Intergenerational culture wars are nothing new, but when it comes to the so-called feud between Gen Z and Millennials, two of the pioneering social-savvy generations, the echo chambers of cyberspace aggravate it needlessly.
As I was mindlessly scrolling through TikTok earlier this year, I came across a series of videos spreading the animosity between the two generations — something I was not even aware existed. Being the youngest of three Millennial siblings and born one month shy of 1993, I only get to encounter the post-Millennials’ culture through several peers and social media, the latter being a great deal of exposure to me as someone who works in the industry.
The internet discourse emerged in a slew of TikToks, with Gen-Zers “cancelling” Millennials by deeming their quirks and lifestyle choices uncool (think laughing emoji slander, skinny jeans hatred, and extreme distaste for the terms “doggo” and “adulting”) and Millennials being so butthurt about it and throwing their own petty clapbacks — a rather ungraceful move in my opinion, especially when these jokes aren’t meant to be taken seriously.
Granted that each generation has quirks and flaws, what’s the point of picking on another generation’s culture — especially if this mockery happens between two generations that share mostly the same values?
It’s gone so far that satirical diss tracks emerged from offended Millennials, with viral lines from TikTok user @sarahhesterross being, “Hey Gen Z you can suck it, you can’t tell me what to wear / ‘Cause I’ve been rocking this side part since you had Kermit on your underwear - so cute!”
This war — that nobody asked for — is rather “cringey,” if I may so myself. When it was brought to my consciousness that there is an apparent dispute between these side-by-side gens, I was surprised by how the two supposedly “woke-est” age groups had the energy to rag on each other. When being “woke” entails fighting hatred and discrimination wherever it rises, criticizing and insulting a certain group’s tendencies and affinities is unfitting, especially when these proclivities don’t do any harm to the other at all.
At the same time, it’s a wide-known phenomenon for generations to pit themselves against each other. We just love to point out the strange, uncommon or passé idiosyncrasies of other generations’ versus our own.
Besides the quirks mentioned above, Millennials are poked fun at for their curated Instagram feeds, avocado-on-toast addiction, and inventing the “girlboss aesthetic” — not to mention their obsession with Buzzfeed quizzes, Friends, Harry Potter, and anything ’90s-related or nostalgia-inducing. Millennials are also commonly labeled as entitled, lazy and self-absorbed.
On the other hand, non-Zoomers can be quick to point out how Gen-Zers propagate toxic cancel culture, along with how they can be strangely aggressive yet hypersensitive at the same time. This internet-raised bunch is also known as being sticklers for political correctness, having tendencies to do little dances with the aim of going viral, and for romanticizing their lives, teen culture in the 2000s, and mental illnesses.
Granted that each generation has quirks and flaws, but what’s the point of picking on another generation’s culture — especially if this mockery happens between two generations that share mostly the same values? Gen Z and Millennials have a great deal in common, as both are deeply impacted by economic downturns, political instability, a global pandemic and the climate crisis. On a planet that’s quite literally burning, I personally believe that the last thing we need to be is at each other’s throats.
When I was doing research for this piece, I unfortunately found only a few articles that discuss how great a pair Gen Z and Millennials actually are. Having experienced nothing foul or mean-spirited from my Zoomer peers (both in real life and online), I thought to myself, is this imaginary feud just fodder for writers and content creators to trigger outrage and gain traction?
Why insult or criticize what another person is wearing if it doesn’t affect you in any way at all? Why make fun of what makes people happy or feel comfortable when it’s not hurting anybody? Pointing out harmless behaviors, preferences or ways of coping in a scornful manner will only trigger issues that two of the generations are all too familiar with: self-image, insecurity and social anxiety.
Time and time again, we should be mindful of what is being fed to us on screens and discern what we truly think: do we really hate each other, or is this animosity a figment of our collective imagination propagated by attention-hungry media?
As a Millennial, I personally think Gen Z and Millennials can truly change the world for the better. When Millennials are neutral good, Gen Zs are chaotic good. While Millennials are arguing about facts and standing up for what they believe in, Gen Zs are out there wreaking havoc when injustice is served. And when Millennials’ backs are aching from early signs of old age, Gen Z will gladly take up the torches and pitchforks and obliterate the enemy.
While Millennials got the ball rolling by advocating for social change, Gen Z is still kicking that ball towards the goal. As a Millennial — and I truly believe I can speak for many — we do not claim those who bash Generation Z, especially in the way that many Boomers did to ours.
To all the Gen Zs reading this: Don’t believe the hate that the media is feeding you. There will always be differing opinions, but it doesn’t change the fact that so many of us are extremely proud and in awe of your generation.
I wish that my generation had as much progressiveness, inclusivity and diversity in our younger years as your generation does. I wish my generation was less pressured to perform to toxic and binary standards of masculinity and femininity, and it brings me so much joy to see so many of you being who you are and loving who you love. Your hilarious sense of humor, hunger for authenticity, and thirst for justice are exhilarating to see, and I am sorry you had to grow up in a world that’s been ravaged by so much greed.
You are the feral powerhouses that the world has been waiting for and I have absolute faith that your generation will set things right. Life can feel grim, dark and hopeless, but we can change the world for the better, together.