I don’t spend an enormous amount of time on The Guardian’s Opinion page, but I decided to have a little look-see this morning, which is how I stumbled across an article that legitimately confused and irritated me. The piece is titled Beware the ‘beige-fluencers’, cheerleaders for a life of no surprises and it centres around the idea that gen Z have become far too fixated on the monotony of life, in turn losing all of their ambition and aspiration.
In quite harsh terms, the author stipulated that young people nowadays find far too much happiness and peace in “boring” daily routines, they shouldn’t be allowed to like candles as much as they do, and they’re ultimately heading for a doom-filled, unfulfilling, rigid, and ultimately crap life. Safe to say, I found the article to be pretty insulting, but most of all, I found it to just be completely misguided, and straight-up wrong.
This isn’t however a personal dig at the writer of the piece, it’s more so a response to millennials as a whole—a cohort of people who clearly don’t understand gen Z in the slightest. Because, if they did, they’d know that we’re one of the most ambitious, exciting, diverse, and daring generations out there (and yes, I might be biased, but I still think it’s true).
First things first, since when did taking pleasure in the little things in life mean that someone is lacking ambition or excitement? Is it that insane to think that those small trips to the coffee shop, Instagram stories of my office lunch, or hot girl walks on Sunday don’t feed me creatively or help me get through the week?
Mental health in young people is at an all-time low. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, surveys have found that approximately 42 per cent of gen Z have been diagnosed with a mental health condition—and this, of course, doesn’t even account for those who haven’t sought out a diagnosis.
The current geopolitical, cultural, and environmental state of the world right now can be incredibly debilitating for young people. It’s overwhelming at times, and so prioritising practical steps, daily routines, and creating safe spaces at home can be a massive comfort. Yes, social media can act as a crutch and keep us chained to our bedposts, but with so much upheaval and uncertainty about our futures, can anyone really blame us?
One of the other major issues I took with the piece was this particular line: “This pervasive inclination towards dullness is also reflected in young people’s taste in celebrities.” Now, while I can half-heartedly understand the problem some people might have with certain gen Zers’ obsession with former PrettyLittleThing creative director Molly Mae Hague, it’s wildly untrue to suggest that the celebrities and influencers we as a generation follow and adore are inherently bland.
Labelling an entire generation of people as boring because you’ve watched potentially one too many vlog-style TikToks is not only unfair, it’s completely unrepresentative. Gen Z are both the champions and innovators of some of the most exciting and diverse content that’s ever been produced—whether it be fashion, entertainment, politics, culture, or LGBTQIA+ representation.
I’ve never bought into this idea of a ‘generational war’. I don’t think we should pit ourselves against one another, it’s not only pretty tiring but it’s also completely pointless. At the same time, gen Z keeps on being labelled as “bland,” “lazy,” and “ungrateful” and I’m getting tired of it. If millennials want to come for us over our ruthless rejection of toxic 21st century beauty standards, fine, but don’t you dare label our lives as boring, because for a generation of 30-somethings who worshipped the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon, you don’t really have a leg to stand on, do you?