The Zuper Generation: Generation Z

27 07 2011

Generation Z: Zuperman! photo from comboutique.com

There’s been a lot said about  Generation X and Generation Y.

But what about my generation – Generation Z? We’re quietly lurking in the background, growing, maturing, absorbing.

Who are the Generation Z-ers? In general, it includes people born as early as 1991 to as late as 2001. I myself am born in 1994 – kind of smack bang in the middle.

What defines us? What do we do? What does the future hold for Generation Z?

Here are some of my observations…

Gen Z are growing up with the products produced by the genius of Gen Y. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Youtube…you name it. Generation Y programming geniuses cooked up these services, and us Generation Z are growing up with it. We live by their technology – we’re not quite yet old enough to come up with our own, so at the moment, I like to think of my generation as ‘absorbing’ the brain juice of Gen Y.

Learning to brand ourselves on the web. Most of us are still too young to think about our ‘web image’, ‘web presence’ and ‘personal brand’ as yet, but I don’t think it’s ever too early to start. We’re born into a digital era,  into globalisation and a technological revolution. Every one of our peers is on the web – so how best to stand out? Stake your own claim to the web, I’d say.

I’m working as an intern at the moment, currently involved in helping to organise TEDxWanChai. At a meeting yesterday to sort out personnel, I was struck by how important it is to have a strong web presence. A lot of it went like this:

“OK, we need a photographer.”

“I know a photographer called Mr. XYZ”

“Google him”.

Quick Google search. Website looks good? Strong web image? Professional personal brand? Hired.

So that’s how important it is. The Web is going to be where people find us now. Not the yellow pages or what not, but Google and Twitter and Facebook and your website. So our web presence needs to look good, because it’s like our second CV. And I believe that if I want to get ahead of my fellow Generation Z-ers, then I need to take full advantage of this fact.

Ask a fish to describe what water feels like – they can’t. In the same way, because Generation Z have grown up surrounded by all this new technology, we can’t really describe how it feels like either. It’s in us. It’s part of us. But herein lies the danger.

As much as online social networking, communicating and the like are all the hype, I think it’s important that we remind ourselves of our pre-Internet roots. Physical social contact. Actually talking to someone face to face. Physical, literal word of mouth. Using social media to leverage our web image is important, but I also believe that Generation Z cannot afford to forget the physical side of things.

We’ve got the power. We can do things for ourselves because we have the power to. We can start our own Twitter campaign, launch our own initiative and garner support on Facebook. The story’s the same on YouTube. Teenagers like iTr3vor and meganheartsmakeup have tens of thousands of people watching their videos. They grow up with a voice in a way that our predecessors never have.

We’re growing up with the power and we will learn to harness that power.

To wrap up: working micro, thinking macro.

It might be true that Generation Z’s attention spans are notoriously short. Yes, we do read and write and consume in micro chunks: 140 character tweets, short status updates, quick and snappy videos. We’re working on a micro scale. 

At the same time though, we’re thinking on a macro scale. Because of the convenience of it all, we can develop a real voice on the Web and really expand beyond just our own circle of friends. There’s the possibility – in fact, it is already a reality for many – to connect with the rest of the world and really promote our own initiatives.

Generation Z ? Generation Zuper.

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4 responses

27 07 2011
Anna

Brilliant article… one of the best I’ve read! Great points!
We definitely have the power.
Technology’s certainly facilitated the smashing of barriers… I’d like to think that Gen-Zs like us have a somewhat diminished concept of racial and cultural differences, as we all sort of inhabit a homogeneous webscape, sharing the same memes. Though, of course, cultural identity is and will probably always be strong.
I wonder what’s applicable to the other side – the ‘third world’ – of Gen Z, although I’d bet they will have been exposed to at least some form of technology: the mobile phone is ubiquitous.

27 07 2011
marykmhui

Thanks Anna!
Yes, I agree – cultural identity will probably always be strong. Which is a good thing, of course, because we all need to know and appreciate our cultural/ethnic roots etc. Theoretically, the web should be facilitating more open discussion but I think the reality is that with search engines being increasingly ‘smarter’, they are feeding us links/sites/info that essentially reflect our own views, rather than feeding us sites that oppose our views. It’s quite paradoxical really – on one hand technology is supposed to smash barriers, yet on the other hand it may well be making us more narrow minded and bigoted!
Hm, I wonder how mobile phone technology is influencing our fellow Gen Zs’ in the ‘third world’? I remember reading that in Kenya paying for groceries/phone bills is increasingly being carried out on phones, making it easier for money to flow. And various economists have also written about mobile phones offering farmers/fishermen with up to date information on where/when best to sell their produce. All very interesting stuff!

28 07 2011
Benson Chiu

Generation Z also got resources.

29 07 2011
Benny CHIU

What kind of resources? Money? parents’ guidance?

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