Long Reads

Here’s Why Most of Your Preconceptions About Generation Z Are Wrong

It’s easy to judge kids these days, but you may have reason yet to believe in them.
This article is part of a series produced for Axe. To view other articles, click here.

People are prone to passing judgment on their would-be successors. It starts early. We’ve seen high school students engage in schoolyard tribalism between batches in an attempt to prove that the most senior of all is better than the lower batches. This attitude has the tendency to evolve into generational hostility as we grow older.

Don’t believe so? How many times have we shaken our heads or clicked our tongue, and mutter “Kids these days” under our breath whenever someone much younger does something we don’t approve of? We tend to look at kids-these-days with vague and mostly unfounded feelings of contempt, almost as if by impulse.

And perhaps it is an impulse. Perhaps it’s a natural a cocktail of envy, fear, and conservative trepidation served in a cycle that’s bound to repeat itself with every generation. It could be that we’re at least a little bit jealous of their youth, so thinking we know better, we tend to feel like they aren’t spending it well. We might be afraid of becoming obsolete, and that fear could metastasize into hate. We’re worried about their future, so we call them out on their mistakes.

Perhaps the uglier side of every generational divide is simply a fact of life.

But whether or not we can escape it is less the matter than whether or not we should. Isn’t it always unfair, after all, to judge the next generation so easily, and to fixate on their potential pitfalls? In our case, as millennials and other older cohorts, isn’t it unfair to judge our successors, Generation Z?

We’ve gone on about Generation Z at length. We’ve tried to define these new kids; to understand what it means to be born between the mid-nineties and the early aughts; to dissect the consequences of coming of age with the social media revolution. We’ve tried to characterize them, to discuss what people hate about them, and to stand up for them in the face of their detractors.

Passing harsh judgment on Generation Z is not only wrong—it’s futile. There is nothing to be gained from casting doubt on a generation brimming with potential. Why bother trying to levy expectations on a generation that’s fully equipped to break them all?

Generation Z is at a unique and unprecedented crossroads of human history: they sit on the brink of the information age and have already lived through the rise of a connected world. Gen Z is arguably one of the most educated generations, and the most technologically advanced by a wide and still-accelerating margin.

Generation Z continues to learn from the growing pains of this world. Their potential is limitless.

So, instead of allowing preconceived notions limit our interaction with this younger generation, let’s be more productive: work with them, give them room to grow and offer advice when you can.

They’re keen to maintain their own sense of individuality, but they have no choice but to look up to and respect older generations. They can learn only from a generation that is far more experienced than they are. And while learning is always a challenge, taking youths under your wing—and mentoring them—is an even greater feat.

With the intention of empowering Gen Z to pursue their passions and unlocking their potential, Axe held the Axe You Masterclass series.   This series of workshops was conducted by some of the most successful millennials in their respective fields—culinary, music, film, and art. The winners of each class were given the rare opportunity to collaborate with their mentors: filmmaker Gino M. Santos, street artist Jappy Agoncillo, Chef Nicco Santos of Your Local and Hey Handsome, and indie rapper Curtismith.

The winner of Chef Nicco's class got a paid internship as a chef in Hey Handsome and was eventually hired full-time. The winners of Gino’s class won a movie and scriptwriting grant; their short film will be co-produced by Gino. The winner of Jappy's class will collaborate with him on his next big artwork in historic Escolta, Manila, while the winner of Curtismith's masterclass will collaborate with him on the production of a new track.

To learn more about the Axe You Masterclass, watch this video: 

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This article was created by Summit StoryLabs in partnership with Axe.
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