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GEN Z VS MILLENNIALS: THE CULTURE WARS

“Millennials will attack you if you disrespect their Harry Potter house.”

A culture war, of sorts, has begun.

An objectively hilarious dialogue between Gen Z and Millennials has emerged from TikTok over the last week. The younger generation has been criticising traits and habits of the older cohort that they cannot empathise with. This 52INSIGHTS gives the down-low on what’s being said in the ‘war’ between Gen Z and Millennials, and how young people are responding to it.

GEN Z SLAG MILLENNIALS ON TIKTOK

“They be like 34 talking about “i’m a hufflepuff” like grow up and do a line of coke already”

It all started on TikTok, where young creators got into a conversation about funny traits that are unique Millennial. Some of the comments express light despair at their behaviour and ask for Millennials to be ‘cancelled.’

This Tweet captures some of the conversation. Generally, Gen Z are slagging Millennials for:

  • Their Harry Potter obsession / fandom. (@mayalepa explained that she didn’t want to be associated with people who “think that Harry Potter movies are a personality trait”).
  • Their drinking habits. (All they do is drink wine, post cringy ’90s kid’ meme, talk about tech start-up and lie.”)
  • 90’s nostalgia (eg. Friends).
  • Language (eg. saying ‘doggo’ or ‘adulting’, and using hashtags like #avocadotoast or #jason)

Since this went viral, more young people in the Gen Z cohort are stepping into invitation to give their two cents on Millennials.

They grow a basic thing, like a fruit or vegetable, and they’re like, "wow, I didn’t kill it". They’ll spend the whole day fantasising about that fruit or vegetable. My sister grew beetroot and she’s really happy about it – I don’t really understand it.” Hadi, 16, London

Millennials moan a lot and don’t do anything. You find 16-17 year olds on TikTok selling their creativity, whereas I feel millennials are obsessed with a traditional nine to five job because that's the only way to get job security. They’re obsessed with job security.” Heba, 23, Nottingham

The flowing conversation has revealed a fatigue in younger generations over the fact that ‘boomers’ and older people might not recognise the idiosyncrasies or the differences between the cohorts - simply framing them all as the ‘younger’ generation.

THE MILLENNIAL RESPONSE

In response to Gen Z’s claims, there has been a range of responses from older ‘Millennial’ social media users; some have found it funny, while others got mad. As Vice puts it “After years of being called snowflakes by oil-loving, warmongering boomers and living through multiple economic recessions – it’s safe to say millennials haven’t had it easy.”

Many are finding it insightful and surprising to uncover these opinions - lamenting the fact too that they hadn’t a chance to do this to others -

“What the hell? I was looking forward to being old enough to complain about the next generation and suddenly it has skipped us and we are getting it from both sides. I feel cheated.” @Dunedan

Some are especially sour at the accusation of being entitled -

“Gen Z are in for a rude awakening. If Millennials are finding it impossible to own houses and hold down grown up jobs, it won’t get any better for the next generations.” @MaryTracy

For the most part, those at the brunt of the joke are relatively quick to admit that it only hurts because Gen Z are not wrong -

“To be fair, if I told my 20 year old self that I was waking up early so my yeast doesn't have a conniption he would tell me where to go pretty fast.” Neal, 29, Ireland

COMMON TRAITS & SYNERGIES

In general, it's kind of taken for granted that every generation will be critical of the people that came before. There is admission, however, that there are crucial points of synergy intersection between Gen Z and Millennials right now - they both share a strong disillusionment with older generations, especially in the context of social justice and the desire for change.

“I find that there is often an unnecessary amount of gatekeeping/definition whining on just what counts as a Millennial and what makes someone a Gen Z and a lot of the time I find it utterly superfluous. I don't know if there's a fundamentally huge difference between younger Millennials and older Gen Z kids. In my experience I've seen plenty of Millennials who are more active and more in the know about current trends and practices than I am. There isn't necessarily a massive disconnect between their senses of humour for example. The really big difference I think, between Gen Z and Millennials is the root of their shared disillusionment. Both generations are suitably disillusioned with older generations' promises of a steady future with good political leadership. For me, the moment came upon seeing how little environmental action was happening but for others it could be anything from the knowledge of how skewed wealth distribution is, to the continued racial violence.” Grace, 19, Ireland

BRAND TAKEOUTS

  • If targeting distinct youth audiences (under 25’s versus over) there are distinct differences overall.
  • If tapping into a broader youth cohort (16-35 years) then recognise their shared interest in social justice and their desire for control, comfort and stability. And, never underestimate the power of humour, rooted in Internet culture.
  • And of course, never forget the golden rule - young people prefer to be seen as an individual first.

See also

2020 TIME - PART 1: GEN ALPHA
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