What’s Your Social Status?

As we navigate through the 21st century, society has been split into different categories, which are determined by the year that people were born. In this era of globalisation, ANJANA KANCHI, a class 8 student at Southwell School, Hamilton, New Zealand, sheds light on the undeniable impact that Generation Z and Generation Alpha have on the world.

March 16, 2023

Over the years, from the early 2000s to where we are now, the term ‘teenager’ has seemed to be significantly associated with the term ‘cool’. Isn’t that every child’s dream? To be cool and collected, while having a social circle so wide it could cover the Pacific Ocean! As such, this new societal norm has been introduced by Gen Z as a stepping-stone for Gen Alpha into young adulthood. However, the idea that self-worth determination is directly proportional to one’s social status is absolutely preposterous. In most cases, it might even trigger a deep-seeded psychological disturbance in today’s youngsters.

Nowadays, the bridge between childhood and adulthood is called ‘teenagehood’. It seems that the vast majority of Gen Alpha is under 12 years of age. This creates a barrier between the two generations—childhood versus teenagehood. Being a teen, Gen Z’s sense of maturity seems to over-ignite. This stimulates something in their personality while boosting their ego, causing them to be bossier to children younger than them. Thinking they are ‘better’ now that they are young adults, they seem oblivious to the fact that they themselves are still mere teens. This will only cause a ripple effect in Gen Alpha to disrespect those younger than them, rather than treat everyone as individuals. Without respect for one another, our world would turn cold and bitter, filled with self-absorbed people without an ounce of empathy in their hearts.

In many intermediate schools, they teach ‘The Power of One’, which emphasises the principle of living independently. Bringing us to the term ‘independence’, recent studies show that Gen Z is actually better educated, more practical, more ambitious and more sceptical than the generation that raised them—the millennials. These traits mainly sprout from social media. Social media is a communication platform, which allows you to share your opinions with the world. As a result, Gen Z has emerged united and stronger than ever. At such a ripe age, they manage to take advantage of today’s technology by learning about worldwide issues and broadening their horizons. With the progressive advancement of technology, we have to open our minds to the fact that it is highly probable that Gen Alpha will not only follow, but also enhance the footsteps of Gen Z and emerge as an empowering society of leaders.

Many activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Boyan Slat and more acted alone in their pursuit. This lack of unity can sometimes be reflected in the ways of Gen Z and Gen Alpha. We are all human, and with that comes differences of opinion. Without unity, war is bound to break out and shatter world peace. For example, the rulers or people who fought for ridiculous causes such as Putin’s ‘more land’ and Hitler’s ‘Jews are bad’ as it was merely their own opinions. This is why Gen Z must set a good example of leadership for Gen Alpha. After all, they are our hope for a brighter tomorrow!

A ruler who doesn’t empathise with the people may cause a great deal of suffering. North Korea, for example, invests the majority of the money that it receives from China or Russia in the military sector. They make the people’s voices unheard, oblivious to the fact that the people should be first and foremost for the sake of democracy. No matter how hard we try, we cannot be perfect, because being absolutely perfect has too many imperfections. Being perfect goes against the natural urge of humans to break the rules.

It would be interesting to see how the internet relates to Gen Z and Gen Alpha in changing the world. The internet can be identified as a bottomless pit of knowledge. Millions of people are actively using the internet as a medium of communication on a daily basis. Just about anyone is able to share their opinions or even life stories in the hope of making a positive impact on others. An online survey in the United States found that 96% of Gen Z users had a YouTube account. Gen Z YouTubers are raising awareness about difficult issues while also making us laugh with their quirky and creative videos. As a result, Gen Alpha has taken advantage of these useful videos and applied them in their daily lives such as ‘study tips’, ‘recipes for cooking’, ‘how to save the environment’ and many more! Just about anything can be found on the internet, and it has become essential in our daily lives.

Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of the internet to bend the rules. Like stalking, spreading false rumours or scamming people of their money, the society of social media is progressively becoming more and more toxic towards the young generation. Usually, young girls from both Gen Z and Gen Alpha fall victim to the unachievable beauty standards set by misleading beauty filters and make-up products. A handful of influencers have also led young girls to think that being beautiful means having flawless skin, wearing branded products and being nothing but skin and bones. These seemingly impossible expectations for young girls result in many cases of severe depression, obsession and mental health disorders. Sunken into the abyss of expectations, Gen Z and Gen Alpha lose out on having the fun-filled, worry-free childhood that many millennials had.

In today’s day and age, many youngsters read Colleen Hoovers and/ or Ana Huang’s books. Those books are age-rated 17 to 18+, so Gen Alpha is only limited to childish books that portray the world in two dimensions. A majority of publishers underestimate Gen Alpha’s capability to absorb knowledge and understand the meaning of life. But if your reading maturity is much more advanced, why be limited from extending your true capacity? Many 11-year-olds have a reading age of 15 to 16+. If they are bound to books of their actual age, how are they supposed to improve? This could just be a prime example of double standards, not knowing the beginning to end. Why is it that though Marvel movies are violent, kindergarten students watch them with their parents? Maybe the truth is that both Gen Z and Gen Alpha are turning a blind eye to unfavourable truths, choosing to believe only what they want, causing a good lot of them to drift from reality. The truth is like in Instagram, when you come across a celebrity who is ‘casually admiring the sunset’ we all know is fake, sugar-coated in filters and ‘flattering angles’. Despite this, Gen Z and Gen Alpha are no different in chasing praise and acceptance from mere strangers on social media.

Anjana Kanchi

It seems that Gen Z and Gen Alpha have matured into a complex structure of young adults, being the only spark of hope we have for a brighter tomorrow. Yet, they suffer a great deal, while also contributing to societal problems around the world. It’s an undefeatable battle of chain reactions against oneself. The only question is, is it really worth it?

Anjana Kanchi is a class 8 student at Southwell School, Hamilton, New Zealand

REFLECTION: Just One Is Enough

What does ‘The Power of One’ mean to you?

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