Can Gen Z Save the Future From the Millennials?

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This Just Might Work

This has been kicking around in my head for a while so I thought I would put it out into the VIP universe and see how it felt. You know me, I’m a giver.

I never really paid much attention to generation labels until the last few years. I don’t know if that’s just because I don’t pay a lot of attention to much or we all weren’t really talking about it until recently. In fact, I didn’t know which generation I belonged to until recently. If I’d had to guess, I would have been wrong.

The Baby Boomers have long been fond of blaming most 21st century societal ills on the millennials. That’s mostly because the millennials are responsible for a lot of 21st century societal ills.

It had to be said.

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 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Personally, I blame the millennials for Barack Obama, and there’s no coming back from that. To me, Barack Obama is the 21st century societal ill.

Harsh, but I’m in a mood.

I have long pondered what America’s future would look like when the millennials are finally in charge. In olden times I wouldn’t have worried so much because I would have just assumed that I wasn’t going to live long in that future. Science is doing wonderful things regarding how we age, however, and I plan on being around for a very long time.

It’s a humorless future, I can assure you. Whenever there is a completely humorless cancel culture overreaction to something these days it’s a safe bet that there is a late-20’s or early-30’s millennial leading the charge. The entire generation skipped middle age and went right to “Get off my lawn!” They have all the crankiness of old age combined with the irritating entitlement mentality of being the first fully functional spawn of the participation trophy era. It’s enough to make a guy rethink living a long time.

I recently came upon something that made me start thinking about post-millennial Generation Z, which helped me to stop viewing everyone younger than myself as a spoiled, amorphous blob.


Younger people are confident in their ability to detect false information, but have little faith in older generations.

  • 69% of Gen Z students said it is somewhat or very easy for them to distinguish real news from misinformation. Half said they think it is “very difficult” for older generations.
  • Studies have found the youngest American adults are far less likely to share misinformation online than are older Americans.
  • “Young people are internet locals,” College Reaction founder Cyrus Beschloss told Axios. “Because they swim through so much content, they’re wildly savvy at spotting bogus content.”

How it works: As the first generation to grow up with social media, Gen Z has an innate understanding of how to create and move online content, which makes them less susceptible to misinformation.

  • Nearly half (46%) of college students said that they intentionally like, comment on or share content to train the algorithms to give them similar information and media.
  • Most older generations — even millennials — don’t always understand online influencer culture, the utility of hashtags or how to intentionally curate their feed.

This column is just a thought experiment, so hear me out.

My takeaway from that is that Gen Z may be more cold and calculating than their hysteria-driven, emo predecessors the millennials. Sure, they may end up being calculating and evil, but I’m willing to suspend disbelief so I can weave a tale about living my best 120-year-old life.

That’s speculation though.

I did formulate a theory about Gen Z and humor a few months ago, which I believe I shared on a podcast. My daughter is Gen Z and she’s not super snowflakey when it comes to humor. Neither are her friends or my Gen Z cousins, for that matter.

I think it’s because they grew up watching more YouTube than television.

Television comedy can’t help but be tedious and preachy anymore. That means it’s never really funny. Even cable — with the exception of a few animated series — is bad. Gen Z kids didn’t get a lot of that politicized, unfunny ick on them growing up. While everybody else was being fed garbage with a laugh track, Gen Z kids were watching YouTube stars do unspeakable things with ocelots just for laughs.

Do parents really want to know what our Gen Z kids were watching on YouTube? Of course, we don’t.

Are we willing to feel less guilty about not knowing if it means they become the generation that will tell Stephen Colbert that his political humor sucks?

That’s a win I’ll take any day.


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PJ Media Senior Columnist and Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author ofDon’t Let the Hippies ShowerandStraight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.” His columns appear twice a week.

Also VIP: The Generational Crisis Behind Cancel Culture