The troubled Gen Z

According to recent polls, Gen Z is more skeptical of government and pessimistic about the future than any other living generation. Maybe the pandemic that affected many in college and abruptly upended plans can be a reason? There is a sense of dejection and hopelessness. Young adults in Generation Z, those born in 1997 or after, have emerged from the pandemic feeling disillusioned and lost. They worry they will never make enough money to attain the security previous generations have achieved.

The overwhelming sense is delaying the launch into adulthood. Other obstacles are an impenetrable and expensive housing market and an education where you end up with loads of student debt with high interest rates. On top of that, the politicians in Washington DC are considering passing legislation to ban or force a sale of TikTok, a Chinese platform beloved and used by millions of young people in the U.S. Many spend hours each day on the app and use it as their main source of news.

Gen Z wonder why politicians find time to focus on this kind of issues instead of spending time on climate change, education reform, gun control, homelessness and equality and waste time and money on waging wars with an annual military budget of nearly a trillion dollars. Young Americans’ entire political memories are subsumed by intense partisanship and warnings about the looming end of everything from U.S. democracy to the planet and with the right to an abortion overturned. Dissatisfaction is pushing some young voters to third-party candidates in this year’s presidential election and causing other to ignore politics all together.

Roughly 41 million Gen Z Americas, ages 18 to 27, will be eligible to vote this year, so their voice will certainly matter. Gen Z is among the most liberal segments of the electorate, but recent polls show them favoring Biden by only a slim margin. The only one who has managed to rally young people in recent years is sadly enough Bernie Sanders, the far-left senator from Vermont. This election round there are no other alternatives to Biden and Trump, and not surprisingly, young voters feel disengaged and abandoned.

Among adults under 30, credit card and auto loan delinquencies are increasing and saving have dwindled since reaching pandemic highs. Rent has more than doubled since 2000, far outpacing the growth of incomes over the same period, according to Moody’s Analytics. More young people spend 30% or more of their income on rent than any other age group. A recent poll found that more than 75% of voters under 30 think the country is going in the wrong direction and 63% of young voters think neither party adequately represents them.

A swath of Gen Z reported lower levels of happiness and were less inclined to trust people. Young people today are less optimistic than any generation in decades that they will get a professional job or surpass the success of their parents. The pandemic amplified trends among Gen Z that have existed for years such as chronic isolation, a lack of social interaction and a propensity to spend large amounts of time online. Among people under 30, Biden leads Trump by 3%, 35% to 32%, with 14% undecided and the remaining shares going to third-arty candidates, including 10% to Robert Kennedy Jr.

Most of the young voters do not get their news from traditional media. Several said they don’t own a television. Instead, most use TikTok, Instagram, X and podcasts to gather information from people who rarely include journalists. This might also mean that they are not subjected to the brain washing by the mainstream media and triggers more critical thinking of the political system and the American system were everything is connected such as credit score, insurance, taxation, student loans and huge debts for young people. No wonder they are sad and lost.  

They likely feel trapped and overwhelmed by the system, and it is difficult for them to see a way out. Unfortunately, there is no help in sight from Washington and they will have to endure another period of inactively and Gen Z will also in the future be ignored and left to their own devices. This development goes hand in hand with the continued decline of the American society, culture, and moral values.

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