What it means to be part of Generation Z

What it means to be part of Generation Z

Juvenoia; which is the hostility, or fear directed by an older generation towards a younger one. The general belief that the current generation is better than the one to come. Remember this, ‘cause it will come into play later on.

But for now, you must be asking yourself, what is Generation Z? How do you know what generation you’re in? Well, I trust that you people are smart enough to do your own research, but Generation Z, for simplicity’s sake, is the generation following the Millennial Generation. You know, most of our parents and uncles, and some cousins. It’s a generation that is conservative in nature, being involved in major political affairs, such as the Cold War and the Iraq-Iran War. For Africans, it’s also a period associated with freedom! Independence! and the subsequent rise of incompetent, ruthless, and corrupt leaders. It’s no wonder many people are so mad at the Millennial Generation, they appear to have successfully fucked things up, almost to an irreversible state.  If you were born sometime between 1997 and 2004, good news, you’re part of Generation Z! As cool as it sounds, it doesn’t seem to be going well for us. I jokingly often write in my journal that we are the “Generation of Fear”, primarily being the ones scared. Before many of us could even experience fear…boom! The Columbine Massacre, which shocked the world, the Y2K scare, which many thought would end the world, the horrific 9/11 attacks, and the Great Recession. As we grew older, we witnessed the Iraq War, and more terror attacks than had ever been seen. And not just terrorism from Islamic factions, but gun violence and mass shootings too. The Garissa University attack in Kenya leaving 150 people dead, the kidnapping of girls by Boko Haram, the Paris bombings, and most recently, the possibility that a racist and misogynist like Donald Trump might become president of the most powerful country in the world.

Yes, it seems we are a failed generation despite not having reached our potential. I, for one, am still not in college, yet I seemed to have disappointed the majority of my onlookers and relatives by becoming a rebel and not striving to be an engineer, doctor, or lawyer. I instead have a deep rooted love of quiet, books, photography, and technology. Maybe because of this, the juvenoia directed towards me is rather strong. I feel constantly berated by my elders for my own life choices, choosing happiness, and a little bit of money, over the money alone. Some people might argue that juvenoia is a good influence on us youngsters. It’d do us some good to listen to our elders for once. Wrong! And this is especially true for us Africans, especially considering that our elders are the corrupt and unreliable leaders who have contributed some part to the general state of things on our lovely continent.  I think that their juvenoia is terribly misplaced, considering we are more educated, well informed, and knowledgeable than them. We may not have their wisdom, but the ability to change our destinies and break the cycle of tribalism, hatred, racism and poverty is in our hands. Basically, what I’m saying is, stop giving us so much shit. This isn’t all our faults.

We may not be even near to perfect. The media makes us seem like a bunch of unruly animals, what with all the teen pregnancies, and drug abuse among teenagers, and the thousand other things said about us. But really, who can put all the blame on us? I’m not trying to make us unaccountable, but when you see what we see, you’d understand. Oh the glitz and the glam! The rappers with their jewellery and cars, the models marrying said rappers. The celebrities who sniff lines of coke and win Grammies and Oscars and the reality stars who are able to rise to stardom from saying, or doing things that would ordinarily warrant quite a lot of shame. We are the recipients of a world that has seen the most organised drug trafficking, human trafficking and crime…yet. Not to mention the generation that has been introduced to all sorts of new substances, all at reasonable street prices, and introduced to the worst sorts of radicalism, all accessible through your favourite media platform.

Cyber bullying, ebola, police violence, riots, child porn, drugs, zika, terrorism, radicalism, mass shootings, increasing suicide rate, anxiety, been there, done that. Fear, fear, FEAR stress, stress, STRESS….are you scared yet? Good, because we’re still here.

We’re not only hanging on, we’re becoming better for it. Our generation is the first to, for the most part, be alright with same sax marriage. We are the least racist generation in a long time. We’re independent, wanting to become entrepreneurs and carve our own paths. We’re the generation with the most friends outside of our sex, religion and race. More educated and open minded, we’re very serious about change for the better. At least, those who can manage to do so, even in the smallest ways. We’ve been exposed to the worst of it, and we’re moving forward. “Kids these days,” they say disapprovingly. Yes, kids these days. Us. We may be young, but we’ve got big plans. We dress differently, and listen to, admittedly, awful music(at times) and we think differently. But if we’re fixing some of the messes you made, and some you couldn’t fix, then it might be time to change that tone.

We’re the generation of Crisis, after the Unravelling, and we were born to not be just another statistic to scare the next generation into behaving. We’re the harbingers of change, and revolution, to inspire the next genration. It’s time to start moving.

Alone, but not Lonely

The Friday before last, I was issued a challenge that I could not resist. During a seminal discussion at the African Leadership Academy, we were challenged to give up social media until Monday morning. Well, not exactly, as the challenge was split into four parts. Level 1, no FaceBook, level 2, no FaceBook or Instagram, level 3, no social media, and Level 4 no tech whatsoever. The challenge was to make us realize that we’re never truly alone, even if we’re physically alone. What with all your friends at your fingertips, it’s easy to reach out to them during any situation, whether you’re bored or down. And that puts us in a state of disconnect…from ourselves. We don’t truly know what it is to be alone, and so when we are alone, we equate it to loneliness. We panic, we fidget, and finally reach for the closest piece of tech to help lull us into calm.

But being alone, does not mean being lonely. I for one did the level two challenge, including in it Snapchat and twitter, and even 9gag. In the end, I was incredibly surprised at how little I needed my phone during the three days of the challenge. Being a huge geek, and very tech savvy, I thought I would break down within 5 hours of waking up the next day. However, I was able to go through the weekend with barely a hitch. Looking back on it, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Growing up, I was the type of kid who would immerse himself in a novel for hours on end, and growing up, even sleeping at 3am because of it. Whenever I was actually free, and not engulfed in the hustle and bustle of a busy life, I cherished the opportunity to be alone, and with my thoughts. No doubt many people found it utterly strange, but it was a solace for me.

I think a little time for reflection is important in today’s world. To just…disconnect for a bit. Once you’re free from all the background noise, you might be alarmed at the peace, and the clarity of your thoughts…and I don’t think that’s so bad.

My Religion

To put it quite simply, Music, is my religion.  Jimi Hendrix, quite possibly the greatest musician, if not guitarist, of all time, said the same thing. Many will call it blasphemy. Let them call it what they will. I am polygamous, and music is but one of the aspects of my Goddess, who takes the name Art. It was nearly a requirement growing up to be well cultured. That meant reading a copious amount of books, being at least simply versed in painters and artists. This foundation eventually led me on a road of discovery that I am more than happy to still be on.

Growing up with very few role model figures, I was actually left to my own devices. A starting point for music was actually old school hip-hop, mainly consisting of Cypress Hill and 2Pac as well as 50 Cent and Eminem. I wasn’t too into music at the time so I became familiarised with all the greatest Billboard hits from 2003-2005. My mother and her siblings were heavy advocates of much older music, mainly UB40 and Michael Jackson amongst many others. As such, I can comfortably say that I can sing along to Kingston Town and Red Red Wine.

Another thing to note was that I was being slowly influenced to adopt Gospel Music as my staple genre of music. That attempt failed miserably for numerous reasons I’m not quite sure I understand, even now. It is possible that it never reached me on a very emotional level. It was just something to listen to because my mother heaved it on me. I never grew an attachment to it, and that fact still remain

By the time I was seven though, I had become acquainted to rock music, and it was simply love. One might be appalled to find their child listening to System of a Down, Korn, Slipknot and the oh-so-dreaded Marilyn Manson, however these musicians connected with me in a way no other musician had. The raw emotion and nature of the lyrics gave me something to hold onto. A rebellious nonconformity and an open mindedness, as well as a path to pure emotion. As of now I am a lover of music who will as gladly listen to Beethoven’s Fur Elise as I would to as I would to Tyler the Creator’s Tron Cat. However rock is an integral part of me that I will never simply hand over. It doesn’t apply to everyone as it did to me, but I could look past the screaming and harsh instruments and find a surprisingly harmonious cacophony of sounds that in the end preached a much deeper message. Why, you need only listen to Snuff by Slipknot, or Toxicity by System of a Down.

From this rather bland explanation, it still doesn’t seem to account for my taking of Music as a “religion”. But to me, it makes more than perfect sense. You see, Music doesn’t judge, nor does it tell you how to dress or how to act. It makes you feel better about being you. And yes, music may influence you to act, or dress, or be a certain way. But isn’t that a trait of something powerful, as only something powerful can inspire someone to change so much. Music is healing and inspiration. It’s a gateway to the soul and a glimpse of the world. It inspires terror as much as it does reverence. It is the thing which gets me through each day and has kept me alive this long. Such is the power of music to me.

That isn’t to say that music is my only tether. I have fallen into philosophy and art. Goya’s prints show me the fragility of life and Aristotle taught me just a few virtues. Poetry has flooded my mind with beauty and images of war and destruction, and love. Literature, has led me to live a thousand lives, whilst children’s books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Harry Potter series have perhaps taught me more about life than 12 years of school has.  I am a dreamer, and more than half of my waking days are spent exploring deep ocean trenches or mountain caves. Drinking wine with satyrs or pushing back a horde of goblin invaders.

I will never regret my choices on these points. I am as dependent on the arts as the earth is of the sun. And I don’t think that’s so bad. I will always have an ever changing source of wisdom, and laughter. And it may not be a doctrine followed by millions of others around the world, but it is my choice. And if I could go back, I would only recommend Epicurus to myself much earlier.