As a member of Generation Z, I cannot help but notice how desensitized my generation is. Although Gen Z is composed of people born from 1996 to 2010, it is most commonly recognized as those born after 2001.
For our generation, it is true that most of us did not live through 9/11 or were not old enough to remember it. However, what people often fail to recognize is just how much our generation has lived through, which I account to being the reason behind how apathetic our generation has become.
For example, since 2000 there have been approximately 190 school shootings at both colleges and schools throughout the United States. Back in 2000, there was a lot of fear among the parents of our generation; now there seems to be a complete lack of fear.
We are all subconsciously aware that violence like this will happen again. We are no longer wondering if it will happen again. We wonder when it will happen again, and just hope that it won’t happen to us.
In essence, the fact that there have been nearly 200 school shootings in 20 years has brought us to a point where it is a norm for our generation. An awful and tragic norm, of course, but still the norm. Thus, even with this expectation of some form of mass shooting occurring in the United States at some point every month, we lack a true reaction. We as a generation have collectively become passive to these events.
This is seen more recently in the World War III news that arose only 3 days into 2020, the beginning of the new decade. There was some fear, as it is a normal reaction to have fear of some level. However, Gen Z coped with this fear through insensitive humor.
As with most humor, seemed like the subject wasn’t being taken seriously. Everyone was just sharing memes about World War III and how they would be drafted and how all their friends could be killed in the war when they are all drafted together.
It was terrifying not only to hear the news that the United States could be entering World War III, but it was more terrifying for me to find out about this news through memes. The fact that Gen Z decided almost as a hive mind that “Oh well, I guess we’re going to war” was scarier than it would have been if everyone had started panicking about going to war.
Luckily, nothing major happened after this news. But the memes continued to appear. There were memes about women going back to subservient roles to avoid being drafted and men laughing at memes before they realizing that they too could be drafted.
Although everyone is allowed to have their own coping mechanisms, and Gen Z tends to use humor in general as said coping mechanism, the fact that the entire generation was brushing off the news just goes to show the level of indifference we have reached.
Where other generations have been exposed to some traumatic events, our generation has been brought up with them to the point where they have become all we know. Of course we shouldn’t have gotten to this point, but that won’t change the fact that we exist in a cycle. We subconsciously expect violence, something terrible happens, we cope through humor, and repeat.
It may be too late for us to get rid of this mindset, since it is all we know, and everything we have grown up with. All we can do now is try to make a world where Gen Alpha and our children do not have to live in the same tragic way.