Generation Z unfairly represented

Meredith Comas, Print Editor-in-Chief

Dear Reader, 

Those who know me, as I hope you do, know I am a lover of books and rarely am able to find one that manages to squeeze out of me such a fury as to label it “not worth the word count.” 

Then there’s “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

This book is one of few managing to turn my mind over in a frenzy of directions as to what purpose it serves. Its pages are filled with bold assumptions and warnings of the “Great Untruths” that have disabled our generation. And I must say, this book seems entirely worthless in its existence except to spark controversy to prove it’s own point: “how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure.” Well, golly, that is a statement. 

While this book is written by specialists in their field and I am nowhere near trying to claim to be a First Amendment expert like Lukianoff or a social psychologist like Haidt, I would like to think that — by living as a member of Generation Z — I might be able to speak a little to our reality. And, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to offer a side of this “situation” that this book seems to have forgotten.

Gen Z is quite used to the words “failure” and “coddled,” having these words thrown at us regularly, as if we’re unaware of what the world is facing. Frankly, their effect seems minimal and mundane. Yet, I’d like to point out that it is a gross over-assumption to believe that we are blissfully moving our way through life with a phone screen gnawing at our prefrontal cortexes without a care at all. 

What Lukianoff and Haidt have failed to see is that behind “the new world of social media that has engulfed teenagers” are student activists, artists and inventors, kids leading society forward faster than current world leaders. Look to children like Greta Thunberg and the Parkland students. Are they truly “coddled failures?”

We aren’t blind or hidden from the world, we have been thrown into it — in all its ugly truth — and told “this is the world we give you,” and are harshly criticized when we look at it in horror. 

These are the “Great Untruths” of our generation — the words that tell us we are weak, that we are failures, full of hypersensitivity and microaggression. Why shouldn’t we be sensitive to the literal ash falling around us? Should we truly walk like robots lacking basic humanity? Why is microaggression our description, why not the word enraged?  Because we are enraged and that’s not an embarrassment. 

Leaders are blindly leaving our neighbors to die and yet Generation Z is “coddled?” Why; because we don’t have the time between finding ways to safeguard some form of a future to engage in — as Lukianoff and Haidt put it — “unsupervised, child-directed play?” 

I’m sorry to speak this way; it’s foreign to me and feels unkind and unempathetic — much like the words I’m writing against. But those older than us should be sorry to believe those words, for instead of being our guides, they chastise our actions. But — now I speak directly to them — where’s your action? Why is this on us?

If you want to know why my generation acts the way it does, why we fear “triggers” and need “safe spaces,” I am begging you to talk to us. If you want to know how to engage with us, not just tolerate us, talk to us. We want to be heard, so listen. You might find a genuine picture of who we are and why. 

Until I write again,

“Where’s your action?”