Gen Z - I want to hear from you!

Happy Friday monkeys! I've been thinking more and more about the future of this country and while my generation (millenials) will definitely be a part of it, Gen Z is entering the workforce in big numbers. The first people to be born after 9/11 will be graduating college in just a couple of years and are likely part of the WSO population looking for internships and how to get ahead.

This thread is not about shitting on other generations, people have a bad habit of that, saying millenials all live in parents' basements, boomers are this or that, and Gen Z only exist online, are overly woke/triggered/anxious, whatever, but I don't buy that full stop.

So I'm asking you - what's it like to be Gen Z?

What differences do you notice between yourselves and other generations?

What do people get wrong about you and your peers?

How do you spend your free time?

What are you worried about?

What are you optimistic about?

What are you being taught in school that maybe prior generations weren't? I'm specifically thinking about cultural, technology, and financial things, though others could be interesting.

So please, share! I know your opinions will vary, I wanna hear em all.

Comments (100)

 
Funniest
Jan 29, 2021 - 1:55pm

thebrofessor

The first people to be born after 9/11 will be graduating college in just a couple of years

oh my God

"Son, life is hard. But it's harder if you're stupid." - my dad
  • 8
 
Controversial
  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Jan 29, 2021 - 2:40pm

I am on the older side of GenZ (~2000). Personally, I feel that there is a ton of identity confusion. The "younger" GenZ generation is even more in tune with social media and trends than we are. On TikTok and other social media, they are "canceling" the early 2000s kids. Tbh it makes me feel old even tho I'm not even 20 yet. I also feel that many of the previous generations do not take us seriously because we are "self-centered" and "don't do anything all day." Yes, I think it is true that we are more in tune with ourselves but I think that is also necessary because of the sheer amount of information (both useful and trash) that we grew up with. There is a huge generational gap that is growing and worsening where our parents/older generations "don't understand us." This goes beyond just curfews or other household rules. It's comments like "why are you always on your phone/computer" or social media/internet related things that are "essential" to GenZ. I can't remember life without a smart phone or a laptop and frankly probably wouldn't really know how to function without it (which is bizarre to our parents). 

 

However, there are things that I appreciate about being GenZ. There is so much emphasis on issues such as equality (gender, sex, etc.), climate change, ESG/corporate responsibility, mental health, etc. I believe that we grew up with the internet, our voices have the potential to be louder and more impactful than any other generation before. Think of Reddit's WSB or TikTok. Sure, individually we "don't know much," in fact I'm positive most of us don't have a single clue of how to file our taxes or how to change a tire, but we have the capacity to fracture the backbone of capitalism if we wanted to. We are extremely quick to make jokes (ie Twitter memes of people breaking into Congress), but how we process current events is completely different from previous generations. I think we are smarter and "know more" than we are given credit for. There is tons of useless and stupid information on the internet, but there are also heaps of useful things. We might be too scared to tell a waitress/barista they got our order wrong, but we also hold immense power as we are fully integrated and inseparable from technology. 

 

I could go on and on but these are just my two cents that come to mind.

 
  • Intern in PE - Other
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:52pm

As someone who graduated from a state school in the midwest, it really depends. There's people that always seem to be screaming into the void about some injustice. It's always the same groups of people. 99% (at my school) literally could not fucking care less beyond maybe retweeting something. The super woke people are easy to ignore if you are in STEM, business, econ, or something else quantitative. There's not much room for "bias" or "racism" in something quantitative.

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:02pm

this is exactly what I was curious about. tell me more about the "why are you always on your phone/computer?" bit. I see this with my generation, Gen X'ers, and even my boomer parents/in laws. what do you spend most of your screen time doing, social media? texting? youtube? what is it?

also curious to hear about curfews and other household rules. I had a curfew before I could drive that was when streetlights came on, after I got my license I think it was 9pm unless I was working, but I've heard grumblings about Gen X'ers being helicopter parents, I just don't have kids nor am I Gen X so can't say for sure.

also curious about how you process current events, what do you mean by that? I'm being deliberately vague as I don't want to lead you to an answer.

on the waitress/barista getting order wrong, what do you think drives that? the reliance on virtual communication and subsequent discomfort with face to face confrontation? a desire to minimize conflict? something else? 

finally, among your friend group (obviously selection bias since you're on WSO), what're people talking about in terms of career paths? are people talking about going down one of the various "paths" like finance, law, medicine, or business and working your way up the ladder, or is there more of an entrepreneurial bend to it? I've heard Gen Z is more financially savvy in general and less materialistic (even if they're more attached to technology), so legit curious on this.

thanks again for your thoughts, this is very interesting to me and helpful as I look to mentor college kids and eventually hire them

 
  • Prospect in IB - Ind
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:26pm

The screen time I think it really depends on the age group/person/interests. As a student all of my work is on my computer. I don't read tangible books anymore, all my notes/lectures/hw are all digitalized. Outside of school it varies so much. Texting/social media takes up a chunk of time but I also don't think social media is waste. I can receive so many different perspectives on social media (like WSO). I'd say with social media its 2/3 entertainment 1/3 learning random but useful things idk how I'd learn any other way. I watch a considerable amount of Youtube, also a mix of entertainment but lots of TedTalks, psychology lectures from professors that just pop up, financial literacy, investment, "day in the life of banker/pe", etc. all sorts of things. 

Curfews/rules also largely depends. I kinda lumped it together with generational differences because the gap is or "feels like" it's even larger because we can literally see and hear so many other kids who "live our dream life" or have the families "we want." Like which kid doesn't want to quit school, move to LA with a bunch of friends in a mansion, and throw parties and make tiktoks all day? But most times that's not going to happen for many reasons.

I think a large reason for processing current events differently is because we get our news information largely from social media. I read NYT, Bloomberg etc just out of habit from recruiting for IBD. Anyone how is younger or doesn't actively read publications like that will hear about things from Twitter/Youtube/Reddit/etc. This leads to the issue of informational inaccuracy or extreme bias. And most times, people are not going to "do more research" on the topic to gather all the facts so what we hear is what we believe which imo is dangerous. We don't know how to respond other than make a joke about it (coping mechanism I suppose). It could also be a sense of powerlessness in a time where we are not taken seriously ("too young", "genz", whatever it is), but there is so much chaos we witness from the internet. 

For the waitress/barista thing, I just don't think we want to make anyone's life more difficult for something that's minor. Like I know people my age who will demand to get it fixed "karen" style but it's just a hassle for both sides. Im not sure if this is the same as "getting walked over" or "being a push over" but I believe it's a mix of being kind and not creating extra inconvenience.

I go to a liberal arts uni and there is so much variety. Marketing, Business, Engineering, CS, Pre-med, Consulting, Banking, Law. I've heard of everything. As a group, I would not say we are financially savvy. But there has been a huge movement between the generation (at least the older side of it) to become more financially literate. I follow so many social media accounts and Youtube channels that make targeted content to educate genz on personal financial management and planning. But this is definetly something you have to actively seek out and learn. They still don't teach any of this in school which is crazy.

lmk if there is anything else you want to know. I'm happy that you're interested

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:47pm

thebrofessor

I had a curfew before I could drive that was when streetlights came on, after I got my license I think it was 9pm unless I was working,

I had a curfew once I got my driver's license. It extended once I got my first cell phone and could call to check in.

I got my first cell phone after I got my driver's license.

"Son, life is hard. But it's harder if you're stupid." - my dad
 
Jan 30, 2021 - 7:26pm

I can speak on the waiter/barista thing. My entire life, I sorta watched my boomer parents be "Karens" to people in the service industry. It always bothered me, but when I started working at McDonalds and saw how people talked to ME, I was even more bothered. Because of these two things, I try to go out of my way to make things easier for these folks. Often times, they probably don't want to be working there long term nor are they passionate about it. It might be some kid's first job. Maybe the waiter/barista is trying to make ends meat for the time being until a greater opportunity knocks at the door. This is stuff that I think a lot of boomers forget about. 

 
Feb 2, 2021 - 12:19pm

I thought those comments were interesting as well and numerous posters mentioned something like this. What I think might be happening here is an illusion of knowledge.

Yes, it's great that kids these days are watching more videos and TED talks on YouTube, but that is not the same thing as knowledge or actual experience.  A YouTube video on a subject is typically very biased and at best is an intro to an intro class on a subject.  Again, great that kids are finding these videos interesting, but just because you've seen a dozen videos about a subject on YouTube, does not mean that you're now a wise subject expert. In fact, if you think that, you might be more dangerous to society than someone who knows nothing at all.

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:13pm

We are driven but social media and Netflix are addictions at this point and the stating at home definitely does not help but nowadays everybody wants to be an entrepreneur and escape the 9-5 I don't know how to say this were driven but not exactly hard working the motto for us would probably be 'work smarter not harder'.

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:38pm

when you say work smarter not harder, are you saying not putting in long hours? more autonomy? or something else?

also, I know plenty of generations are addicted to social media/netflix. do you see this as a negative, a positive, neutral, what? how has this affected your life and those around you in your opinion?

and I'd argue that's a good mantra, Bill Gates said "I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it."

 
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 29, 2021 - 10:13pm

I see the social media addiction as a negative. I think I'd be a much more productive person if YouTube, pornhub, and reddit weren't just a search away. It makes me wonder what in the world older generations did to waste their time.

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 10:10pm

That's a really good way of putting it. I see so many people aiming to be part of the F.I.R.E movement. Seems like a lot of us are uninterested in the 9-5 corporate job like you mentioned. I know I definitely feel the same. I hope to go into entrepreneurship and build something.

 
Jan 30, 2021 - 6:14pm

I agree. I personally am super addicted to my phone and it gives me a lot of anxiety knowing that I've wasted a lot of my life just staring at it. My goal is to spend significantly less time on my phone going forward, but this is kinda hard to do when I'm forced to stay at home all day. It wasn't that bad when I was in school and having to spend all of my day moving around. 

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:43pm

I feel our attention spans suck and our short term memory is shot. Social media is the main reason for this, I feel that apps such as tiktok are really dangerous as we get fed this never ending feed of short video clips. Ive found that I forget things a lot quicker these days and can't concentrate or focus for very long. I'm 22 and I didn't grow up in front of a screen so can't imagine what it's like for the younger gen z cohort.

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:50pm

well you're already aware of it, so why not change it? why not use it less or not at all? what would be the social cost of a move like that?

I gave it all up last year, but that's after I'd been on it for over a decade, been over a decade removed from college, already happily married, so I truly didn't need it. just wondering if something like that is feasible for you.

 
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 29, 2021 - 4:41pm

I'm also 22 and feel the same as the person you responded to. I've deleted tiktok and try to limit my use of snap/insta to once a day. I do have a hard time staying off twitter but I've included a lot of older finance and real estate people in my follows so I guess it's ~50/50 entertainment/learning. I've thought about getting rid insta and everything but I have friends across the country/world and it makes it easy to somewhat keep up with their lives. I've also heard girls think it's a red flag if they can't find you on social media at all (i guess to do due diligence). Idk- I'll probably delete everything once I'm married.

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 6:51pm

I'm trying to limit my screen usage, especially as school starts again next week so I will be back in class (virtually). I don't think the social cost would be that high actually now that I think of it, when I consider the amount of time I actually use it to contact friends etc it's not a lot. 

 

Especially for when I graduate and go into the workforce I want to be able to more or less cut out all of my phone screen time that isnt messaging people/catching up on news. It just takes discipline to kick the habit. 

 
Most Helpful
  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 29, 2021 - 6:41pm

People might think this is a joke, but this is why I advise every young kid I talk with to start lifting weights seriously. No screens, gets you out of the house and potentially interacting with others in the gym face-to-face (much more so before COVID, sadly), great for mental and physical health, and you have to concentrate on your form and the weight, especially when lifting heavy, or you can fuck yourself up badly. Additionally, progress is very slow and significant strength/physique changes will only take place over several years, teaching dedication and goals.

There's basically no instant gratification in the weights game. Yes, you get a nice mini high at the end of a session walking out of the gym, but it's very different than the dopamine surge you get from swiping or seeing "likes." If you see some jacked dude benching three plates or deadlifting 500lbs and you want to do that too, then the only route is years of hard work.

 
  • Intern in PE - Other
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:45pm

This will be long-winded but I'm on the upper end of gen z.

I may be painting other generations with a broad brush, but social media and access to technology has made gen z more exposed and interested in a wider variety of hobbies/interests than generations before. It's much easier for people my age to find cultures/subcultures to identify with and be interested in. I have older siblings/cousins that are millenials and of course know boomers/old people. It really seems like a good number of people of older generations seem pretty one-dimensional or have very few interests outside of work + one or two hobbies. People say that Gen-Z is the most diverse generation and it probably is. I go to a state school and I have friends in the typical brad/chad frat circles, sororities, random art/design circles, gym-rat circles, some skaters, black, white, asian, etc. People our age are more connected to people of different cultures compared to previous generations. My oldest brother (millenial, technically) was a D1 athlete (non-BB/FB) and only had his athlete friends. I have cousins from late 20's to early 40's from all types of schools/careers and they all seem to have a rather homogenous group of friends. I'm worried about becoming as one-dimensional as my older extended family.

One other thing I'm afraid of for my generation is the typical problems with social media. Literally 90% of the average to hot women that I know personally, or would see out at bars, the gym, etc are all super involved with IG thottery or general attention seeking for likes and that instant dopamine hit. I go to a state school, but it's not so big that people can remain anonymous. If you're a regular at the gym, everybody knows who you are. Regular customer at the bars? There's not many bars, and they aren't obscenely crowded all the time so everybody kind of knows everybody. I work at a bar, so I can overhear and watch a lot of people/groups when they talk (this will be relevant later). I have IG and snapchat, no twitter or FB. I only follow very close friends, finmeme pages, and some various hobby pages like national parks, sports teams I like, and a few skaters. I am not active, haven't posted anything in 3+ years and keep everything private. Totals to about 100 people/pages that I follow on IG. The problem I am talking about, is that sometimes the people my age are TOO interconnected which I highlighted earlier as a positive. I happen to know a lot of people, however I can still remain rather anonymous due to intentionally limiting my online presence. Due to my employment at a bar (one of the popular ones at my school), I hear some of the most bitchy, rash, and mean things when people think no one else is listening or us workers are somehow deaf when it's not even busy. the problem is I have regularly heard groups of girls and (sometimes) guys talking bad about something they from a random person they don't know on IG. They follow hundreds of people, get 3-4k followers and people literally have no more anonymity due to this. A lot of them are always on their phone, always connected. It scares me. The constant dopamine hit that a lot of these people get when they are on social media and always connected can not be good. It's probably more prevalent at a college than in a real city, but being recognized everywhere you go has to be annoying, and a lot of people feel uncomfortable being alone or without their phone. Anyone that has been to a college library the past 4 years know what I'm talking about. If you just sit there and watch people try to study or do homework, a significant portion of people are looking at their phone every 5 minutes and constantly checking social media. A good chunk of those people that say they're depressed/have anxiety or whatever say that because their brains are so fucked up through their constant social media and insecurities. Anyone that has dated someone who freaks out when you don't text/snap back can attest how fucking nuts some people are when they're always attached and connected 24/7. Being able to take steps away and be anonymous or disconnected is severely underrated and not appreciated.

Now to address the last couple of questions in the OP. I'm not optimistic about a lot of things, except that I was fortunate to have my main circle of friends be very smart/responsible, and also cool/well-connected socially. I really got lucky that I got to pick up on some of their habits, especially my STEM friends who work their asses off. 

Another last anecdote about my school and the generation in college right now. If you watch fox news or CNN or whatever you'd probably think that professors are poisoning our brains and manipulating us into becoming SJW's. Maybe it's just me, but as a finance major, we really didn't get exposed to any sort of sjw teachers outside of the required english department classes. One prof said it disgusts her when men hold the door open for her, which was weird. The students that become sjw's or whatever are becoming that way because they chose sociology as a degree and were already fucking nuts to begin with.

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 3:59pm

WOW. your stories about bars reminds me of my time as a barback (pre social media, pre-iPhone) and wow times have changed. people will always be catty, but the constant dopamine hit/validation on socials is concerning.

what makes me optimistic is that so far everyone in this thread so far seems to realize it. you grew up with social media so you know what it is and what it isn't, and that's refreshing.

also, good on you for limiting your socials by not posting and just following people, that seems to be healthier, and even if it's a distraction, whatever, WSO is a distraction for me.

finally, you mentioned depression and anxiety. I've heard 2 takes on this (and there's likely kernels of truth in both): first, that Gen Z are more sensitive/less resilient/more easily offended than prior generations so they're not truly clinically depressed or have anxiety to the point where it'd be diagnosed, they're just weak. second, that the rise of socials, the pressure being put on young people to look perfect, get good grades, and be on the right side of history is more than any other generation's had to deal with, that it is completely legit and depression/anxiety is growing in absolute and relative terms. what do you think?

thanks for your thoughts, +1

 
  • Intern in PE - Other
Jan 29, 2021 - 4:48pm

What some people fail to understand about the less resilient part, is that our physical experiences were nerfed from the start by the people that were raising us. For example, I played football in HS. Two-a-days were banned when I got to varsity, and we had a time limit to how long practices could be. The state education board made that decision. Coaches and players had no say in the matter. I believe it is an increase in bureaucracy/legal issues that they don't want the lawsuit when some kid who's in bad shape gets heat stroke in late july/august. From my experiences academically though, I think people are still resilient. A good chunk of my friends were in STEM and had 3.7+ gpa's, with many more kids in their programs doing just as well as them busting their asses. In my own classes, I had group projects with plenty of people who were doing whatever it took to get things done. 

People my age (specifically guys) grew up calling each other slurs on MW2 before puberty. I think it really harms girls nowadays because of constant feedback/judgement. I think what I see currently is that a lot of people my age are walking on eggshells with what they do/say/tweet because it seems that someone is always watching. A lot of the "microaggression" or always offended crowd are mostly ignored in the real world outside of social media. But this is the group that's chronically depressed/anxious because they can't separate how they're treated online vs real life. There are so many opportunities in real life to find a group to fit in, and a lot of them don't know that. They see some hate online or some injustice in the news and they internalize it. It's an insecurity that people are occupied trying to please everybody online and be liked by everyone, but don't realize the most likeable people understand that not everybody is going to be their friend. 

 
  • Intern in Consulting
Feb 15, 2021 - 1:57pm

The people commenting on this are older GenZ.  Us older GenZ'ers didn't get to use social media until late middle school/high school.  Now, I have younger siblings who got instagram in 4th grade.  So as much as we are realizing the problems with social media use, out younger counterparts will have their minds 'ruined' before puberty.  There is a definite benefit to pushing back the time one gets exposed to this stuff.

And I agree that GenZ is significantly more sensitive and less resilient than other generations. Just last week I had a roommate throw a temper tantrum (swearing at us, saying he would run away from the house, balling his eyes out for 25+min) over us not wanting to room with him next year because we weren't sure he'd get a good enough job to pay expensive NYC rent.  We all had jobs, but he (final year in undergrad) still hasn't applied for any jobs yet.

The increased sensitivity combined with the pressures of being so well networked with everyone on social media makes due a rough ride in terms of mental health :/ 

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 4:06pm

Us Gen Z are seen as stupid or degenerates because we make stupid decisions like buying GME. These decisions form from memes to actually making it a reality, because are the first generation to unite people into movements through social media.

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 10:37pm

to be more specific, access to porn on your phone from a young age (were older generations able to watch porn on their phone when they were 14, anytime they want and any kind of porn they want to watch?), being able to jack off to pictures of people you know in real life (no one before us was able to do that, this is a thing that actually happens yes), access to tinder, a lot of guys are socially inept (however maybe there were always lots of socially inept guys, it seems like people are more awkward in general maybe, afraid of being labeled 'cringe' or 'tryhard', but again maybe people were always afraid of being labeled 'cringe' or 'tryhard'), some guys who struggle to form relationships become hyper aggressive redpillers who achieve success in terms of bringing girls home from a bar to have sex with them but are too cynical to form a fulfilling relationship with someone

 
  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Feb 23, 2021 - 3:19pm

famejranc

to be more specific, access to porn on your phone from a young age (were older generations able to watch porn on their phone when they were 14, anytime they want and any kind of porn they want to watch?), being able to jack off to pictures of people you know in real life (no one before us was able to do that, this is a thing that actually happens yes), access to tinder, a lot of guys are socially inept (however maybe there were always lots of socially inept guys, it seems like people are more awkward in general maybe, afraid of being labeled 'cringe' or 'tryhard', but again maybe people were always afraid of being labeled 'cringe' or 'tryhard'), some guys who struggle to form relationships become hyper aggressive redpillers who achieve success in terms of bringing girls home from a bar to have sex with them but are too cynical to form a fulfilling relationship with someone

Me. Feelsbadman. 

 
Jan 30, 2021 - 2:26am

to answer your other questions:

what's it like to be gen z - too broad to answer

what differences do you notice between yourselves and other generations - I might be generalizing, but I think that a lot of gen z people believe that we live in a clown world where a lot of things don't make sense (the narrative does not align with reality, or it doesn't make sense why reality is the way that it is) and it would be a waste of time to try and make sense of these things/it is easier to opt out. an example is voting (narrative: it's important that you vote and it would be a shame to not exercise your right to vote that some people had to fight for, reality: your single vote has no consequence on the outcome of an election), the woke young people are talked about a lot but I think that a lot of young people are checked out and do not care about politics or world events at all. there are probably lots of other 'clown world' examples (not speaking in an alt right racist context), voting is first one that came to my head though. gen z is probably far less patriotic than prior generations.

what do people get wrong about you and your peers - what do you think about gen z? I will tell you what I think that you are wrong about

how do you spend your free time - running, watching a movie (can find a place online to stream basically any movie that you want to watch), browsing the internet (WSO/4chan music board/4chan tv board/4chan lit board), drinking with friends (I'm not sure if this is a generational thing or more of a personal thing but I don't see any reason to drink a small amount of alcohol - I would rather not drink at all than drink a small amount. something else related to alcohol where I'm not sure if it's a generational thing or a personal thing - I will never drive if I had anything to drink earlier in the day)

what are you optimistic about - the ability to be content with life in the future regardless of whether some level of conventional success is achieved (career, family life, etc), in spite of how much pressure is being put on young people to be successful. being content with simply existing. being content with doing nothing even. 'every man knows how useful it is to be useful. no one seems to know how useful it is to be useless'. why must we feel that we need to do something in order to be content? shouldn't we be content without requiring something to make us content? what if the thing that once made us content does not do so in the future? this is complicated to think about though. don't think about this stuff too much or else it will get extremely dark (we are stuck in a perpetual state of wanting things that we don't have, promising ourselves pleasures and results that are not real although we think they are, this perpetual desire is pointless and the only way to escape it is death. desire only exists so that it can be satisfied - the state of stability is that of having been satisfied - similarly, life exists as progress to cease all progress, because the static state is death. life is the deferral of the very satisfaction that it craves)

what are you being taught in school that other generations weren't - my high school had something that was pretty interesting where when you were a junior/senior you could spend half the day at the home high school and then spend the other half of the day at this other school with different professional program focuses (business, engineering, filmmaking, entrepreneurship) that anyone from the district could go to. it was awesome.

as a side note - it's possible that many of the answers here are more reflective of personal experience than they are of the generation as a whole

 
Feb 1, 2021 - 9:30am

famejranc

what do people get wrong about you and your peers - what do you think about gen z? I will tell you what I think that you are wrong about

1. race just isn't a thing - because of so much interracial marriage, immigration, and exposure to different cultures online, Gen Z'ers are likely more tolerant and don't make a big deal about race, religion, etc., they've grown up being interconnected rather than siloed

2. they're modern day depression babies - these were issues when I was coming up, but they weren't my formative years. I'm talking about growing up during the tech bubble crash/911 aftermath/iraq war and then GFC and now covid. I have a suspicion that Gen Zers are kinda like depression era babies that grew up witnessing class divide and economic hardship. I have a feeling that this could make them more resilient to crises or it could make them more nihilistic and fatalistic (perhaps all of the above)

3. finding a mate is more difficult - people are more promiscuous as a whole, relationships last less time, and people have potentially harmful misconceptions about sex (because of the fact you grew up with iphones and porn being accessible 24/7)

4. better researchers, poorer debaters - I haven't done research on this so it's an idea that could probably be quickly refuted, but I believe having grown up with the internet, gen Z are incredibly resourceful, but I also believe a reliance on the written word and short form messaging has damaged that generation's ability to effectively debate verbally/in person. when I was in school, and I believe this was the case with prior generations, we would often times have to debate issues in front of others, and as a result you became a better debater. there was no social cost to saying something disagreeable because there was no social media, so discourse was much freer (maybe that's just me having rosy memories of the past and it wasn't really all that, idk)

5. they're independent - technology has massively increased the ability of every individual to learn, work, and so on without a team/infrastructure. I'm not saying others aren't important, I'm just saying it's never been easier to open up a 1 person shop online and try to earn money that way. I do think Gen Z'ers have the ability to collaborate, I just think they could be less reliant on groups than prior generations

 
Jan 29, 2021 - 10:18pm

I think a lot of people in this generation are devoid of critical thinking. They have the "activism before analysis" mindset where they push for a cause before really thinking through the implications. Maybe this is a product of social media "slacktivism" or maybe this is just how all young generations are... 

 
  • Prospect in IB - CB
Jan 29, 2021 - 10:23pm

Born late 2002 so early gen z

What differences do you notice between yourselves and other generations?

We spend more time worrying about looking good. Most people look up to people on social media, like youtubers and other social media influencers. They want to party like them or dress like them. They don't understand that they are playing a character. 

What do people get wrong about you and your peers?

We aren't as snowflakes as people think we are. I mean there are some people who will get triggered if you say retard or that test raped me, but most people are pretty chill.

How do you spend your free time?

Netflix, Social Media, Jerking off, Chess

What are you worried about?

Not getting a solid job or not being able to retire and pursue what I want to do

What are you optimistic about?

Having a fun time in college

What are you being taught in school that maybe prior generations weren't? I'm specifically thinking about cultural, technology, and financial things, though others could be interesting.

They are teaching us excel, java and more technology type of things. 

 

 
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 29, 2021 - 10:58pm

I'm in the weird realm of people between Gen Z and millennial, but I'd like to think I can make some insights because I really identify more with that generation and my younger sister is squarely in the middle of it.

What differences do you notice between yourselves and other generations?

Our constant use of technology is the core thing that differentiates us. The ways that this makes us different from other generations include the following: 

  1. Problem solving: we have a willingness to use technology to solve any problem we may encounter. A simple example is one my cousin in her mid-30's made at thanksgiving a couple years back: if a millennial or person of an older generation doesn't remember the name of an actor in a movie, their first instinct would be to try and remember it "off the top of their head". The first instinct for someone from the gen z generation would simply be to pull out their phone and look it up. 
  2. How we approach learning: If you want to learn about something that mildly interests you, there are infinite ways to do so on the internet. Part of the reason why I love Tik Tok so much is that I do a lot of drawing / photography, and there are a lot of creators on the site that will compose easy, short informational videos about new concepts and procreate techniques. I know the same exists for makeup artists, handymen, and personal finance on Tik Tok alone (leave alone other sites like YouTube). 
  3. Social connections: This is complicated. Social media and other outlets can be great, because they are powerful tools that can make people feel connected or isolated. It all depends on what you're using it for. For example, if you're someone who's constantly caught up in trying to fit in and want to be part of a particular friend group, you may find it isolating because you can see what everyone else is doing and if you were invited to something or weren't invited to something. However, if you just don't fit in with your current social environment (in person), and find your community online (whether that be in gaming, drawing, etc.) then it can be a powerfully connecting and healthy experience. Kind of a bad explanation but I hope I conveyed the point. 
  4. Greater awareness of random issues: you come across a lot of ideas when you spend your life on the internet. 

Also, side note, it's incredibly irritating when older generations complain to us about how we're "on our phones" all the time "rotting our brains". The majority of what I do on my phone is educational or serves a specific purpose, whether it be looking at videos that teach me a new skill or reading articles about a current event. Just because I'm not pulling out a newspaper and reading news that is likely outdated by the time it arrives on your doorstep anyways, doesn't mean I'm spending all my time ogling instagram models or people making viral dance videos on Tik Tok. 

What do people get wrong about you and your peers?

You have some radical people, but our generation isn't that sensitive? I also think people use sensitive as a synonym in this case for caring a lot about something and not being willing to back down on it. We're definitely more radical than previous generations but that's what happens when you have a deteriorating political environment that combines with the echo chamber that is the internet. Gen Z will definitely stand up for what they believe in and it's extremely difficult to change their opinion on certain issues once they form it, which makes them headstrong and passionate (even if they have a flawed/really radical view on something). 

Also, we're better at distinguishing fake sources of information than older generations, but our skills at seeing explicit bias really vary. Most gen z are easily able to tell when something is clearly fake information (like a bot posting or some clearly edited political photo), but many will regularly cite CNN or Fox News without acknowledging both of those sites post heavily biased content. 

How do you spend your free time?

Social media, hanging out with friends (pre-covid), art, reading

What are you worried about?

That if I'm not hyper - successful I'll end up drowning in student loans and never be able to enjoy my career a healthy amount. A huge part of the reason why I've chosen to go into finance is because it was an easy choice to pay bills when many post grad jobs are barely enough to live on considering our student loan situations. 

That I'll likely end up marrying someone I come to hate and will end up divorcing. 4 of my 5 close friends have divorced parents, and mine aren't particularly happy either. In many ways this also feels kind of liberating - if I come to dislike someone enough to divorce them I know I'll be in the majority of Americans. 

What are you optimistic about?

Very little honestly. Maybe this will change as I build up my savings and feel like I'm in a more stable position. 

If you're asking me what makes me happy there are plenty of things, but in terms of future outlook for society as whole, things make me very stressed. 

What are you being taught in school that maybe prior generations weren't? I'm specifically thinking about cultural, technology, and financial things, though others could be interesting.

I don't think the actual curriculum has changed that much in schools. But I would argue far more people are learning things via social media or other platforms, which means it's very hard to generalize what gen z knows and doesn't know. It really differs from person to person. 

 
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 29, 2021 - 11:16pm

Also just adding onto my previous comment after reading some of the other posts: 

  • the instant gratification nature of social media and tik tok has really shoots my attention span to shit when I use it too much. But, we're aware of it and I've known plenty of people who regularly press pause on social media and delete them all just to reset things once every few months
  • the impact of social media on girls and boys is more different than most people would care to imagine. As a young woman who uses social media, I've had so many friends succumb to severe ED's because of the unrealistic body standards posed online. And the worst part is, it's not like boys are aware of it. They idolize women that routinely lie about the thousands of dollars they've spent on their bodies, and then expect body standards that defy conventional proportions (ex: lip fillers, bbl's, cat eye facelift, routine botox injections to the jaw and undereyes, being able to see our ribcage, hip gaps). I could go on for days about this issue but I'll stop my rant here. 
 
Jan 29, 2021 - 11:54pm

lol I think that the part about guys not knowing that the fake stuff is fake is true. I don't think I agree though that guys specifically want this fake stuff a lot more than they want someone who is naturally attractive. I also think that guys in general are not too harsh in terms of the physical characteristics that they are looking for. I might be wrong here because I am not a girl but it doesn't seem that hard to be fit enough to be desirable as a girl in terms of what your body looks like. maybe too much of an emphasis is placed on having an attractive face though. also I think that a lot of guys operate on a binary scale, either yes I think that she is attractive or no I do not think that she is attractive. and if it's true that most guys operate on a binary scale, it would be pointless for a girl to worry about if she is more attractive than another girl who is also thought to be attractive.

 
Feb 15, 2021 - 8:18am

What do you think @thebrofessor about this answer?

As I think you did not place this question just for fun, I'd be curious about your takeaways from your research.

 

I found this gen answers to be quite level headed. It helped me understand better their views on tech and media. It also raised my concerns about biased info and fact checking, as info is consumed and fwd very quickly, omitting this important step in the process...

 
Feb 15, 2021 - 12:53pm

apologies on late response, went on vacation and had other shit going on past 2 weeks. got some business, got some waves, now back to normal-ish.

thanks man, glad you enjoyed this thread, and no I did not make it just for fun (although it has been fun), I did it to check my own thinking. I had a suspicion that the "snowflake" archetype was largely exaggerated but needed some input, and while there's some selection bias because this is posed on WSO and not in a high school or college class with all peoples represented, it helps.

it confirms a lot of my suspicions and challenges some others. the part about use of the internet and the awareness of its perils (something I think is lost on boomers), even if the web and social media are hard addictions to break, I will admit I shortchanged Gen Z's self awareness because I made the false assumption that succumbing to these addictions (internet, netflix, etc) and using these serves ad nauseum means that they're blinded by their vices.

I have some specific questions for the other guy so will reply there. 

 
Feb 15, 2021 - 12:55pm

I want to probe you on the what're you worried about and what're you optimistic about questions.

why, specifically, are you worried about marrying someone you come to hate? I understand why that's bad, but that doesn't tell me why YOU, specifically, are worried. is this unique to your generation or just one of the more overarching worries every young man goes through? either way, I can try to help you think through that if you'd like.

why are you not optimistic? be specific please. I don't want to put words in your mouth, I'm curious. 

 
Jan 30, 2021 - 12:07am

Interesting point made in another comment about the fear of divorce. Divorce rates have risen drastically for the parents of gen z children, and something I've also noticed about recent divorce statistics is that nearly 70-80% of divorces are initiated by women. Combine that with the fact that financial independence and having a carrer is something much more important among younger women , it will be interesting to see the effects on future divorce rates and marriages.

Array
 
Jan 30, 2021 - 5:59pm

Gen Z kid here, graduated high school early (my school is strange) I would say I'm worried for my job market coming out of college. Just worried in general what the next four years are going to look like. I'm interested in IB and have been interested in finance from a young age being influenced by my brother but I'm hoping there are still good opportunities with all that's going on.

And my school was pretty finance oriented, I started getting into fin literacy around sophomore year and it helped a lot with living alone (boarding school)

 
Jan 30, 2021 - 7:08pm

I'm an older member of Gen Z who doesn't really interact with younger members of Gen Z, but I still think I have some insight. A lot of the other comments hit the nail on the head.

Social media is a really big part of our generation. I think it does a lot of harm. It does allow us to be more connected with the world, but it's also REALLY addictive. You see a constant highlight reel of the best part of other people's lives and it can definitely make one feel inadequate. Also, I think that with some of us, there's this pressure to maintain a social media presence, which leads to a compulsive need to overshare everything. I rarely post and feel like some people think less of me because of this. I use Instagram a lot, but I think Tik Tok is the big thing now. I personally don't use it, but I've heard that it's very addictive. Another issue I have with social media is that a lot of people get their opinions from social media which in my opinion is NOT a good thing. A  280 tweet, a instagram meme, or a tiktok isn't a sufficient substitute for reading a book or newspaper.

 

There is a huge gap between us and boomers. I have boomer parents and I think we just view the world differently since we grew up in different worlds. Don't get me wrong, the 1950s to 1990s had their own struggles, but conditions to the world that Gen Zers grew up in is radically different. I know that my parents had to worry about shit like Vietnam and whatnot, but overall they were able to go to college, take on minimal student debt (my dad paid his student loans off by working at McDonalds), have a ton of fun, and get a ticket straight to the middle class. However, once the boomers got their money and came to power, they instituted a lot of "reforms" that made it hard for us to have the same success. Many of us have to drop a fortune on college, take out gigantic student loans, do multiple internships, get good grades, network, and just maybe we'll get a job that will pay enough for us to be financially secure. Also, we are living in a post 9/11 world with mass hysteria. We grew up with the US fighting two wars, which we later learned were kinda started on dubious premises (this is probably why the military is struggling to recruit). We constantly see schools getting shot up on the news, something that my boomer parents never worried about. Many of us remember the 2008 recession. I'm interested to see how COVID is going to affect us going forward. Many of us had a lot of our college and high school experiences taken away from us in the name of helping older people (COVID is much deadlier for older people than it is for young people) only to watch the death rate sky rocket despite our sacrafices. Idk, it's personally very frustrating for me. I've read a lot of studies about mental illness like depression and suicidal ideation going up a lot in younger Americans during this pandemic. Oh, and many of us grew up in dysfunctional households and had divorced parents. And there's growing political polarization that resulted in riots and the Capitol getting stormed. Combined with social media and the 24/7 news cycle, I think all of this has to do with why a lot of Gen Z is mentally ill, a concept that boomers don't understand as much.

 

One good thing about Gen Z is that many of us are more politically aware, which might lead to us fixing a lot of the issues in the world that we grew up in. Our generation definitely likes to get things done and I disagree that we're "lazy"; our world doesn't really allow for us to be lazy anymore. My two biggest fears going forward are that I'lll graduate college without getting a good job and that I'll get married only to get a divorce. 

 

 

 
Feb 1, 2021 - 12:16pm

One thing is that everyone can kind of be cool on the Internet, and there are fewer real loners or outcasts as previous generations. One positive of social media nowadays is that it's way easier to find a sub-community of people you identify with. If you're a kid who likes anime and raves, then the algorithm on TikTok will show you other people in the space that love those things and talk about it, make memes about it, and so on. If you're a guy who's into fashion, then you'll find a bunch of people who have the same style as you and enjoy posting their fits. 

I would say it's harder for an average guy to date, between all the socials and not to mention dating apps. On the other hand, if you have good pictures and style on Instagram and Hinge, it is easier than ever to find girls near you in my opinion. 

 
Feb 15, 2021 - 1:00pm

My experience with my teenage cousin:

- they are obsessed with TikTok and instagram;

-never heard of MSN Messenger, even Skype is ancient;

-have all the same mental issues that are widespread among millennials;

-abysmal role models, plenty of FOMO, lots of lack of purpose and lack of guidance.

They seem as fucked up as us millennials, the digital divide is noteworthy.

 

 

Can be summoned to make fun of liberals at will. 

 
Feb 15, 2021 - 1:19pm

Oh and the worst note is that those who used to be goths/emos/vampires among previous generations, the outcasts, now think the reason they don't fit in society and aren't popular at school is because they are transgender. With the noteworthy difference that you grow out of the first, but if you mutilate or alter your body, it's permanent. Liberals will never, ever be forgiven for the damage they are doing to society.

Can be summoned to make fun of liberals at will. 

  • 1
 
Feb 15, 2021 - 2:54pm

Late to the party but wanted to bring up something I have noticed.

Many here have spoken about social media addiction and the psychological impacts / general depression amongst Gen Z.

When you look at IG, Youtube, FB, etc - there is an entire economy of 'influencers' who churn out content related to success and how to become successful.  As other have stated, Gen Z has more access to information and education than any generation before it.  That fact is constantly brought up and is a major theme with these content creators.  I would characterize their message as "every single person can be wildly successful -- all you have to do is use your resources and put in the work."  

On its face, this is an incredibly attractive mindset but has the downside of being unrealistic about the success rate of people going into business for themselves.  There is inherent survivorship bias with every successful influencer and not much is said for the countless unsuccessful people in that space.  

From what I observe, this creates the perfect space for Gen Zers (other gens too) to have unrealistic expectations of success - making it that much worse when they fail.  When you are continually reminded that access to resources is your generation's greatest asset, yet you fail or are not as rapidly successful it makes that "failure" so much worse.  The thinking becomes: even though I have every opportunity and all these other people found middling to massive success, my business or my channel or whatever still didn't work out.

I think there will have to be a reckoning where Gen Z in particular will have to come to grips with the fact that some people will always be more talented or better connected than you and no amount of Coursera classes, Youtube tutorials, or online workshops will make up some of those gaps.  What will be really interesting is what happens when a significant part of these populations "wake up" and realize that they will be lucky to even afford a starter house, or travel the world, or whatever definition of success they have been fed. 

What happens when all that raw ambition out there is deflated by reality?  Will the people who grew up fantasizing about unrealistic definitions of success be willing to "work their asses off" (work as hard as the successful people from generations prior) for less than their picture of success?  I often wonder if UBI or something like it will be the answer many seek, thinking "I know I will never get to my ideal level of wealth so I might as well take whatever they will give for doing as little as possible."

Whatever happens, I think Gen Z will eventually have a massive redefinition of what success is, mostly as a means of defense against being unable to achieve what they have been told every single generational member can achieve.

 

 
Feb 20, 2021 - 11:51am

Things are happening earlier and earlier. So much underage sex and i mean at like middle school level. It's scary. People aspire to be strippers or stoners and while that's their choice, it's just sad. I come from a selective school, and if it's happening there i wonder what state schools are like.

People think we are just culture with no substance; emojis have lost their meaning, photos are only to brag, yada yada. I would disagree and say it's almost like an unspoken truth that none of its real and, in my experience, we can form good connections.

Some of us hate capitalism, I blame fucking tiktok because there's literally 'commie theory for idiots' plastered EVERYWHERE. Also lots of hyper sexual stuff, which as a girl growing up w the internet made me think if i hadn't been asked for nudes yet, at like 14, I was ugly and i needed a better push up bra. Also what the fuck is it with young girls saying they want to be manipulated, and using mental illnesses as an accessory? Daddy issues? Schizophrenia? I think communication issues tbh.

 I think Gen z could benefit from being more wholesome without it being performative. Like hug your mom type of stuff. We have good empathy. We should learn to be careful with our emotions.

 
Feb 23, 2021 - 2:53pm

jessisfresh

People think we are just culture with no substance; emojis have lost their meaning, photos are only to brag, yada yada. I would disagree and say it's almost like an unspoken truth that none of its real and, in my experience, we can form good connections.

This is so true. Older people only see what happens to us online, and miss the real social interactions we have as a generation. At least to my self and those around me, we understand that social media is just that, and shit in real life holds more value.

 
Feb 21, 2021 - 1:15pm

I'm a millennial (31 years old) - agree with what others have said on here so far, e.g. the impression I get of Gen Z are that many of them take views/information (or disinformation) from social media without any analysis or critical thinking.

But the biggest impression I have around Gen Z is they think life is a movie and they are the main star. When in reality, if life is a movie then most of us will be extras at best. You see on reddit and other social media platforms so many posts from Gen Z kids leaving college and going into the working world, and clearly they have so little understanding or knowledge of how the world works. For example there will be kids with liberal arts degrees from no-name colleges complaining they are working for low salaries, and saying things like "$25ph minimum wage" or "Bernie should make sure anyone earning over $100k gets taxed into oblivion".

Even your initial post OP - first of all I want to say you write well, and don't take this personally. But your post makes it sound as if this generation is going to be the first to change the world. I realize it might feel like that - but you have to understand that every young generation has had that view, going back to kids growing up in the 1960s and "summer of love". Gen Z will have their impact on the world I'm sure, but you guys are not super-unique/special I'm afraid.

I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens when these Gen Z kids get to their mid/late-20s, and many of them have what they see as completely unfulfilling lives by their own/social media's standards. They will probably blame the system and want to overturn capitalism (just look at the recent Gamestop craze/"movement" on reddit).

As to why this is? Good question - I suspect social media has a big part to play, also maybe upbringing (with "participation trophies" etc telling every kid they will always be a winner).

Anyway, I'm genuinely interested in hearing more Gen Z viewpoints on this - maybe I'm completely mistaken, but this is the impression I get from many of the Gen Z kids I have interviewed and on reddit/social media etc.

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