Every generation has its distinction despite overlapping with other generations. The young of all ages act feisty and aggressive compared to their parents and grandparents, who have more life experiences than their underlings in their teens and 20s. However, Generation Z, having been raised in a digital world since they were in diapers, is shaping their culture in ways that appear excessively weird to the rest of us and challenging to understand.
As a mom of two Gen Z teens, I applaud their technological finesse, but I hope they put it to use better as they mature. Gen Z trends cross the line on weirdness in many ways that are challenging to understand.
1. Filming Everything
Although many people record things to post images online, Gen Z (Zoomers) must film everything to chronicle their daily lives and share photos and videos indiscriminately with the world. They ignore the potential downside of doing so without asking others for permission who may not seek the same attention and may hurt the feelings of others. One person was particularly upset about someone else posting her in a blackout drinking stage for fear of her boss seeing her that way. Gen Zs continue to make memories of it all despite employers having used such images against them.
2. Recording Themselves For Social Media
Gen Z is known for documenting themselves and posting them on social media. However, this practice has become extreme when taking selfies on shaky ledges or dangerous stunts to get the best photo of themselves to post online, with sometimes tragic consequences.
One person who worked at an accident reconstruction engineering firm analyzed a horrific accident in which a guy in his 20s died when driving off the road at night in the rain. The driver narrated his story on a SNAP video, showing that his speedometer was at 100+ mph while he bragged that he was going fast while drunk. The thrill of making these sinful videos for many to watch online widely is sadder than merely weird. Others shared similar intended “accidents” that reflect wasted lives as becoming too familiar.
3. The Glamorization of Mental Illness
Prior generations tended to hide mental illness as an undesirable condition. In recent decades, mental illness is no longer stigmatized as it once was and has positively enabled those needing essential treatment. That’s a significant trend. However, Gen Z has gone too far as to romanticize mental illness by self-diagnosing their symptoms with labels, saying they have ADHD, OCD, autism, bipolar, schizophrenia, or calling something a disorder.
Someone shared, “I see it on dating apps all the time when every other bio puts “going to therapy” as a green flag. That should be normalized, but mental health practices are becoming a new form of virtue signaling.” Several mental health professionals commented that this behavior is widespread and confounds them as to why anyone would want these severe illnesses, especially without symptoms.
4. Going Viral
This trend may resemble previous generations like Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. Some boomers and Gen X sought to be contestants on TV shows or at least be part of the audience for live performances. These reality shows were only called later in the 1990s to 2000s.
A person online wrote, “One of my greatest fears is being involved in a viral video in any capacity, but for so many Zoomers, that’s their number 1 goal.” That fear is legitimate, as several people chime in about getting fired or knowing someone who did TikTok videos that went too far. Gen Zs’ obsession with their videos going viral on Instagram or TikTok coincides with their significant attention to stand out. Financial motivation may be one of their reasons for having trendy videos so they can sell viral video rights to licensing companies.
5. Inviting Crime by Posting Their Whereabouts
Constantly on their phones, Gen Zs need to be more concerned about their privacy. They often broadcast where they are and going, especially when vacationing with friends and family. It sounds pleasant and relatively harmless, but it is not always. Technology provides so many details of our whereabouts that those who steal cars and commit burglaries can benefit from our openness and sharing. Telegraphing that you won’t be back with your family until Sunday night, give those who are criminally oriented to commit their crimes.
6. Not Driving
Turning 16 and getting a driver’s license was a big deal. A recent study confirms that Gen Zers lack interest in driving. One parent said, “The world is not the same. My sixteen-year-old is not motivated to drive, and I’m not motivated to make him.” The statistics show the drop to 25% of teens having licenses in 2020 compared to 43% licensed in 1997 could be because the availability of ride-sharing apps like Uber fills their needs.
7. Not Being Present in the Moment
Questioning Gen Z’s obsession with their phones and social media is not new. However, they want to avoid being present in the moment to enjoy time alone and off their phones. One admitted that he can’t let go of his phone, posting or viewing videos because he doesn’t want to be alone with his thoughts. His fears of boredom are significant to the point that he may have a bad case of FOMO. However, disconnecting from what is happening now may eliminate your ability to fix something that bothers you and could expand into a bigger problem.
8. Those Silent Videos
Some commented that Gen Zers send videos without words, like “Using Snapchat to text message using pictures of their foreheads and the ceiling.” One person bravely explained this phenomenon, saying, “Everyone I know who participates in this is doing so to keep in touch with people you otherwise would have no reason to and have nothing to say to. It’s a half-second behavior that you can send to someone who may be anywhere on the planet that you haven’t forgotten about them, and it’s nice to have when you live in areas far away from your friends.”
Another popular theme for Gen Z girls is to record themselves crying over bad makeup or clothes that don’t look good on them and posting these vulnerabilities on social media. Many commented about this, saying that we all have our bad days and we need to get over them ourselves without publicizing it.
9. Overly Judgmental
Some people online referred to Gen Z as excessively judgmental for their young age. One said, “The weird duality of being knives-out critical over other people’s missteps or ignorance (though not intentional malice) while also being hypersensitive and incapable of taking constructive criticism and guidance.” Another jumped on, saying, ” They’re so vitriolic and aggressive to other people that anything they do has to be ironclad to protect from the kind of aggression they give to others.”
Others came to the defense of the Zoomers, thinking that older generations had similar attitudes, with one commenting, “I do think this is like 70% a regular teen problem. It’s easier to happen in mass numbers with social media.” I agree with this assessment, recognizing technology has provided them with larger audiences, which can be hurtful in one-to-one conversations.
It’s not unusual for young kids to engage in pranks for fun. However, when pranking rises to a possible misdemeanor or felony charge, those are serious consequences. A few people shared instances where things went awry. One shared, “I’ve seen one that regularly goes into Home Depot and pretends to be an employee and then films the actual employees when they overreact with customers. The employee was trying to get through his workday, as he didn’t want to get caught on film, so his boss would fire him.”
Someone shared another situation where Prankee (the one being pranked) was charged for “Attacking a kid who was ‘pretending to steal his luggage as a prank. The prankee grabbed the kid by the hair, probably going overboard in anger. A crowd gathered to defend the kid.” This situation crossed the line beyond pranks being fun. They are sometimes harmful nuisances that flood the Internet.
11. Broccoli Haircut
The online forum was flooded with male hairstyles, some of which have been banned by some schools. The ‘Broccoli Haircut’ is sometimes called the zoomer perm or the bird’s nest. The hairdo features a short haircut around the ears, while the top of the head carries the hair’s curls, height, and weight. It has staying power as it’s a versatile hairstyle. Another popular one is called ‘Meet me at McDonald’s’ and features shaved sides and a long tousled top with a floppy fringe. Parents and teachers hate that cut.
12. Labeling Everything
There is a tendency among Gen Z to use labels to define and categorize people by their likes and dislikes, preferences, attitudes, religions, and sexual orientation. One person said, “Millennials fought a crusade to do away with labels. You’re a person and can do whatever you want and don’t need to be labeled.” However, Gen Z seems set on labeling everything with “as many labels as possible, and you must abide by what your labels say.”
There was agreement about several people sharing thoughts online that Gen Z categorizes people through labels that describe and identify themselves. This poses problems for young people to limit their ability to adapt to this broad world. Say “No” to labeling.
13. No Capitalization or Punctuation
Gen Z seems to be introducing a different and informal writing style for capitalization and punctuation, changing how people have been writing for a long time. Since they have been texting practically since wearing diapers, they have “been chill” to get their messages out quickly and easily, as one said online. When writing on a computer, they type only in all lowercase, saving more than proper capitalization.
The same goes for proper punctuation requiring punctuation, using commas and periods, but Gen Z prefers being casual and ignoring punctuation that may slow them done. However, as one said, there may be another reason: “Proper punctuation in text messages is being seen as aggressive or rude.”
14. Overdoing “Inspirational Videos”
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Helping those in need or being homeless is a generous act worthy of praise. ‘Inspirational’ videos are all over social media showing people giving money to homeless people or buying a teacher a gift to highlight their good deeds. One online person said, “The act itself is good, but the need to broadcast that act is selfish. The recipient usually isn’t consulted about being the subject of Internet pity.” It may be disrespectful and shows that the people doing it have zero regard for the human dignity of those they are trying to help. In Judaism and other religions, there is a hierarchy of ways to do charitable acts, and deliberately making sure everyone knows it was you is the lowest on that list.
There has been increased micro-labeling, a characteristic significantly associated with Gen Zs. Micro-labels are specific labels that fall under or overlap with broader terms. It often comes up with fashion and using the word “aesthetic” or discovering new aesthetics. Gen Z may distort aesthetics, which typically means appreciating beautiful things. One pointed out that some people pick one aesthetic, preferring the label of “earthy black girl,” and limit their lifestyle around designing their room and fashion by wearing only earth tones. One such label is a core aesthetic.
One person explained that their differences are minuscule, but some videos on TikTok tend to exaggerate their definitions. One person tried to explain “clean girl” and “vanilla girl” as examples of minimalism. Another said “clean girl” could be broader, including more products. After reading the online comments, I said, “This is a weird discussion.”
16. Texting Instead of Communicating By Phone
Gen Zers tend to prefer texting to talking on the phone with anyone. They blame the spam calls as reasons for many needing to answer their phones so that they would chat through texts. It’s a symptom of the times that many people agree that they only call or answer their phones when it concerns a business rather than a personal call. I wouldn’t say I like answering the phone if I don’t recognize the number, and I prefer to text people personally.
17. Unhealthy Habits Like Vaping
The use of vaping began as a legitimate way to quit smoking. One woman who successfully quit cigarettes via vaping thought it was “bizarre for Gen Z willingly to take up vaping, overcome by the marketing power of fruit flavors and colorful plastic devices.” According to another commenter, vaping may be more desirable for Gen Z than previous generations because they grew up with parents less likely to smoke cigarettes after the decades-long public health campaign. Instead of smoking cigarettes or vaping, consider eating fruit.
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This article was produced and syndicated by The Cents of Money.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.