BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The rise and fall of terrorism. The increasing threat of climate change. The #MeToo movement. Women's Marches, LGBTQ+, and Black Lives Matter movements. These are just some of the defining events in Generation Z's existence.
To truly understand the reason for this generation’s fiery spirit and the desire to see a change, one must be aware of the society they grew up in.
The new age of technology connected Generation Z from the minute they were born. They grew up in the social media age. With the world at their fingertips, information from all sources is extremely accessible.
Junior Alyssa Pradhan has a passion for social justice and a desire to make real change in the world. She thinks that the access to social media is helpful in giving this generation a voice to stand up for what they believe in.
“Since we have so many media platforms on our phones, we can't help but see the prominent political events, issues, beliefs, right before our eyes. And when we see things we identify with or things that we are against, we are prompted and intrigued to know more. This whole occurrence leads to our further engagement with politics,” Pradhan said.
Social media has become a political platform for many students. Many learned of local protests or used their social media accounts to post photos of their participation in the protests in the summer of 2020 and recent Stop Asian Hate protests.
Junior Kiana Robinson used her social media presence to share fliers about the Black Lives Matter protests in Berkeley Heights and New Providence and posted about the speeches she heard at those events.
Robinson said, ”Going to protests shows people actually taking action to make a change, not just reposting something that they haven't even read on their Instagram story and calling it a day.”
The local Berkeley Heights protest allowed many students to be able to show their support for their community. Junior Sarah Davey said, “I went to the Black Lives Matter protest in Berkeley Heights because I am vividly aware of the racism in this country. It felt very uniting. Protests are all about numbers; the more that go the better outcome it has.”
Other students, like sophomore Elizabeth Connelly, strive to be a part of the modern movements as decisions are being made about their future.
“I've attended a couple of protests. I am a part of the Sunrise Movement, which is a youth led environmental activism organization. I volunteered a bunch during the election season, typically it includes phone and text banking,” Connelly said.
Social media gives the option for young people to comment publicly as well. Many members of Generation Z use the commenting feature to express their opinions or react to someone else’s post. But people’s views don’t always engage all the social media community.
Noticing a pattern, junior Jayden Riggi said, “On Tik Tok and Instagram people sometimes even block or unfollow someone based on their political opinion, which is crazy.”
Many students are becoming more aware of the faults in society through their friends and personal experiences. Many times the desire for change comes from seeing people close to them struggle in society.
“I don’t like seeing my friends and peers being oppressed by traditional ideals that the world has blindly followed and I think that using my voice can change that,” junior Abby Beigel said.
The generation is now feeling a responsibility to take action through whatever means possible. Pradhan said, “I used to think that politics didn't matter because it wouldn't do anything, but now I realize that the lack of doing anything was the problem. Change needs to happen, and even if I'm just a teenage girl who already has a lot on her plate, I have to do my part in creating a just and inclusive world that everyone has deserved since the beginning of time.”
This impressionable generation is being informed of the truth regarding the government and the pain that the “other America” has experienced for so long.
Senior Connor Splaine said, “This means the public will be able to make better decisions when it comes to voting for representatives. On the other hand, the public can become extremely divided and believe that if you are not with them, you are against them.”
Generation Z is the future politicians, policymakers, and voters. This rising generation will be the change society needs.