There is a new generational war on the horizon—and this time, it’s between millennials and gen Zers. In the last year or so, the two generational cohorts have been clashing on social media. But why would two generations, so close to each other in age, suddenly turn against one another?
Well, in case you’ve missed this, millennials and gen Z are taking it to TikTok to roast each other and point out their differences, with the hashtag #millennialvsgenz currently sitting at over 8.4 million views on TikTok. This all started within the last year and so, when gen Zers suddenly decided they do not wish to be associated with millennials anymore.
“Tired of boomers bunching gen Z and millennials together, because I personally don’t want to be associated with people who still think that Harry Potter movies are a personality trait,” states @mayalepa in a viral TikTok from this summer. The TikTok got many mixed responses, with some finding it funny—others, not so much. Since then, this generational rift has only deepened.
A lot of gen Zers on the internet think that millennials aren’t cool. And now, they are going after things that are synonymous with, or dear to the millennial generation. According to gen Z, wearing skinny jeans is no longer cool, and it makes you look old. Neither is wearing your hair in a side part, mentioning your Harry Potter house (they especially dislike it when people identify as Hufflepuff), using the words ‘doggo’ or ‘adulting’, liking coffee, Buzzfeed quizzes, and even using the 😂 emoji (🤣 this one too). Yes, even the emojis you use can define you and your social life, or so it seems.
In return, millennials are making fun of gen Z for other reasons—doing TikTok dances all day, everyday, adding sparkle emojis to their sentences for ✨emphasis✨, and taking selfies when crying (I am personally guilty of this one), to name a few.
In many ways, this generational rift is really reminiscent of the boomer versus millennial trope, and it seems like we step into a new culture-generational war every other decade or so. Remember when the fragile housing market and the fact that many young people can barely afford to live was blamed on millennials buying too much ‘smashed avocado and coffee’? Millennials were deemed as lazy, soft, and ungrateful by the older generation, whereas boomers were deemed as unempathetic, stuck in their old ways, and selfish. And neither generation has ever really found a common ground, and thus, the ‘OK Boomer’ meme was born.
It’s almost like life imitates art in this scenario. Gen Z and millennials clashing over their generational tropes really shows we have come full circle. But the thing is, unlike millennials being understandably angry about the boomer generation often trying to shift blame on issues that affect the younger generations specifically (such as the economy or climate change), us, gen Z, don’t really have any real reason to want to drift apart from the millennial generation.
In fact, as much as both gen Z and millennials may hate to admit this, there are more similarities between us than we might think. Both generational cohorts are extremely internet and tech-savvy—millennials may have spent their early years watching The Lion King off a VHS tape, and they might remember having a flip phone before having an iPhone, but just like gen Z, they spent a significant amount of their lives in the same digital age, on the same apps. We grew up watching similar movies and caring about similar causes. So much of the culture that we consumed and are still consuming intersects that it is difficult to establish such a strong difference between us.
In fact, millennials and gen Z are so close to each other in age, that there is an entire merging sub-generation between the two, called zillennials. A zillennial is typically someone born between 1994 and 2000—they may feel like they were a bit too young to relate to millennial ‘adulting’ struggles, but are made to feel like they are way too old for TikTok (16-year-olds on TikTok who refer to people over the age of 21 as ‘old’, I am looking at you). A zillennial, thus, would have strongly engaged with both cultures—you were there when skinny jeans became cool, and you embraced it. You loved using the 😂 emoji. You probably even took a Buzzfeed quiz determining your Harry Potter house. And you enjoyed laughing at how smashed avocado is the root of all our problems.
We associate so much of our identity with the generation that we come from, that it’s almost like sometimes, we make being a millennial or a gen Z our entire personality. And to some degree, that makes a lot of sense. We go through global, collective experiences that ultimately shape the trajectory of our lives—and thus, shape culture. Take the 2008 financial crisis and its impact on the millennial generation; how do you think the housing market jokes began? Similarly, for gen Zers, TikTok may have never become what it is today if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
So it’s really not fair of us to come after an entire generation who may associate so much nostalgia and love towards their cultural tropes, even if these may seem outdated. And my fellow gen Zers—we are not getting any younger either. I, for one, can not wait to be roasted by the future generation of today’s children. What will they make fun of? Our TikToks? The way we dress? We’ll have to wait and see, but it will happen without a doubt.
As a soon to be university graduate, there is an obsessiveness around me and my colleagues to graduate with accomplishments in hand—a “serious-ish” partner or a full-time job waiting for us. It’s a way to boast, that look, after these four transformative years away, I have something to show. Luckily my generation has become more inventive if these don’t come naturally (which they often don’t), and we’ve got an array of internet tools to help us focus in, just before it’s too late.
The implementation of technology in the middle of all of our essential relationships has given us some interesting results, ranging from ridiculous love stories, scary pathways for new types of crime, and just about everything in between. And it’s this strange in between that is on the rise everywhere around us.
One of the possibly weirder trends to come out of the digitisation of the tools for our wildest dreams steams from the unanticipated (and unintended) use of these applications. As Tinder and Linkedin age, the tools these platforms offer are becoming more intersected with other needs. People are getting dates off of job websites, and finding job references and job opportunities off of dating apps. In a world which is becoming increasingly competitive within the job market, the incoming workforce is constantly looking at ways to differentiate themselves when searching—whether that be in job or boyfriend hunting.
A quick Google will bring you to an array of blog posts written by recruiters and the shortage of talent that seems to be growing. One of the main alternatives is suggesting recruiters use alternate channels that aren’t as saturated, like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. You reverse the Google search, and you similarly find a large group of people, tweeting and writing about the competitiveness of dating applications, and the love stories that sprung from a simple LinkedIn message. “I used LinkedIn as a dating site for two months. If you’re into having some dirty fun with partnered professionals and are willing to play the long game, LinkedIn is your next great dating app. You can find an affair AND the possibility of a better gig.” Wrote Sarah Miller in The Bold Italic. Adding that LinkedIn profile pictures are almost always a “clear shot of someone’s face”, unlike the usual blurred, group pictures you’ll find on dating apps. And she has a point.
We are continuously learning to connect in different ways, so it’s not surprising that original business strategies for these apps are being muddled. The parallels and similarities between dating apps and networking apps are clear, and moving forward, the structures of the two will most likely becoming more intertwined. Location-based, resume flaunting, and interest sharing are both commonalities in these different worlds; both making it easier for you to find whatever it is you’re looking for. These applications are taking notice of their similarities of course, with applications such as Bumble creating Bumble Bizz, a networking tool.
The basic components of our everyday lives have slowly become more and more digitised. Food, sleep, our homes, our relationships and our jobs. Some more than others have innovated at an incredible pace. Our food channels are completely globalised and commanded at the touch of a button. We can now track our sleeping patterns, and connect almost any and every component of our homes to remotely controllable software. Arguably though, our love lives, and work lives have been most impacted, because each new technological advancement in these field appeals to our deepest desires: love and success.
Once again, the internet and all its many tools have created different paths for us to meet, lurk and interact with people around the world. Tinder, Bumble, LinkedIn—whatever the platform, it creates a (questionably) safe space for us to create our versions of success. Who cares if we can’t keep ourselves from mixing work and pleasure, as long as it works right?