Optimist vs. Pessimist

by August Kissel and Julia Skeval
Co-Editor in Chief

It’s no secret that today’s teenagers are living in a vastly different world from the one their parents grew up in. Because of this, it leaves high schoolers like ourselves feeling misunderstood and often stereotyped as lazy, unproductive pessimists.

 

We’re a generation constantly fighting against pre-conceived notions.

 

Generation Z. We have a name and we are not what everyone thinks we are.

 

Generation Z’s age bracket is up for deliberation. But what most experts can agree on is its first members were born in 1995. What separates us from older Millennials is that they supposedly remember a world pre-internet and we don’t. However this is not necessarily the case. Speaking personally, we have memories from before everyone used cell phones. We remember having to use phone books to call our friends. Contrary to popular belief, we acknowledge that there was a world before global interconnectedness and for even just a few years, we were active members in it.

 

Most members of our generation have access to a world of knowledge at their fingertips. This has spurred a cultural revolution. We use Twitter to find out the news, and Instagram to share digital snip-its of our lives. We have friends on the Internet we’ve never met in person. Because of all of this we are hyper-aware of the world around us and we are much more active in every aspect of our lives.

 

We see everything; all of the problems that the world is facing. We watched on phones for more details after the attacks in Brussels and Paris, we can scrutinize every detail of the current presidential campaign, and we watch global warming take it’s course on our environment through time-lapse videos and live-streamed conferences.

 

Because of all of this, our lifestyle and culture is very different from our parents and even those just 10 years older. We admit our values and the things we’re passionate about stray from the generations before us.

 

The people who raised most of us grew up in a society that focused on the importance of family and security. But now, with the entire world at our fingertips, Generation Z is composed of anything but homebodies. We’re excited about breaking boundaries, testing limits and chasing lives we’ll be proud of.

 

Yet for some reason, it’s so difficult for previous generations to see this. When they think about us in general, all that comes to mind are these stereotpyes that we’re all attached to our phone screens, afraid of face-to-face conversation, and just a bunch of unmotivated individuals expecting to make a life out of start-up business ventures and living in our parents’ basements.

 

If this was the kind of mentality that surrounded you on a daily basis, do you think you’d be very optimistic about your future?

 

Senior Afua Addo says that with all of the dangers in our worlds, “it’s hard to be optimistic (about our futures) but we’re not quite pessimistic.” Generation Z, as a whole, likes to believe life is what we make of it and anything is possible if we put our minds to it. But there’s still some sense of logic behind these ideas; we understand that there’s a chance of failure.

 

We never asked to be brought into a world so technologically advanced but because we were, we couldn’t help but become fluent in it all. When we explain to our parents how to use a certain app on their iPhones or download a Chrome extension for their laptops, they assume we only know because we’re addicted to these devices. But rejecting the new technology as it was rolled out throughout our youth would have been like rejecting electricity when it was introduced into homes in the 1920’s.

 

Sometimes we do miss calling our friends on the landline to talk about our days. Roadtrips used to be filled with chatter and games like “I Spy” whereas now each passenger has headphones on and their heads down. Waiting for rides after practice is now just a mob of athletes looking at their phones.

 

Our generation believes in moving forward towards a bright future and overcoming the adversities and social issues that stand in our way. So call us pessimists, view us as optimists. Neither would be accurate but either could be applicable at various moments in time.


We may not have a true defining character until long after Generation Z is replaced by the next one, rumored to be called Generation Alpha. But despite our lingering reputation, we’re excited, driven and pumped for what we can make of our lives.