I was struck last night by how articulate and ballsy the high school kids from Parkland, Florida were at CNN’s Town Hall about gun reform. They had the proper mix of respect for their elders, disgust at the lack of action on the part of elected officials, and passion about their own safety and circumstances.
It won’t be long before the country is theirs. And that, to me, is a very encouraging thing.
I tend not to go in for stereotypes about generations because in the long run every generation gets married, has kids, buys houses, gets fat and then focuses on their own self-interest until they die. The pace at which they do these things changes, but the lifecycle really doesn’t. My friends have already become renditions of their parents, even if they don’t know it.
But I think there’s something unique about Generation Z that’s worth pointing out.
This is the first generation, perhaps in history, where their parents are constantly asking them how to do things. Computer things, internet things, phone things, wifi things, messaging things, spreadsheet things, coding things. Never before has one generation been so fluently skilled in the most important things and been put in a position where they have to help and teach their parents.
I was born in ’77 and grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. My parents didn’t need to know a goddamn thing from me. I’m trying to picture my dad asking me how to do something when I was 15 years old and I’m laughing. These days, that’s the norm – 15 year olds across America are routinely showing their parents how the new world works and getting them up to speed on the technology that they were born with, and their parents weren’t.
Of course, I’m generalizing, there are obviously tech savvy Boomers and Xers, but in the aggregate, they’ve got all the experience in the world and very little of the abilities that actually matter. This probably explains the poise and confidence of last night’s teenage speakers. They walk into a room like that fully aware of their power thanks to a comfort with technology and the social media savvy that will be necessary as they build their own movements.
They don’t need our help or permission. We might, in fact, need theirs.
You can try to resist them, but they’re going to keep coming and taking over, like it or not. It’ll be their country soon enough. Best idea is to side with the seeds.