Tag Archives: Generation Y

Why “Adulting” Is Getting Harder

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I’ve stated before that there are certain words I believe should be purged from the English lexicon. Contrived, agenda-driven terms like “toxic masculinity” or “mansplaining” are at the top of my list. I strongly believe that terminology like that is doing everything to further hostility and hinder understanding.

That being said, there are a few words that I have mixed feelings about. I think they also do plenty to divide people for all the wrong reasons, but I also understand why they exist. One term that I feel is increasingly relevant, albeit for negative reasons, is the concept of “adulting.”

I put that term in quotes for a reason, but it’s not out of sarcasm or scorn. This is one of those words that exists because there’s a need for it. Even if you think “adulting” sounds silly, chances are a word every bit as silly, if not more so, would’ve been coined. That’s because what it means to be a functioning adult is changing and not in a way that makes things easier.

This sentiment is implied in the popular definition. Even though it’s a fairly new term, it has become relevant enough to warrant a listing in the Oxford Dictionary, which defines it as follows:

The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.

It may seem too simple to warrant scrutiny and maybe that was right several decades ago. However, a lot has changed in the past 30 years. A lot has changed in the past 10 years. The world isn’t as simple as it used to be. It’s become incredibly complex, full of fake news, alternative facts, and contrived outrage. That has changed what it means to be an adult.

I know this will elicit plenty of groans from certain crowds, but I’ll say it anyways. Being an adult is hard these days. Yes, I’m aware that it’s supposed to be hard to some extent. It always has been, going back to the hunter/gatherer days. Being an adult means functioning on your own and contributing to your society. You can no longer rely on parents or elders to provide for you. You must now do the providing.

It’s a challenge for many, some more so than others. However, there are some unique challenges facing adults today, especially among the younger crowds. I know this because I’m one of them. I’ve discussed the distressing issues surrounding Millennials and the potential issues that Generation Z will face in the coming years. Many of those issues, though, will affect everyone of any generation.

I’m not just referring to the crippling student loan debts that are burdening Millennials or the rising cost of housing in urban areas. There are deeper, more fundamental struggles that hinder or even discourage our ability to embrace adulthood. You want to know why nostalgia is so popular or why escapism is so prominent in media? Well, the complications and frequent frustrations that come with “adulting” are huge factors.

To understand, here’s a list of a few reasons why “adulting” is a thing and why just being an adult is getting harder. Hopefully, it’ll help make sense of this annoying, but relevant term. You’ll still probably roll your eyes whenever someone claims they cannot “adult” anymore for the day. If nothing else, this will help you understand where they’re coming from.


Too Much Information Is Overwhelming Us (And Making Us Mentally Ill)

This isn’t just a Millennial thing. It’s not even a byproduct of social media. The trend of people just getting more and more information has been happening for decades as people moved further and further away from rural, agrarian communities. Today, more people are educated now than at any point in human history. That has many benefits, but it comes at a cost.

Now, we can’t just see what’s going on in our world through pictures and streaming media. We can read about things, learn about them, and scrutinize them. That’s helpful in some instances, but in a world that’s increasingly connected and full of conflicting information, it can be overwhelming.

On top of that, we tend to find out about bad news and horrific atrocities as they’re unfolding. Many people alive today actually saw the horrors of the September 11th attacks occur on live TV. More recently, people were able to follow the horrors of the Parkland shooting as it unfolded on social media.

Being informed is part of being an adult, but when you’re informed of every horrific thing that happens in the world, it can wear on you. Some research has shown that this sort of system is impacting peoples’ mental health. In that context, it makes sense for someone to want to step back from that part of adulting.

For most of human history, we didn’t know or care about the horrors going on outside our tiny community. In the past 30 years, we know everything that’s going on everywhere. The human mind is good at a lot of things. Making sense of that much information isn’t one of them.


Our Options Feel Increasingly Limited (And We Don’t Know Which To Follow)

Growing up, every adult told me the path to success was simple. If you just stayed in school, got good grades, went to a decent college, and got a bachelor’s degree, then you were set. You could expect to find a good job with decent pay that would allow you to build a comfortable living for yourself and your future family. I believed in that path. I followed it. I can safely say it was half-true at best.

While there is plenty of merit to a college education, it’s no longer the clear-cut path it once was. I personally know people who graduated from good schools with quality degrees in subjects like engineering and they’re struggling. It’s not that people are getting useless degrees in underwater basket weaving. It’s that just getting a degree is no longer sufficient.

After graduating from college, I was in this daze for a while and many of my fellow graduates were the same. We were all told that getting this degree would set us on the right path, but nobody told us how to navigate that path or what it even looked like. As a result, most people ended up in jobs that had nothing to do with their college major.

On top of that, the job market is becoming increasingly unstable. The rise of the gig economy is making it so people don’t just live paycheck to paycheck. They live job to job, never knowing if they’ll even have one when they wake up the next day. These are not the same well-paying, blue collar factory jobs of the past. This is work that will not help pay a mortgage or a student loan debt.

However, we’re still told that this is the path. This is how we’ll prosper in the future. Even as we look for other options, most adults today don’t know how viable they are. We’re left in a state of uncertainty that past adults never had to deal with. We still need to choose, though, because our bills aren’t going to pay themselves.


There’s No Margin For Error And Every Mistake Will Follow You Forever

Remember when it was possible to make a dirty, offensive joke among friends and not worry about it haunting you for the rest of your life? I’m not being old or cantankerous. I’m serious because I do remember when that was possible. In my youth, I heard plenty of jokes that would’ve ruined someone’s life today if they’d been captured on video or posted on social media.

This isn’t just about political correctness or identity politics corrupting discourse. Adults today live in a world where any mistake they make, be it a bad joke or an off-hand comment, can come back to haunt them. It doesn’t matter if it’s from a celebrity or even if it occurs in private. It can still cost you dearly.

Now, I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I have to since I’m posting this on the internet. None of what I’m saying is implying that certain behavior, language, or comments are justified. I think it’s a good thing, for the most part, that certain people are paying a price for their bigoted attitudes. However, that good does come at a cost and it’s felt by adults at every level.

To some extent, we envy kids now because kids can say dumb things and get away with it. They’re kids. They have an excuse and it’s one of the few excuses most people accept these days. If you’re an adult, though, you’ve got nothing of the sort. You can blame liberals, conservatives, or Ambien all you want. You’re still going to pay a price.

As adults, we’re responsible for what we say and do. That’s part of what it means to be an adult. The problem is that in a world where every mistake is documented and preserved forever, our margin for error is exceedingly small. How many people don’t get the job they want because of an embarrassing photo or tweet they made a decade ago? How many people get fired because of it?

Regardless of how justified it may or may not be, it adds further stress to the inherently-stressful responsibilities that come with being an adult. The adults of today have many complications to deal with and if you mess even one up, then it could haunt you to the day you die. Now, do you understand why so many adults seem so uptight about adulting?


We Feel Like We Cannot Escape (And Badly Need To)

Life has always carried harsh burdens. Whether it was escaping wars or fighting disease, people of every generation in every period have sought out some reprieve from the endless struggle. Sometimes, it takes the form of games, drugs, books, or sports. After a long day of working the fields or gathering food, we needed some form of reprieve.

It’s as important today as it was in previous centuries. The big difference today is that we feel like we have fewer and fewer opportunities to do so. Life on farms and fields was rough, but at least the challenges were clear and laid out. We worked to survive. If we survived, we celebrated. It was simple.

Today, surviving just isn’t enough. We have bills to pay, debts to service, jobs to find, and connections to make. On top of that, we have to keep up with the news and popular trends. We have to fit into an increasingly diverse world where people of different communities and cultures are connected. It’s a lot of work, taking time and energy that go beyond plowing a field.

It doesn’t help that the abundance of information and the prominence of bad news makes the future seem so bleak. Even if society is progressing on almost every measurable level, our perceptions imply that the world outside our windows is dangerous, hostile, and hopeless. We can’t do anything about it, our politicians are inept, and our votes don’t even count.

In those frustrating circumstances, it makes sense for people to lose themselves in video games, movies, and TV shows. The whole concept of binge-watching allows adults to lose themselves in hours of content, which subsequently allows them to detach from a harsh reality that they have no hope of effecting.

Say what you want about adults who still love comic books and video games. The fact that they’re both multi-billion dollar industries is a sign that many are desperate for an escape from the frustrations of their adult lives. The things we loved as kids are just the easiest and most familiar paths.


There are plenty of other reasons I could list about “adulting” and why it’s getting increasingly difficult. I have a feeling that many adults reading this have their own sets of reasons and there will probably be more within the coming years. There will also be others who complain about anyone who tries to talk about those reasons. It’s sure to evoke more frustration and whining.

In the end, we all have to be adults at some point. There’s a time and a place to just step back from it all and take a breath. That shouldn’t be controversial, but the fact that “adulting” is now a thing means there are a lot of complications to adult life and we’re not doing a good enough job handling them.

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Filed under human nature, outrage culture, philosophy, psychology

Generation Z, The March For Our Lives, And The Nihilism Turning Point

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Last year, I wrote a couple of posts about the mentality of Millennials and the possible quirks they may inspire in Generation Z, which are just starting to emerge. While I’m neither the spokesperson for Millennials, nor am I an expert on the generation they’re creating. Being a Millennial myself, though, I like to think I have more insight than most. I’ve watched their story play out and I’ve even lived part of it.

However, this particular topic isn’t about Millennials. This is about the emerging generation after them, Generation Z. While Millennials are still subject to any number of trends and criticisms, Generation Z hasn’t had much time to establish themselves or have a defining moment. That may be changing in wake of the Parkland shooting.

To understand why, it’s important to provide a bit of context about Generation Z. First and foremost, we need to identify just who they are, relative to Millennials, Generation X, and the Baby Boomers. While there’s no official cut-off point, most reputable sources identify anyone born after the year 2000 as members of Generation Z.

Those who lived through the Parkland shooting are mostly in their mid-to-late teens so they fit into this category. That matters a great deal because it’s happening at a point where Generation Z is on the cusp of adulthood. To understand why that matters, it’s important to note the context of this generation.

These kids, and they are still kids for the most part, were born into a world where they didn’t witness the horrors of Columbine or the experience the collective trauma of the September 11th attacks. Generation Z has always lived in a world where school shootings are a thing and the War on Terror has always been ongoing.

Beyond that, they’re also a generation that has been even more well-connected than their Millennial predecessors. Most never had to endure the hardships of dial-up internet or cell phones that did not have a camera. Their entire lives have been connected, so to speak. That’s part of what has fueled their reaction to the Parkland shooting.

The kids in Generation Z have been watching all their lives as horrible mass shootings from Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Las Vegas happen with distressing regularity. At the same time, they’ve watched as efforts by Millennials, Generation X, and the Baby Boomers amount to very little change. The fact that the internet and social media documents all these failures leaves quite an impression.

Being young, idealistic, and not totally jaded, the members of Generation Z are finally at an age where they have a chance to make an effort of their own. They’re still not old enough to drink or vote in many instances, but they’re now in a position to make their voices heard. That was the idea behind the March For Our Lives that occurred last week.

It marks a potentially defining moment for Generation Z, one that may have far-reaching consequences for years to come. They’ve seen how many have tried and failed to use the horrors of mass shootings to promote gun control reforms. They’re also informed and educated enough to know how egregious the gun violence disparity is in the United States compared to other developed countries.

While I applaud the passion of these remarkable young people, I also worry that this event may become a turning point, of sorts. By that, I mean these noble and sincere efforts of these kids could be the catalyst that instills a sense of nihilism that may very well define their generation.

This is something I speculated on when I made my predictions on the collective mindset of Generation Z last year, going so far as to identify Rick Sanchez from “Rick And Morty” as their first icon. I stated that Generation Z would likely be the most nihilistic generation of all time. Now, the success or failure of the March For Our Lives could be the turning point that cements that nihilism within Generation Z.

As I said before, it won’t be the same kind of nihilism we associate with the Friedrich Nietzsches of the world. It’s the kind of nihilism that is the byproduct of being surrounded by so much information and seeing how little it truly matters in the long run.

Like Millennials, Generation Z is very educated. They’ve grown up in a world where they have access to nearly all the world’s relevant information through their smartphones. They’re smart enough and tech-savvy enough to see world events unfolding before their eyes. They’re also informed enough to know how hard it is for any event to make for meaningful change.

Now, here they are, having experienced one of their first traumas as an up-and-coming generation. They’ve seen all those terrible mass shootings inspire nothing but empty thoughts and prayers. They feel inspired enough and bold enough to make an effort, hoping they’ll succeed where so many others have failed.

While many are rooting for them, the odds are stacked against them. Even major news outlets are starting to spoil the outcome, applauding the kids while brushing off their ideals as youthful day-dreaming. I don’t think they realize just what kind of impression they’ll have on their generation as a whole.

Let’s say, for a moment, that the most likely scenario happens and the March For Our Lives leads to no meaningful change in gun control laws or in efforts to curb mass shootings. What kind of message does that send to the survivors of Parkland and the entire generation emerging behind it?

Firstly, it establishes that their lives, their pain, and their ideals don’t matter. It doesn’t matter how passionate they are. It doesn’t matter how traumatized they are. What they went through and how they reacted in response doesn’t matter. In such a crowded, diverse, and complicated world, their lives are trivial.

That’s almost a textbook definition of existential nihilism. Their hopes, their dreams, and their very place in the universe is insignificant. It wouldn’t have mattered if ten times more kids died at Parkland. It still wouldn’t have changed anything. There would still be no gun control. There would still be more mass shootings. All that time, effort, energy, and pain amounted to nothing.

In previous generations, it was almost beneficial to live in a world that wasn’t so connected. They could see horrible events on the news, but find a way to compartmentalize it in their minds so they could go on with their lives. With Generation Z, being so connected and informed, that’s just not feasible anymore.

They don’t just see that their efforts at Parkland were meaningless. They also see how many other mass shootings have occurred throughout history and how utterly inane such violence is in the grand scheme of things. In a sense, their ability to connect and inform themselves could render them numb to any greater sense of purpose.

That’s not to say that the kids behind March For Our Lives or the whole of Generation Z will be a bunch of dispassionate, misanthropic naysayers who are so emotionally flat that they don’t respond to stories of human suffering anymore. It just means that they’ll be a lot more calculated with their perspective.

Keep in mind, a world of regular school shootings and a never-ending war on terrorism is not some major upheaval to Generation Z. That’s their concept of normal. They’ve always lived in a world where terror attacks can happen at any time, when mass shootings can happen just as frequently, and no meaningful change ever comes of it.

For them, all the yelling, protesting, and outrage that generations of the past have voiced will just seem like background noise. If all the suffering and trauma led to nothing, then why should they bother? That may very well be a question that the Parkland survivors start asking themselves after the March For Our Lives accomplishes nothing.

Now, that’s not to say Generation Z won’t react differently. That’s not even to say that the March For Our Lives won’t accomplish something meaningful in the end. It’s impossible to predict major trends that go onto define an entire generation, but it’s still possible to note the vulnerabilities.

For Generation Z, nihilism might end up being less a reaction and more a necessity. They’re coming into a world where all the news is fake, facts battle alternative facts, and dead kids only evoke empty thoughts and prayers. Once this fact settles in, it’ll be interesting to see how they seek to define themselves moving forward.

Being the optimist I am, I believe that the kind of nihilism that Generation Z embraces could help inoculate them from some of the detrimental effects of identity politics, fake news, and outrage culture. I think that’s critical, given how these forces have corrupted debates and empowered professional trolls.

In any case, Generation Z faces an uphill battle in an effort to set themselves apart from their Millennial peers. A greater sense of nihilism may make them difficult to deal, but that’s exactly what will help define them as they seek purpose within a seemingly purposeless world.

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The (Possible) Secrets Of Generation Z (And Why We’ll Be Appalled By Them)

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.

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Filed under Current Events, gender issues, Second Sexual Revolution, Sexy Future

The (Dark) Secrets Of The Millennial Mind

In recent years, it’s become a popular past-time to hate millennials and anything associated with them. Browse any non-pornographic part of the web for more than five minutes and you’re bound to find some angry anti-millennial rant about how their hashtags, safe spaces, and compulsive need to take selfies is ruining the planet.

I tend to roll my eyes at those articles, just as I tend to roll my eyes at any rant that bashes a particular generation. I’ve read enough random crap and talked to enough bitter old people to know that every generation bashes the other to some extent.

The World War II generation whined about all the hippie types in the Baby Boomer generation. Those same Baby Boomers whined about the brooding, selfish, cynical, I-don’t-care-and-I-don’t-need-anybody attitudes of Generation X. In many respects, the millennials are just next in line. It was bound to happen because it’ll always happen, for as long as old people complain about young people.

Never mind the fact that the millennial generation is the most education generation of all time. Never mind the fact that the millennial generation is the most diverse generation of all time and are coming into a world with the lowest crime rates in modern history. Let’s also not forget that, unlike any other generation before it, millennials are the first generation to have unlimited, near-universal access to information.

No matter what type of world the millennials inherit, or what sort of advantages they have, older generations will find a reason to complain about them. It’s not so much that young people actively rebel against old people, as we see in one too many teen movies. It’s more the fact that they’re young and old people are older. I know that sounds inane, but that’s usually the heart of the issue.

Young people don’t have the same life experiences as old people. They can’t understand their perspectives because they haven’t lived them. Their world, and how they see it, is just so different and that frustrates older people because they can’t relate to it. Some will try, but successes will be limited, at best. As such, every generation is going to seem strange, deviant, and/or frustrating to one another.

I’ve certainly experienced this myself, at times. I think everyone has to some degree. They’re young, they talk to an older person, and that older person tells them all about how much better their generation was. They overcame so much more and did it without the aid of smartphones. Somehow, that makes them inherently better and then they wonder why young people tune them out.

In general, I try not to have those kinds of arguments because they’re pointless. As someone who falls in age range of a millennial, I know there’s nothing I can say or do to convince an older person that my generation is as good or better than theirs. That’s not not an argument anyone can win. It’s also pointless, in the grand scheme of things.

However, I do feel as though the millennial-bashing has gotten out of hand in recent years. It’s not so much that older people are complaining about millennials constantly texting on their phones. It’s more a matter of them conducting themselves in such a strange, erratic way that neither Baby Boomers or Generation X can make sense of.

Anyone who has worked with millennials knows this first-hand. This new crop of young adults are incessantly needy, easily offended, and overly emotional about trivial issues. They are the kinds of people that John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, and Madonna would’ve made fun of at every turn.

Now, I’m not going to try and dispel every myth and stereotype of the millennial crowd. Again, that’s not an argument anyone can win. Since I am a millennial, though, and I’ve worked with many my age, I feel like I can offer some context to the general weirdness of my kind.

I have to warn you, though, that context has some dark undertones. Even other millennials don’t always understand it. In a sense, there are some distressingly subversive forces that inspired many of those annoying stereotypes that other generations despise. Some of them have a basis in events that took place long before their time. Some have a basis in simple human nature.

Whatever the case, the mind of a millennial isn’t all hash-tags and cat videos. It’s actually governed by some pretty dark forces that older generations don’t even try to understand. While I doubt this will earn millennials sympathy from Baby Boomers or the Generation X crowd, I hope it provides some critical insight.

With all that said, here are five dark secrets of the millennial generation. These aren’t necessarily guarded secrets, but they are very much a factor in how they see the world. If you know or work with millennials, I sincerely hope this fosters a greater understanding.


Secret #1: We Are Paralyzed With Uncertainty

This is the first and most critical secret that every generation, including millennials themselves, need to acknowledge. It will help make sense of so many of the weird, annoying things they do, albeit for less-than-flattering reasons.

If you’re wondering why uncertainty is such a big deal to us, then stop for a moment and think about how much or how little you knew about the world in your youth. Before the age of computers and smart phones, your world was small. Everything you knew and needed to know could fit in your street, your city block, or your farm. The only uncertainty you dealt with was what you would have for dinner.

For millennials, the world is much bigger and much more accessible. They are connected, plugged in, and in tuned with mind-bogglingly huge amounts of information, from news to personal insights. On top of that, and this is worth repeating, they are the most educated generation of all time.

While that’s great for trivia games, it does have a major side-effect. As a result of so much education, millennials are basically walking examples of a Socratic Paradox. The more they know, the more they realize they don’t know. It’s a byproduct of learning more than what your limited brain can handle.

I’ve felt this first-hand. Just getting into something like superhero comics is daunting when you start to learn how vast and convoluted their history is. That’s just comics, though. Apply this to the world, as a whole, and millennials are utterly paralyzed by knowing so much and realizing how much more they need to know.

That’s why it’s not uncommon to hear millennials constantly asking for clarification, certainty, or reassurance. They think they know, but they don’t know for sure. With so much information, as well as growing trends in “alternative facts,” it’s almost impossible to be totally certain of all the information at a millennial’s disposal.

Keep that in mind next time a young person is constantly checking their phone. It’s not that they’re detached or inconsiderate. They’re just plagued by uncertainty of not knowing what’s going on, what’s happening with their friends, and how everyone is reacting to them. All that uncertainty kind of requires them to be plugged in all the time and it can be exceedingly stressful, among other things.


Secret #2: We Have (Extreme) Trust Issues

This feeds directly off the crippling uncertainty that millennials deal with. It’s not just a by-product. It’s an inescapable obstacle that comes with being educated, informed, and connected.

Millennials have serious trust issues. I’m not talking about the kind of paranoid, conspiracy theory, the-CIA-put-a-chip-in-my-brain type trust issues either. The extreme trust issues that millennials have is more subtle and, in many ways, a side-effect of trends that began in previous generations.

It was the Baby Boomers and Generation X that began rebelling against authority. They were the ones that started youth protests, giving the finger to authority, and brooding with unending cynicism. They helped exposed leaders and icons as hypocrites, crooks, and frauds.

They exposed multiple presidents as liars. They exposed celebrities as monsters. They exposed the corruption of once-cherished institutions. While all that might have been important with respect to pursuing justice, it also created a world where millennials cannot or are very reluctant to trust anyone.

Thanks to all the information at a millennial’s disposal, they can find out that great figures of history were also racist slave-owners. They can find out that beloved scientists and inventors were bullies. They can find out that the celebrities they love are real assholes. In essence, they can’t trust anyone to be true or genuine.

You want to know why superhero movies have become so huge with millennials? Well, that’s because they have no real-life heroes anymore. They’ve all been destroyed or discredited. They’re basically stuck with fictional heroes. That’s all they have left.

Beyond a lack of heroes and leaders who aren’t total frauds, millennials are so flooded with information that they have a hard time trusting the source. Everything seems biased. Everyone has an agenda. There’s fake news everywhere and nobody seems to know what the hell is going on, which I’ve noted out before.

So when you’re dealing with a millennial and they seem detached, that’s part of the reason. It’s also why they seem misinformed and misguided. They don’t know what or who to trust because every generation before them has given them way too many reasons not to. Add unlimited access to abundant information, fake and real, and how can anyone expect them to trust anything?


Secret #3: We Are Drowning In Debt (That We Can’t Escape)

This is one of those quirky issues that does get reported fairly regularly, but not everyone truly grasps the implications. It’s an undeniable fact that millennials are the most indebted generation of all time. A lot of that has to do with the growth of student loan debt, which recently surpassed credit card debt. There are all sorts of factors that led to this growth, but I want to focus on the effects for this.

Now I’ve seen some Baby Boomers and Generation X people roll their eyes at this issue, claiming that young people are stupid for taking out so much debt, just to get a useless college degree in underwater basket weaving. When most millennials hear that, though, assume they’re gritting their teeth to hold back their blinding rage.

That’s because a huge consortium of parents, guidance counselors, and raunchy movies have glorified college as this important next step that ever young person needs to take after high school. If you don’t take it, then something must be wrong with you. You must be stupid, lazy, or unambitious.

Since so many young people now feel inclined to go to college, that drives up demand. When anything is in that much demand, it gets more expensive. That’s just basic economics.

As a result, millennials have no choice but to take out student loans to go to college, just like the older people said they should. Then, those same people give them crap for taking out so many loans in the first place.

Beyond the frustration, those debt loads can be downright debilitating. When I was in college, I had a friend who had around $120,000 in student loan debt. In years past, that wasn’t a student loan. That was a goddamn mortgage. That means there are entire generations of people coming out of college who basically have to pay the price of a house without being able to live in it.

On top of that, millennials still get crap for having to live with their parents. They are in multiple no-win situations, both in terms of stigma and their overall futures. Unlike most other forms of debt, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. A millennial is stuck with it, no matter what they do.

If that weren’t enough, and it’s already too much, the job prospects for anyone without a college degree are abysmal. If you don’t have a college degree, then your ability to get a job that keeps you out of poverty is very low. Sure, you can point out that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates didn’t go to college all you want, but they never had to pay off a goddamn mortgage before they were 25.


Secret #4: We Have No Margin For Error (Or Offense)

A lot has been made about how easily offended millennials are. That’s how the term, snowflake, actually became an insult. Now, I don’t deny that young people take political correctness way too far. I’ve even talked about it a few times on my blog. However, like most things, there is a context and it’s kind of dark.

A big part of the millennial desire to not offend anybody comes from the self-esteem movement that began before they left the womb. An entire generation has been conditioned to have a bloated sense of confidence in a world where they can’t trust anyone, are constantly uncertain about everything, and have huge debts to pay. Naturally, that’s going to cause some inner conflict.

It’s not just that millennials hate bullies, racists, sexists, and bigots. For one, millennials are a far more diverse cohort than their predecessors, thanks largely to the efforts of previous generations. They have to be a bit more sensitive and understanding to others who are different because there are so many different perspectives to consider now. Millennials have to temper their sensibilities in order to get along.

Beyond that, and this is where it gets dark, the consequences of screwing up are enormous. Entire lives have been ruined by one off-hand tweet. A single off-hand comment has ruined reputations. In a generation that’s plugged in and connected all the time, nothing you say or do goes without scrutiny. You can’t have any private sentiments. If you do and they’re somewhat problematic, then you’re in trouble.

It’s another reason why millennials are so obsessed with their online life and how people perceive them. They live in a world where one text, one tweet, or one offensive image that they shared on social media can destroy their reputation, their friends, and their livelihood.

People get fired for offending others. Peoples’ lives are ruined, both financially and socially. When you’re young and you have a massive amount of student debt to pay off, you have to walk on egg-shells every day because if you mess up, there’s little recourse. Once something happens and it’s documented on the internet, it’s there forever.

Millennials didn’t create the world that made such hypersensitivity necessary. They also didn’t create the technology that they obsess over either. They were just born into a perfect storm, of sorts. If they dare rock the boat in any direction, then they’re tossed overboard without a life preserver.

Remember this next time a millennial obsesses over offending or not offending someone. It’s not just out of hypersensitivity. It’s basic survival. Older generations who have already carved a place for themselves can afford to be offended, literally in some cases. Millennials don’t have that luxury.


Secret #5: We (Have To) Rely On Our Passion

With every new generation comes new circumstances and with those circumstances comes a need to adapt. The Baby Boomers had to adapt to the generation that won Wolrd War II. Generation X had to adapt to the generation that protested Vietnam. The way they adapted shaped a great deal of their culture and identity. With millennials, it’s no different.

With the other secrets, I’ve described a pretty rough set of circumstances for millennials to adapt to. They’re uncertain, can’t trust anyone, drowning in debt, and living in constant terror of offending someone in a way that will ruin their lives. How can anyone adapt to that?

Well, human beings are nothing if not adaptable. It’s one of our most defining traits. With millennials, the options are limited, but they’ve made the most of them by becoming a very impassioned, very vocal generation. Whereas the Baby Boomers had their rebellious streak and Generation X had their cynicism, millennials have their passions to guide them.

By that, I mean the millennial crowd will put a lot of passion into whatever they do, be it protesting pronouns or posting videos of their cat. Due to debt, uncertainty, and trust issues, there are a lot of boxes they need to check before they commit to something. That’s part of why millennials aren’t getting married and why they’re having less sex. They can’t afford to be too casual, literally in some cases. There needs to be passion.

That’s why millennials will make a big deal about making whatever job or hobby they enjoy having some sort of passionate undertone. It’s how they can fill the many gaps left by so much uncertainty and such limited trust. It’s also how they can justify working a job that they know probably won’t help them pay off that massive debt they have. Without that passion, why would they bother?

The most tragic part of that element is that having such passion is really the only option millennials have in some cases. It’s a big part of why they’ll make such a big deal about certain issues that seem trivial to older generations. The older crowd has options. Millennials don’t.

Having passion, and a lot of it, is a big part of how they drive themselves. Sure, they can get annoying about it. I’ve lost track of how many overly passionate arguments about Wonder Woman’s costume I’ve heard on comic book message boards. When that’s all you really have, though, then that’s what’ll drive you.


While I doubt this will make millennials seem less annoying to older generations, I hope it provides some insight into what makes this generation tick. I don’t claim for a second that these insights are definitive. Millennials, like every generation that came before it, are a diverse group of people full of many variations, some more annoying than others.

However, this is their situation. This is how the world is shaping them. It’s a never-ending struggle, one that’s sure to plague the next generation just as much. I’m sure millennials will find an entirely different set of excuses to whine about that generation. I don’t doubt those excuses will be every bit as petty. I just hope I can sell enough of my novels by then to not care.

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Filed under Current Events, gender issues, Jack Fisher's Insights