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Gen Z vs Millennials, Five Things That Set Them Apart

Young people texting on smartphones using thumbs
Gen Zs vs Millennials, Five Things That Makes them Different. Credit: Tomwsulcer/ Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0

Time is flying, and the oldest Gen Zs, who are now between 22 and 23 years of age. Feeling old yet?

The problem is, nearly everyone groups them with Millennials in one huge category called “young people.”

In reality, Millennials and Gen Zs are quite different.

The Millennial generation, or Generation Y, includes those born between 1982 and 2000. The oldest Millennials are now forty. Their generation witnessed the tech explosion, which included the commercialization of the internet and mobile phone, the introduction of the laptop, the iPhone and the iPod, and the early launch of social media platforms, such as Facebook and MySpace.

Gen Z
Generation Z includes those born between 2001 and 2019. The oldest ones have now graduated university. People of this generation were not alive prior to the explosion of the internet or social media, and their upbringing is defined by world division, social unrest, a global pandemic, the market crashing…and a lot of TikTok.

The evidently different backdrops in which these two generations grew up have contributed greatly to the clear distinction between them.

Gen Zs are Tech Natives
Millennials were born in a world without the prevalence of social media platforms and computer technology. They witnessed the evolution of this type of technology. On the other hand, Gen Zs were born and raised immersed in this technology.

This difference is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Gen Zs seem to be experts in technology to the point they need minimal management. However, on the other hand, their generation is characterized by a lack of concentration, which is deeply affected by smartphones and social media trends.

Gen Zs are more realistic

Millennials are characterized as optimistic thanks to their encouraging Baby Boomer parents and the fact that they were born and raised in more prosperity and opportunity. On the other hand, Gen Zs will be more realistic mainly thanks to the fact that they grew up in unrest.

Gen Zs are living with their parents longer than expected

Gen Zs face many difficulties, one of them being the sky-rocketing rents and inflation that characterizes the present time. The incredible high rents and the difficulty of buying has forced many Gen Zs to continue living with their parents even upon graduating from university. As a result, many of them are currently facing issues of self-reliance and an identity crisis.

In comparison, Millennials were raised to be more independent, as, at the time, society could more easily accommodate this independence. Rents were lower, and the chances of buying good property were higher.

Different Fashion Sense
Gen Zs seem to prefer a lot of throwback outfits and vintage clothing. Through their style, they tend to pay homage to the fashion trends which the Millennials grew up with. Furthermore, as they tend to be more environmentally conscious than Millennials, they seek more sustainable clothing. They also do more research on materials and conditions, such as illegal working conditions, under which their clothing was manufactured. They are more mindful about these things so to say.

Higher expectations
Millennials were born in a world in which their daily lives were characterized by dial-up internet and using phones that could only call and text. On the other hand, Gen Zs were born in a world overrun with technology.

The tech gadgets once thought to be inspiring and innovative by Millennials are now taken for granted by Gen Zs.

As a result, Gen Zs have higher expectations and thus higher demands. According to Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy at Ernst & Young, “When it doesn’t get there that fast, they think something’s wrong. They expect businesses, brands and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. It’s not about them being loyal to the business.”

young people looking in a camera
Credit: Public Domain

Gen Zs value privacy
According to a survey, 77 percent of Gen Zs would rather share private information with their pets than their friends or boss.

As Millennials grew up at a time when digital technology was just coming into life, they explored early social media platforms and thus made their thoughts, opinions, and nearly every aspect of their lives more public.

Gen Zs, on the other hand, value privacy. With safety and security on mind, they are more selective with the information they share online. For instance, the popularity of Snapchat is mainly based on the time bound content that won’t live online forever in comparison to Facebook or Twitter.

Digital Learning
Gen Zs think there are other ways of getting a good education than going to university. And judging from the massive amount of student debt Millennials are in, it comes as no surprise.

Gen Zs explore education alternatives, with some of them pursuing online courses, YouTube tutorials, or seeking jobs that offer professional training.

Diversity is a cause
Millennials were characterized as the most diverse generation in the West. While Generation Z is slightly more diverse, they are far more passionate about diversity and speaking up about it. Racism is the most common cause among Gen Zs.

Hence, there is more demand for representation and diversity in all aspects of life from the workplace to the movies and television shows. The demand for diversity by Gen Zs has led to the increase in employment of ethnic and religious minorities.

Identity confusion
As Millennials grew up in more stability, they were raised to know what they wanted in their lives. They graduated from university, settled down in one place, bought a house, married their high school sweethearts, and had children.

On the other hand, this goal of stability seems out of reach for many Gen Zs. Growing up in digital dominance, social unrest, and through a global pandemic, Gen Zs are socially confused. They tend to go through many phases, and most of them are confused about what their future might or should look like. Some of them don’t even know if they have a safe future.

Global citizens
Millennials were considered the first global generation because they were able to witness global events in real-time, and they all shared similar characteristics and values across borders. However, Gen Zs interact with their global peers with greater fluidity. As the world is becoming more and more digitized and borders shrink, Gen Zs will eventually view themselves as global citizens.

Gen Zs also tend to become more passionate about responding to global events. Some of them have used the power of their digital platforms to speak up about injustices happening elsewhere and have even managed to influence some of them.

It should be clear by now that Millenials and Gen Zs are different generations with the former being more independent and less distracted while the latter, though a distracted and confused generation, is far more socially conscious with a stronger sense of justice, safety, and privacy.

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