Is Generation Z bigotry-proof?
Posted On January 8, 2015
Youthful idealism. Every generation has been accused of it, but a recent commentary by Bloomsberg View contributor Leonid Bershidsky suggests that for Generation Z (or iGeneration – born after 2000) this may be a lasting state. He writes “Gen Z may be different in being genuinely bigotry-proof. It may be the first generation for which diversity is a natural concept that will not be ruined by anything older people do or say.”
This is not the main point in Bershidsky’s article, but it is what stood out when I heard him read it. Considering the younger generations’ views on gender equality, marriage equality, immigration, legalization of marijuana, and more, there is certainly something to be said for the idea of a more liberal, interconnected, and accepting generation. From a legal perspective, Generation Z is far removed from the women’s liberation and civil rights movements – their mom’s have always been free to vote and make professional choices, and while racial tensions still exist in America, the concept of separate but equal is a footnote in their history books. When you explain to an elementary school student that less than 50 years ago their friends would not have been allowed to attend the same school or sit with them at lunch, they will look at you like you lost your marbles. But is that the same as being bigotry proof? I don’t know.
What I do know is that while technology has made the world smaller and it has also made a sense of belonging even more critical. And when individuals need to belong to something they often do so by turning away from something else. Generation Z is clearly more accepting of differences that caused substantial legal and social unrest in the past. The question is will that sense of acceptance become a piece of their generational DNA or will the differentiation simply shift to something new? Today’s youth may not be separating themselves by gender or color, but while they become more diverse as a whole, there seems to be a sense of isolation occurring, perhaps as a result of living in the virtual world so extensively.