Cheering On Gen Z – The Observer September 2023

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We are cheering you on. 

You may think we don’t care, have clocked out, have said we no longer believe in you. Or maybe you assume we simply think that everything is so wrong with this world that it can never be right again.

We are cheering you on.

 All of us old people. We are rooting for you, cheering you on, believing the best, wildly applauding a generation that’s so much better than we could have ever hoped to be. 

Gen Y. 

Gen Z. 

You’re not uncared for or forgotten or hopeless. We see you. We see all of you. 

I was a part of the first generation that had a letter behind our name. Gen X (defined as the generation born between 1965 – 1980). I was born in 1980, so I just made the cut. Oh, we thought we were a big deal. Cutting edge, discovered the Internet. Had dial up internet and phones that didn’t have to be attached to the wall with a cord. 

But here we are and we have watched Gen Y grow into adults and now it’s Gen Z’s turn. It’s the generation of children born with more technology than the world has ever known. More connected and more disconnected all in one big overwhelming breath. 

Read the statistics and the numbers will tell you addiction is on the rise, depression is on the rise, abuse is on the rise in our Gen Z. The numbers are unprecedented. 

But if you watch this generation, you’ll see something else on the rise in Gen Z: kindness, compassion for others, a desire to be inclusive, brilliant minds ready to change the world. 

Gen Z is the untold story of greatness waiting to unfold before our eyes. But so many of us aren’t watching. We are busy reading isolated stories of insanity that blow our mind. But look at the generation in front of us: They’re full of hope, ready to change the world. They simply need a generation who has gone before to stand behind them and believe in them. To encourage them and let them know that even though it’s hard, they are ridiculously capable of changing their world for the better. 

We are cheering you on, Gen Z. 

Gen Z is defined as those born between 1997 and 2012; ages 9-24. They can text faster than we can think a thought, understand the interconnectivity between social platforms and see the world in a whole new way. There’s 68 million of them in the United States. 

Sixty eight million who are ready to soar. 

Can I quote an old Gen X song and say we want to be the “wind beneath your wings?” (Maybe you’ll understand that, maybe you won’t. I’m dying laughing behind my computer just typing that). 

To put it in Gen Z language, I’ll quote the little people from “Horton Hears a Who” movie: “We are here. We are here. We are here.” We are chanting this so loudly behind you. Can you hear us? We are here for you. Here for advice if you need it from us old folks, but here to wildly applaud you as you move this world forward. Go and be better than any of us. Go and be world changers. Go and stand on platforms, but bend low in humility and grace that this generation needs. 

We are cheering you on. 

I watched over 13,000 of you gather in a stadium in Alabama about a month ago for a  youth conference. Which totals less than one percent of the 68 million of you here in the United States. Watching all of you inspired hope and confidence in what is to come. Don’t believe it when people say this world isn’t what it used to be. It can be better. 

I also know that most of you Gen Z’s won’t ever pick up this magazine to read this. Hopefully you catch it online. Or one of us old folks sits you down and asks you to read it. 

We are cheering you on.