Every time I write a post that requires me to speculate, I always write a disclaimer at some point that makes clear I am not some psychic soothsayer who can see the future in any meaningful capacity. If I were, then the last PowerBall jackpot would’ve had a very different outcome.
Nobody knows the future. Nobody can possibly know, given how erratic we are as a species and a society. Seriously, who the hell could’ve predicted that fidget spinners would be a thing?
That said, I do think it’s a necessary mental exercise, of sorts, to speculate on certain elements of the future. By that, I don’t mean next week’s lotto numbers or who will win in Fantasy Football. I’m talking more in terms of the bigger picture.
I’ve speculated before on many elements of the future, from the prospects of a second sexual revolution to the sex lives of enhanced humans. In each of these speculations, I freely admit that I could be dead wrong and this will be no different because I’m about to speculate about a topic that’s much more immediate.
It doesn’t involve technology, brain implants, or whatever crazy venture that Elon Musk and Richard Branson are cooking up. It has to do with the next generation that will follow those constantly-texting, selfie-taking, latte-loving millennials that everyone loves whining about these days.
It will happen. It has already started happening. Millennials may be having less sex, but they’re still having sex. That means babies are being born. That means there will be another generation of people after the millennials start getting old, whiny, and cantankerous.
At the moment, this generation doesn’t have much of an identity. It barely has a name. Some call it Generation Z or the Cloud Generation. Since they’re so young and they haven’t been around long enough to do anything to earn them a more creative nickname, I’ll just go with calling them Generation Z.
It’s hard to know much about them, right now. Nobody even knows what sort of age range they belong in, but for the moment, Generation Z is primarily defined as the cohort of people born after 2001. They are basically the generation that has never been influenced by the 90s, dial-up internet, or the pre-terrorism days when you could still carry bottles of shampoo on a airplane.
They are also a generation born into a world where social media has matured, internet access is a necessity and not a luxury, and talking to devices that talk back is considered normal. They have some very unusual factors guiding them, many of which previous generations created and none of which they had any say in shaping.
It’s hard to know much about what defines this new generation, if only because they’re still teenagers who haven’t entered the workforce or started voting yet. That will change in the next few years. It won’t be long before the generation that those overly-connected, over-caffeinated millennial hipsters spawned starts to mature.
That still begs many questions to marketing departments, fashion magazines, and older people looking for a new batch of youth to whine about. What kind of people will Generation Z be? What sort of attitudes, tendencies, and mentalities will they embrace? Who will their leaders, heroes, and icons be?
These questions are still impossible to answer, but Generation Z is growing. I’ve already got a number of nephews and cousins, some of which are still in diapers, who will be part of this generation. I’m sure many reading this blog have family members who will be part of that generation as well.
Every generation has their share of challenges and quirks. Since I fall squarely in the age-range of the millennial crowd, I have some insight into those issues. That’s why I felt at least partially qualified when I wrote my article on the dark secrets of the millennial mind. I’m far less qualified to know the secrets of Generation Z, but I’m still going to try.
Make no mistake. Generation Z will have certain quirks that will annoy the hell out of millennials. They’ll probably end up annoying baby boomers and those of Generation X even more. I’m sure once they get old enough to start making a scene, there will be even more jokes about them than there are about millennials.
Until then, we can only speculate on the kinds of secrets that will shape Generation Z and all whining other generations will do about them. I’m not looking forward to so much whining, but I will still attempt to find a context for it.
With all that in mind, what follows is a list of the potential dark secrets that Generation Z will possess and how those secrets will annoy older people to no end. Again, I am woefully unqualified to make predictions about the future and there’s a very high chance that what I write will be dead wrong. Please keep that in mind before you start lamenting about the attitudes of your future children.
Potential Secret #1: They Will Be The Most Nihilistic Generation Of All Time
Every generations is, to some extent, a reaction of the previous generation and those that came before it. If one generation is upbeat, then the other is cynical. If one is uptight, then the other is rebellious. It’s not quite a cycle because the extent is always changing, but the dynamics are fairly common.
It’s because of those dynamics that Generation Z will very likely be the ultimate personification of nihilism. I’m not just talking the Friedrich Nietzsche style, existence-has-no-meaning type of mentality that inspired every goth band ever made. Generation Z will likely embrace a more passive form of nihilism.
Think about the outrage that previous generations have voiced on any number of issues. Baby Boomers voiced a lot of outrage about the Vietnam War. Generation X voiced outrage about outdated, corrupt traditions. Millennials voiced outrage about fake news, quasi-fascists, and poor wi-fi. Generation Z will be influenced by all of this and will respond with a resounding “meh.”
Here’s a scenario that should illustrate that sentiment.
Baby Boomers: “You kids are a bunch of self-entitled, narcissistic deviants who have no idea how good you have it! You ought to be ashamed!”
Millennials: “You kids are destroying the world! You’re empowering racists, fascists, sexists, homophobes with your actions and inactions! You ought to be ashamed!”
Generation Z: “Yeah, so what? In the long run, it really doesn’t matter.”
That’s the main crux of any debate for Generation Z. They’re born into a world where the sheer volume of media, information, and access is so big, so vast, and so overwhelming that they feel like tiny specks of sand within a digital ocean. Their perspective is one of inherent smallness.
Nothing they say will ever be loud enough for most people to hear. Nothing they do will be significant enough to stand out. Between that information and being the kids of highly-educated millennials, they will see just how small and pointless they are in a world so big and complex.
By the time Generation Z comes of age, there could be nearly 8 billion people on this planet, many with access to the same internet, social media feeds, and every kind of news source, fake or otherwise. They will feel so small in such a large global community that the passions of the millennials will feel pointless.
This will be what really frustrates other generations, especially the millennials. Generation Z will be born into the world of fake news and alternative facts, so much so that the meaning behind news, events, and controversies will be muted.
Generation Z will see beloved celebrities fall, corrupt politicians ascend, and cherished institutions crumble and just shrug their shoulders. They won’t be sad or depressed about it, though. They just won’t waste their energy on it because they see it as pointless in the grand scheme of things.
Potential Secret #2: They Will Be More Conservative (But Not In The Way You Think)
In the same way every generation seems to react to one another in terms of trends, political persuasions often adapt in accord with those trends. By that, I don’t mean they go from one extreme to another. The Baby Boomers were far more liberal than their predecessors, but compared to Generation X and millennials, they’re fairly conservative on a lot of issues.
At the moment, the majority of millennials identify as liberal, at least in the current context of the term. These attitudes will likely shape and influence the politics of Generation Z. They’re being born into a world where the idea of having a black man or a reality TV show host as president is not considered outrageous. As such, they’re going to be pretty numb to political extremes.
It’s for that reason that Generation Z will probably be a bit more conservative than their millennial parents or Generation X grandparents, but they’ll still disagree a great deal with Baby Boomers.
That’s because their kind of conservatism won’t be built on the overtly-religious, pro-business, let’s-trust-the-greedy-folks-running-the-free-market-to-sort-it-out ideology. It’ll be built more on the notion that all the liberal activism that millennials and the Generation X crowd took part in didn’t amount to much, especially compared to the Baby Boomers.
Generation Z will live in a world where they can watch old videos of presidential debates, TV pundits, and college protests and see just how much and how little they accomplished. Sure, they’ll probably be accepting of minorities and relatively lenient on social issues, but it’ll take a lot to get the Generation Z crowd to shake up the political and social norms of their time.
Part of this will likely be due to their inherent nihilism. Another part of this will be having seen their parents call everything a racist, sexist, anti-gay, anti-trans, fascist agenda. Once everything becomes an agenda, it just becomes more trouble than it’s worth and Generation Z won’t bother with that kind of activism. They’ll be too content and/or numb to profane politicians or ridiculous traditions.
Potential Secret #3: They Will Be Obsessed With Purpose Rather Than Passion
This may seem inconsistent with the overall sense of nihilism that I mentioned earlier, but it’s actually the other side of the same coin that may very well define Generation Z. This is the side that every marketing department, mass media company, and aspiring erotica/romance writers need to consider if they’re to appeal to this generation.
Whereas Baby Boomers were driven by rebellion and millennials were driven by passion, the Generation Z crowd will focus on finding something that gives them a sense of purpose. Things like passion, duty, or responsibility will be secondary at best. Those in Generation Z will be striving and struggling for purpose.
Some of that has less to do with nihilism and more to do with trends in the economy. With each passing year, more of our economy and daily lives is being automated. I’ve even talked about the possibilities before, but it’ll be more than a possibility for Generation Z. They’ll be living in it.
By the time my cousins and nephews are legal adults, they’ll be surrounded by virtual assistants who will shop for them and self-driving cars who will drive for them. They may not even live in a world where actual humans check out their groceries anymore.
So much will be automated and/or facilitated for them that they won’t have to toil anywhere nearly as much as previous generations. Working in a factory, a construction site, or even an art studio will be exceedingly rare for the folks of Generation Z. With so many tasks done for them and so little need to toil, what will they do with themselves?
It’s hard to know the specifics. Again, who the hell could’ve predicted the rise of fidget spinners? However, I suspect that those in Generation Z will dedicate most of their time and energy into finding that purpose, whatever it might be. Chances are, it’ll be something that makes millennials and Baby Boomers roll their eyes.
I imagine the lives of Generation Z will be filled with any number of absurd ideas of personal meaning. It may be a weird job, a strange hobby, or an odd new way of doing business. In any case, it won’t matter how absurd it is. So long as it gives them meaning, Generation Z will embrace it to the utmost.
Potential Secret #4: They Will Have No Concept Of Privacy (And Won’t Care)
This probably doesn’t count as much of a secret. We’re already seeing privacy, as we once knew it, erode with each passing year. Millennials took the technology that Generation X helped create and used it to tell the world damn near everything about them. Privacy, for them, might as well be a steam-powered train.
Those within Generation Z will likely continue this trend. It’s a trend that began long before their parents. When trends have roots that deep, they tend to continue. They don’t always manifest in the same way, though. With Generation Z, the lack of privacy will likely take on a distinct twist, compared to their parents.
As transparent as many are in the internet age, both Generation X and millennials still choose their words carefully. They helped create the climate of political correctness that is so easy to despise for its absurdities. Today, voicing any opinion, even if it occurred in private, can become a huge spectacle that costs people their livelihoods, their reputations, and in some cases their lives.
Generation Z will grow up in a world where that climate has caused too many people too much stress. Between that, and living in a world that’s so vast and overwhelming, they’ll probably be even more likely to share every little detail about their lives on the internet. Moreover, they won’t care how offensive or wrong it is to their parents or grandparents.
It’s probably going to appall the millennial generation the most. They’ll be the ones crying, “It’s [insert current year here]! How can you possibly still hold these opinions?” Those of Generation Z will just shrug their shoulders and say, “So what? What does it matter?”
I shudder to think just how detailed they’ll be when it comes to sharing their lives. I’m all for pretty girls sharing pictures of them in a bikini or parents showing adorable pictures of their babies. I’d rather not see more graphic pictures that include the contents of poopy diapers.
Potential Secret #5: They Will Be Emotionally Numbed (To A Point)
In a sense, millennials and the Generation X crowd will be the mad scientists that create the perfect monsters in Generation Z. They’re both defined by varying extremes of being overly passionate about too many things and not being passionate about damn near everything. Basically, they’ll be the children of Kurt Cobain and Taylor Swift.
As a result of those extremes, Generation Z will probably be the most emotionally numb generation to date, at least publicly. That’s not to say they’ll be a bunch of manikins with a pulse. They will still feel emotion. They won’t be entirely Vulcan in their mentality. They’ll just be more channeled with their emotions.
By that, I mean Generation Z will see their emotions as a precious resource that should be reserved for people and things that matter. They’ll have seen their parents get so emotional about all sorts of trivial crap, from who dies in “Game of Thrones” to what sort of political statements that Beyoncé made. They’ll notice how stressful and pointless that was and adapt accordingly.
That probably means that Generation Z will be very hard to market to, in terms of creating a consumer base. Remember, this is a generation that emphasizes purpose, but it doesn’t matter how absurd or inane that purpose is. It’s not enough to just evoke emotional responses with Generation Z. It has to be tied to a purpose.
Everything else outside that purpose, though, isn’t going to jar them in the slightest. They’ll already be living in a world where every emotionally-charged story and image is online, accessible, and blared to everyone with an internet connection. They’ll be fairly numb to the big stuff. They’ll reserve those emotions for the small stuff, the trees within the forest, that really gives their lives meaning.
I hope I haven’t scared everyone over the age of 30 too much. Again, and I’m sorry to belabor this, but these are just speculations on my part. I have no idea what sort of people Generation Z will spawn. Five years from now, this list may be obsolete and I’ll look like an idiot for writing something so wrong.
If you think I’m dead wrong and feel like you have something else to add to this list, please let me know in the comments. I’ll be happy to revise it, especially if it means looking less stupid down the line.
Wrong or not, this new generation is coming. We’re all going to have to live with them and find ways to appeal to them. That includes aspiring erotica/romance writers. So if you start noticing a shift in tone to my sexy novels, as if I’m trying to appeal to a new crowd, you’ll know why.