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The generational debate has been around for centuries.
Each generation believes they’ve got it better or worse than the last.
But in today’s digital age, where generational traits are broadcasted and memed to oblivion, the playful banter between generations is more visible than ever.
Particularly, the dynamic between Gen Z and other generations is fascinating, entertaining, and sometimes maddening.
While the following list is written with a touch of humor and light-heartedness, it’s hard to deny some of these behaviors haven’t led to a facepalm or two from older folks.
Here are seven things Gen Z does that drive millennials, boomers, and Gen Xers absolutely bonkers.
#1. Embracing the Aesthetic Lifestyle
While millennials were busy adjusting the filters on their Instagram posts, Gen Z took the concept of living for the ‘aesthetic’ to a new level.
From retro-inspired bedroom designs to meticulously crafted Instagram feeds, this generation knows how to make everything look picture-perfect.
Sometimes, it feels too orchestrated for millennials who once championed the candid snap.
#2. Overuse of the Sparkles Emoji for Emphasis
The sparkles emoji has been around for a while, but Gen Z has increased its usage.
While millennials might sprinkle it in occasionally for some added pizzazz, Gen Z uses it for just about everything, leading to serious eye rolls from the older crowd.
#3. Dancing Anytime, Anywhere
TikTok has given rise to a new generation of dancers.
And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with breaking into dance, the sheer randomness of it has left many boomers perplexed.
Gone are the days of ‘Save the Last Dance.’
Now, it’s all about capturing that 15-second dance routine in the middle of a grocery aisle.
#4. Middle Part Rebellion
Remember the days when a side part was the epitome of style?
Apparently, Gen Z didn’t get the memo.
The push for the middle part, especially on platforms like TikTok, has many millennials feeling attacked.
Their defense of the side part isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s about identity.
That seemingly innocuous shift in hair alignment became an unintentional generational boundary.
#5. Documenting Emotional Breakdowns
It’s essential to be open about mental health, but the trend of recording and sharing raw emotional breakdowns concerns many in other generations.
Is it a genuine cry for help, a call for attention, or just the modern way of processing emotions?
Watching these videos, Gen Xers often find themselves torn between wanting to offer a comforting word and pondering the ethics of such public vulnerability.
#6. The Rebranding of Classics
Referring to beloved yoga pants as “flare leggings” is almost sacrilegious to millennials.
Similarly, laying claim to the emo culture as if millennials weren’t its founding fathers and mothers is another point of contention.
It’s not about ownership but about honoring the origins.
Change is inevitable, and every generation reshapes culture, but sometimes millennials wish Gen Z would tread a tad more lightly on their nostalgic toes.
#7. The Quest for Virality
Gen Z’s obsession with going viral is a phenomenon that often puzzles boomers.
While both generations are digitally savvy, Gen Z seems to be constantly searching for the next big trend or challenge to earn them their 15 minutes (or 15 seconds) of fame on platforms like TikTok.
Yet, this chase for virality also hints at the pressure they face in a digital world where relevance is fleeting.
#8. The Resurgence of Retro
Millennials watched in amused confusion as Gen Z brought back trends from the 90s and early 2000s: bucket hats, platform shoes, and tiny sunglasses.
It’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane for millennials but also a reminder that fashion is cyclical.
And while it’s endearing to see these styles get a modern twist, millennials can’t help but chuckle at their younger counterparts’ newfound discoveries.
#9. Abbreviation Nation
Let’s be honest: every generation loves a good shorthand.
While millennials thought they had the upper hand with ‘TTYL’ (talk to you later), Gen Z has come out with an entire arsenal of acronyms that might make anyone pre-1995 scratch their heads.
Dive into their world, and “IYKYK” (If You Know You Know) is merely the beginning of the fun.
And when they say “smh” (shaking my head), it’s less about the head movement and more like an inside joke about the world’s latest shenanigans.
#10. Oversharing and Under-sharing Paradox
Gen Z is the most open generation, documenting their lives on social media and the most private, using platforms like Snapchat, where messages disappear, and Finstas (Fake Instagram accounts) for their more “real” content.
This paradoxical approach to sharing has left many older adults trying to catch up.
#11. Cancel Culture
While accountability is essential, the speed and severity with which Gen Z cancels celebrities, brands, or even their peers can be jarring for others.
The dialogue about accountability versus ‘canceling’ continues to be a topic of intergenerational debate.
Often, the lines blur between genuine concern and bandwagon criticism, leaving no room for growth or understanding.
#12. Label Evolution
The way Gen Z embraces and expands upon labels, especially in gender and sexuality, is commendable and a learning curve for others.
While older adults were pivotal in pushing for acceptance, Gen Z is redefining the boundaries.
This constant evolution speaks to a broader understanding of identity, encouraging society to be more reflective and accepting.
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