the perspective of others. With that, let us take a look at some of the things that this generation had to go through in their early adulthood.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
In 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everyone’s way of living. At the onset of the pandemic, Filipinos found themselves in dire straits, especially due to the lack of information regarding the virus and lack of standard health protocols to curb its spread. It did not help that the government was seemingly unprepared and the fact that we are in a third-world country competing for limited vaccine supply made it worse. But looking back, the situation has improved and we are somehow optimistic that there is light at the end of the tunnel. One of the biggest challenges brought by the pandemic was that Filipino students were forced to adapt to new ways of learning. The impact of the pandemic not only affected their health but also disrupted their education. Students were robbed of life-long knowledge that can only be experienced and learned through face-to-face classes. Gen Zs’ can only hope to go back to “normal” education setting as soon as possible.
The War in Ukraine and how it affects the market
The Philippines, still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, is now being affected by the Russian-Ukraine war which has adversely affected the global market. The prices of basic commodities and petroleum products spiked at unprecedented rates and forecasts still predict it to increase even further. Millennials are the ones who really feel this impact, and they understand how increasing fuel prices take a bigger bite out of workers’ wages, which means workers bring less food to the table. Gen Zs on the other hand could just already sense a return to normalcy after cases of COVID-19 went down, only to be greeted by an impending world war which only further delays any stability in the world that they are living in.
The challenge of starting a career
While Millennials are already having a hard time saving up due to the surge in gas prices and commodities, older Gen Zs are facing career issues. A number of older Gen Zs, or youngest Millennials, were just finishing college when the pandemic hit. It’s a tough time to start a career. A huge number of companies were forced to layoff workers and close down due to bankruptcy. Hiring also seems hard since a lot of companies customarily hire people with more experience than fresh grads. Gen Zs probably feel like they are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. But is it because they are cursed?
Are we cursed?
Selected individuals were asked if they believe in a ‘generational curse’ and were asked their view on how hard is it to be a Gen Z Filipino at this time?”
Nicole Rile, 21 [San Beda University]: Personally, I do believe in “generational curse” I am part of the first batch to take the K-12 program, which I believe was ultimately a waste of time. The promised easier journey in college went to waste as the subjects that were taken in those additional two years in high school were not credited at the tertiary level. We even had to retake some of the classes we already took in senior high school. Furthermore, almost three years of my college life revolved around online classes due to the pandemic. And that fact hindered many of us. Young adults, especially those who started their college life during the pandemic, do not enjoy and do not know what it feels like to be a college student inside a campus. And what’s worst is that it feels like we are in a ticking time bomb. We don’t know if we are able to defuse it or just explode. We are expected to have more, to be better, and to be successful after we graduate. When in reality we are still trapped in 2020 worrying about whether to review or not for tomorrow’s quiz. But now, everything felt short, fast-paced and everything seemed to be a clouded journey.
Celine Labong, 22 [ Far Eastern University]: What’s happening right now or what our generation is experiencing is not an isolated case. Other generations have also experienced something similar to this — world war, plague, the great depression. In fact, we are actually luckier than the previous generations because as all of these are happening, we have the internet to keep us up to date with news and information and technology to try and solve or overcome these phenomena. Our generation is not cursed.
Remy Garcia, 21 [San Beda University]: Yes, I believe it to be true. Parents transfer all types of attributes to their offspring, from hair to physical attributes, and now recent studies show that they may also pass down the trauma of their own childhood. As part of Gen-Z, I can say that things like these are present – especially in households where older family members like grandparents and parents experienced abuse, violence, and addiction during their childhood days. Many youngsters, particularly on social media, always complain and open up about problems they experienced such as the pressure to be perfect, the pressure to follow in their parent’s footsteps, and so on. Growing up, I never really knew what intergenerational trauma presents. Now, social media has become a medium for this kind of awakening. To answer the question, “How difficult is it to be a gen-z?” I suppose it all boils down to the individual’s point of view. But, in my opinion, Generation Z is more hardworking and ambitious than prior generations, which makes things difficult. Generation Z is more worried than previous generations for a variety of reasons, including peer pressure. This causes tension, which can lead to psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression.
Based on the responses of selected individuals, it appears that ‘generational curse’ is not true but each generation has a number of important concerns to contend with. It just so happens that really difficult economic issues are overlapping at the same moment and are not yet recuperating.
Verily, dear Gen Zs, these difficult circumstances are only transitory, and we shall emerge stronger as a result of our struggle to get through these difficult times. Keep in mind that diamonds are formed under extreme pressure. In the future, we will be handed the reigns and take the lead in improving our world. Hopefully, our experience has made us wiser not to repeat the mistakes committed in the past and we will be more ready to take on bigger challenges in the future.
Cover art by Angelica Flores Juan