Gen Z is Scared: A Followup

I had a creative writing assignment due and was experiencing a dose of bone-crushing writer’s block. Worse, it was a free choice, giving me complete control over my topic of discussion. In a world without any sense of direction, having a choice is a foreign experience. While government officials impose strict measures that control every aspect of our lives, being able to express my thoughts is a paradox in disguise. 

In a pandemic world, there is little room for freedom of speech. When decisions need to be made fast to save lives and livelihoods, many opinions are often overlooked, as efficiency is prioritized. While I understand this need for speed, I also know that my generation, Gen Z, is losing faith in our contribution to this world.

Even though the pandemic shakes the very core of civilized society, I and my fellow Gen Z’s have to steady the turbulence, form a spine of our own, and become functional members of society. Accommodations and concessions will only last for so long, as we are expected to adapt and ultimately thrive. Personally, this thought scares me to the core, and, after a bit of digging, I found that my fears were grounded in reality.

I texted every Gen Z I knew  – and pretended to know – the same, straightforward question: “As a member of Gen Z, what is your biggest fear?”

Many people were caught off guard by such a thoughtful question, responding, “Give me a second to think about it.” Others just said, “I don’t know,” a sign that the answer was too ambiguous or mentally taxing to express. Some were irritated by the personal nature of such a question, and I became embarrassed by my inability to think through my actions. Maybe I had crossed the line. Texting is a very impersonal medium. Should I have added an emoji?

After their initial shock, however, the response was overwhelming. Words and feelings began pouring through like a waterfall of frustration, and I held my breath, unable to take it all in. I was expecting a sentence or two, something conjured in a second, and quickly texted back. Instead, I received essays and thesis statements – some from people I barely converse with – that opened my mind up to a generational struggle that needs to be addressed.

Gen Z is scared. That is an absolute statement without any bias or political agenda attached. We are acutely aware of the hiccuping global economy, the ruthless political battleground, and the unsustainability of human life on Earth. Feeling powerless to fix it, we freeze in fear, our heads in our hands, and our music in our ears, trying to tune out the noise of it all. Couple this existing paranoia with a global pandemic, and our generation begins to lose trust in the prospect of a stable future for ourselves and the world.

Then, I wrote. My fingers danced across the keyboard, barely able to keep up with the constant flow of thoughts and ideas. Writing about a topic that I felt at a personal level hit differently, and, after finishing, I continued honest conversations with some of these individuals. The massive texting splurge I went on for one day ultimately let me interact with a variety of minds, mindsets, and mentalities.

Does talking about our fears leave a positive impact? I believe so. Sharing our thoughts with others, even though it isn’t in-person, creates a bond held together by experience. I believe friendships are strengthened and maintained by commonality, and Gen Z as a whole has gotten much closer over our lack of control in the era of COVID.

The friends and strangers that follow me on Instagram trusted me enough to vent their frustration over text, which taught me that loved ones should be strangers: people that are not a part of our lives but should be. Reaching out to people that we do not know takes courage but is rewarding once a relationship forms. 

Our loneliness, anxiety, and powerlessness had made us wallow within our problems without ever reaching out to others. My text – to both friends and strangers – brought us all a little bit closer. I am glad that I was able to provide that voice to those who felt they were not being heard. The article I wrote for my class wasn’t just an assignment for me. Instead, it was proof of the brute force of voice – how those that let their voice echo will create something beautiful for themselves and others.  In a world with great polarization and ambiguity, I believe there is a need for compassion and empathy. If texting is the only way to share these emotions, we should be using the medium to its highest potential to ensure that people do not fall into silence.


Scholarship website

Deadline: Before February 5, 2021

Word Limit: 800

Topic: In a year with so much uncertainty, where physical, financial, and mental health have been put in jeopardy, reaching out to loved ones through a phone call, email, or text can have large and lasting positive impacts. Tell us how texting specifically has helped sustain and strengthen your relationships during the age of COVID-19. What text messages have you sent to friends, family, and loved ones during the pandemic that you believe had the most positive impact?

Featured Image


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *