Correction on Wednesday, Nov. 6: this story was originally published with the headline "This generation is nothing but apathetic" but should have read, "This generation is anything but apathetic." The headline has been updated to accurately reflect the story.
For a generation so inundated with technology and communication, generation Z gets a lot of flak for being apathetic and uninformed. There is some confusion about where the line between generation Z and millennials is, but essentially everyone age 25 and below is generation Z and 25 to 30 are millennials.
The Economist released an article in 2015 about how young people are “turning their back on politics.” So are we really apathetic? Has my generation — those in their early 20’s — really stopped caring about the world and politics? Of course we haven’t, and it doesn’t take much research to realize this.
Technology is both the cause and the remedy of these apathy accusations. Older generations complain that we’re absorbed in celebrity drama and technology, focusing our energy on vapid and unimportant things. Though there is some truth to this (think Buzzfeed listicles), it is also technology that has allowed more young people than ever before to make a positive impact on the world. Complex news released a list of 20 political activists under the age of 22 who are changing the world.
One recent example of a young person having a political impact is Greta Thurnburg, who captured the public’s attention worldwide for her ideas and drive towards solving climate change.
Thunberg alone should be proof to baby boomers and even those older that our generation isn't standing idly by while the world falls apart around us. In fact, it seems like we’re the only generation working to make a difference.
To be fair, amongst my peers I have heard a sentiment that previous generations have left politics and the environment in such a poor state that there is nothing we can do. This is an easy cop out that not many young adults actually support.
After talking to some students here at UO ranging from age 20-22, I found that all of them recognize giving up on creating social and environmental change is not a good idea. One student named River Veek said, “The present may seem bleak, but to be honest that’s nothing new and it’s never stopped us before.”
I believe the perception of young apathy is something that most generations feel. Whether it is a feeling of alienation from modern trends or a misunderstanding of new technology, older generations consistently berate the younger ones with accusations of indifference.
So, what does young activism look like? For the most part it is social media campaigns aimed at spreading awareness. These kind of social trends might seem unimportant and self serving, but they are the channels through which these messages will continue to create change.
I find myself surrounded by each day’s headlines and stories through my phone. Social media has created a hyper-awareness of events around the world, and I think it is this awareness that will give my generation the ability to influence the world around us in positive ways.