By Kerry Tinga
Illustration by Ariana Maralit
It is like a social experiment gone absolutely, terribly wrong, that Gen Z may unfortunately be an entire generation growing up with a confirmation bias, supported by the Internet and their search engines. In US President John F. Kennedy’s oft-quoted inaugural address, he urged his fellow Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you— ask what you can do for your country.” When he began his presidency in 1960, the US was in a Cold War with half of the world, while also consumed with a war within itself as its citizens fought for civil rights and against social injustices.
In his speech, he pushed a message that suggested that the only way to move forward and find peace would be to come together.
It is a principle that can be applied across the globe—and across generations. It is difficult and arguably unfair to group people born around the same time together in such an umbrella of a concept as “generations,” especially because of varying socio-economic conditions around the world.
Despite that, many can agree that the current youth, the so-dubbed Generation Z, have only known an interconnected, media-sensationalized, digital world that allows them access to a plethora of details on pretty much anything they may want to know about. With technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic editing, it also means that they “stumble” upon information only on topics they want to know about. Even more worrisome, they “stumble” upon only the “facts” and opinions they agree with.
It is like a social experiment gone absolutely, terribly wrong, that Gen Z may unfortunately be an entire generation growing up with a confirmation bias, supported by the Internet and their search engines.
I have written at length in defense of Gen Z, how their entitlement, desire for acceptance on all fronts, and strong sense of individualism are something that will benefit society as a whole. It means they are not afraid to dream big and work for those dreams. But any opinion piece is only as strong as how it deals with those with a different view point, not simply preaching to their already converted choice.
Looking back, perhaps I have been too lenient on my fair generation. Straddling between the age of Millennials and Generation Z, even I have to agree that the latter takes the cake when it comes to entitlement (merely from personal observation): constantly asking what their country, or company, or school, or neighborhood, or environment, or what have you, can do for them, instead of what they can do for their country, etc.
The eldest of Gen Z have begun to enter into the workforce, and the youngest of the generation are already thinking of what they want to do with their future. It is important to think about how these generations can not only co-exist in a workplace, but work harmoniously, bringing out the best in each other. Gen Z has grown up knowing so much about war, terrorism, and fear so prevalent in the world. They are a generation of warriors and fighters, but many have yet to learn that the greatest warriors and fighters know not to fight all battles that present themselves.
There is, of course, something commendable about the level of activism of Gen Z, fighting for acceptance for their individualism in every sense of the word. But beyond the acceptance of personal markers of an individual and how they identify themselves, we should all remember that a group of individuals could hardly be called a civilized society. The presence of diverging opinions is not always an opportunity to fight for a principle against injustice, but may simply be healthy debate and a learning opportunity on both sides.
‘The Kerry Diaries’ is a weekly youth column that discusses prevalent social issues and current events through a Generation Z perspective in the opinion of the author. Kerry Tinga is a feminist and contributing writer for Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. She is based in Metro Manila and can be found working at Meridian International (MINT) College.