Why Gen Z is So Aimless
I am not writing this to debate. Nor am I here to recite the evidence, line by line, as shown in studies, polls, statistical data or anything of the sort, because that evidence is already accumulated and available plenty of places elsewhere, and because my perspective is not as a professional observer, but as an active participant in the trends being observed. I am writing this to share my own experiences, as a 22-year-old who has lived in 4 different states in the past 4 years in vastly different regions of the USA, in the subject of the pervasive aimlessness plaguing Gen Z. I will proceed through some of the more plausible explanations behind this trend being thrown around, from the most to the least obvious, and hopefully somewhere in there I’ll say something you’ve never considered.
Most obvious, I think, is exactly what our mothers warned us of when we were in school and too cool to listen; those damn phones have actually destroyed us. Our competencies are stunted, our self-perceptions and worldviews are twisted, and we are all hopelessly addicted to our little life-denying and soul-sucking slave-labor-made rectangles. Most young Americans are husks of human beings, living out their lives on their smartphones, one way or the other, either scrolling mindlessly through low-quality content, comparing themselves constantly to peers they’ve never said a word to, falling for get-rich-quick schemes or out-of-touch political ideologies or weird conspiracy theories, or even using the Internet to access disturbing and psychologically damaging content. These devices don’t just enable addiction; they engineer it. Plenty has been written on this already.
And I don’t think the recent hyperfocus on this issue is unwarranted or exaggerated. I think the level of attention it gets in the media today is due to a catching-up my major news outlet on a problem so huge it defines a generation. What a terrible coincidence, then, if there’s really nothing causal here, that this has happened at the same time as the catastrophic decline in real-world outlets of American social life. Certainly, both of these majorly contribute to the catastrophic increase in loneliness.
Just think for a second, no matter how old you are: how old are the loneliest…