I’ve heard it said that millennials are boomers’ dream children, after their social experiments involving divorce, free-love, abortion, and feminism turned their first set of children into cynical anti-authoritarians who were just generally confused, but in a bitter way. You can see the bitterness in 90’s grunge rock; it creates a sharp contrast to the dumb sitcom world of Friends, where clinging to friendship in the wake of broken families is played out with canned laughs and corny punchlines.
Millennials were that in between generation, the children of more stable, but aging boomers and the older set of Xers. They were more likely to be daycare kids rather than latchkey ones — when they were too old for daycares, there were always publicly-funded after-school programs waiting for them. For us odd ball parents, we homeschooled; millennials grew up in the era when homeschool rates took a sharp upward path.
I hesitate to say it, but gen Z are in a sense the dream children of Xers. They’re being raised by a combination of aging Xers and older millennials. This is a strange contrast, as Xers were under-parented (in general, not specific) and millennials over-parented by helicopter moms and social programs. The result is a kind of weariness with the world, especially when adding round the clock internet and entertainment access. Hence, Gen Z has seen everything, and they’re pretty tired of it already.
I was thinking about this after reading about and subsequently watching the 14-yr-old YouTube phenomenon Soph. She’s gotten in a lot of trouble because she just won’t play by the PC rules set up for us by the powers-that-be — old media and teacherly types, mostly, who thought it was super-cool to drop F-bomb when they were young, but have a low tolerance for truth being spoken plainly. And that’s what Soph drops, truth bomb after truth bomb. She’s utterly disconcerting, but no more so than the rest of the gen Z kids I spend time around. She just happens to be articulate and intelligent and a popular YouTuber to boot. Right now, her youth protects her a little; I don’t know too many people who look kindly on adult bullies who go after children. But this generation is going to grow up. They are growing up, and their unwillingness to follow the correct social path is at the same time frightening and heartening. Those who so carefully constructed our modern social order put a lot of effort into it. And they aren’t going to give it up lightly.