Well, the first (that I’ve read anyway) of the Gen Z books is out. Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace are college faculty/administrators who have conducted surveys of their own and analyzed the Pew research data to come up with a first stab at generational characteristics of the generation born in the range of 1998-2015 (or so).
- I admire Seemiller and Grace for their data analysis, and for sticking their necks out a bit to make some attempts at characterization. Much like Strauss and Howe, they will get some stuff wrong, but these sorts of baseline studies are very useful.
- That said, there are lots of flaws in here, especially with the ways that the authors simply quote GenZers and take them at their words. As more studies come out that approach will look dated and naive, I’m guessing.
- The one generational feature they I identify that I’m really curious about is the fact that this generation (much like the Millennials before them) seems to really like their parents. I’m not sure that I trust the group that came up with this number (their website is here), but supposedly 88 percent of them are extremely close with their parents.
- That attitude seems to match what I see anecdotally, and I wonder about it. Admittedly, according to that same company my generation (the Xers) were pretty much polar opposite (29 percent of us described ourselves as close to our parents), but I still thought that an important part of becoming an adult is pushing away. That action seems nearly impossible if you are “extremely close.”
- If true, this look at their parents as mentors and friends rather than authoritarians to revolt against will have interesting implications for our social structures.
- This book is pretty rosy, so we know that the backlash will come. In that sense I admire Seemiller and Grace for starting out positive, a position that’s not always easy to take.
- I’m trying to get over my desire to rant every time I hear someone describe “kids these days” (of any generation as being technological). That’s such an easy, ridiculous label, one that ignores how much people know about what goes on under the hood, but I have to accept, I think, that it’s a label that people will use unthinkingly. To their credit, Seemiller and Grace don’t use it like that…
- Finally, I’m not sure how you write a book about this generation and never mention Snapchat.