Personal Essay: the Self-Centeredness of Generation Z

In the age of social media, are young people more concerned with the number of likes on their Facebook posts and their number of Instagram followers than living authentically?

It’s the progressive age, and the requisite dogma is that the self is the supreme being. You are what matters, and you are the be-all and end-all of our precious Generation Z. 

Why shouldn’t this be so?

After all, our political structure is built on the concept of the self. We believe that third-parties thrive on our opinions, on updates of our lives—where we ate lunch, what we bought, the job promotion you bagged—when frankly, nobody cares. But, that doesn’t stop us from promoting our personal life. We all thrive on trending hashtags, snapchat streaks, and reaction emojis—the more the better.

We need social validation for our existence, and this is what compels us to assert ourselves in the cyber world, in the real world, in our imaginary world, where we believe our voice is heard, loud, clear, distinct and different from the millions.

But deep down, we know it’s all a mere illusion—every man is separate from one another, distant but strangely similar in essence. In the universal struggle to ‘fit in’ somewhere, somehow, to be recognized, we’ve effectively shaped ourselves to society’s stereotypes of being ‘unique.’ Becoming ‘unique’ is the propulsion that drives us.

In an effort to be distinguished and yet liked, a part of the ‘cool’ crowd, we project every little personal detail on social media.

We celebrate friendships online and have endless conversations there, but face-to-face our personality crumbles and we’re reduced to awkward silences at best. Social media is our primary driver, and we’re satisfied with this dumbed-down lifestyle, where we think only of our social media likes and our number of followers.

So we eat, sleep, shop, sing, dance, act for others. We prioritize the views, opinions of others, crave reputation, but rarely think of our own happiness. We’ve successfully made ourselves believe that our happiness comes from these things. And now we’re virtual beings instead of flesh-and-blood, living people.

Social pressure has decided the need for us to be ‘different’ and ‘accredited,’ but the paradox lies therein with this obsessive urge is what has forged us to be inherently similar in the core of our being – ‘wannabes’, cold, detached and self-centred.

This generation has the tendency to trivialize others’ issues and amplify our own and, in some cases, make a mountain out of a mole-hill. And this isn’t always a vice. It’s just the norm of today, which we keep up with little effort to break it. We’re content in the confidence that we are different, unique, and important.

Hopefully, some day – perhaps sooner rather than later, we’ll accept the brutality of the disparaging truth: the individual psyche of this generation is just a microcosm of the society in which we exist. We’ve fit perfectly to that stereotype. Now the best we can do is widen our vision as much as we can, look ahead and live our as truly ‘different’ from the rest as is possible. 

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