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The Generation Z, born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s, are the first to grow up with the internet and social media as integral parts of their daily lives. These have given them access to vast amounts of information about global events. Unfortunately, recent years have equally seen a surge in political and economic instabilities that have adversely affected them. This article explores how this disillusionment with politics and the economy could impact the future.
The demographic known as Gen Z experienced much political unrest during their formative years. As a result, they have been exposed to issues like the increase of populism and nationalism, and the decrease in democracy and human rights. As a result, their general worldview and how they fit into it have been greatly influenced.
The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States in 2016 was a significant milestone in global politics, giving prominence to new notions like populism, nationalism, and divisive rhetoric. This was the first exposure of many of them to high-stakes political events. Trump’s presidency was polarising and has left a lasting impression on their political beliefs and values.
Similarly, the 2016 United Kingdom Brexit referendum and ongoing debates surrounding the European Union have contributed to the disillusionment of the Gen Z with politics. These events have often been chaotic and confusing, leaving many disengaged from the political process.
The rise of authoritarian leaders and erosion of democratic values in various parts of the world have also shaped the perception of the Gen Z about politics. The decline of democracy and human rights has become a global concern, leading many to develop deep scepticism about the ability of political institutions to address pressing issues.
In addition to the tumultuous political landscape, the Gen Z have also faced a harsh economic reality. They grew up experiencing the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, witnessing economic instability and a widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor. This has led to disillusionment with the current financial system and a desire for change.
High levels of student debt, soaring housing costs, and stagnant wages have left many feeling financially insecure and questioning the value of traditional paths to success. In addition, the increasingly competitive job market, with automation and the gig economy threatening secure, well-paying jobs, has led many young people to turn to alternative means of income.
Moreover, growing awareness of income inequality and the role of corporations in perpetuating this disparity has led to a desire for economic reform. As a result, many Gen Z individuals advocate for universal basic income, wealth redistribution, and increased social safety nets to create a more equitable society.
The ongoing environmental crisis is a significant contributor to the disillusionment of the Gen Z. Climate change and its dire consequences are a harsh reality that this generation has grown up with, leading to deep concern about the planet and its future. But unfortunately, governments and corporations have failed to take meaningful action to address this urgent issue, which has resulted in a growing sense of frustration among many Gen Z individuals.
The coverage of natural disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts, has only heightened the sense of urgency. In addition, youth-led environmental movements, such as the global climate strikes led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, have galvanised the Gen Z to take matters into their own hands and demand change from those in power. However, this generation’s disappointment with the current state of global environmental policy is further exacerbated by the ongoing debate surrounding the efficacy of individual actions in combating climate change. As a result, systemic change is necessary to address the issue, leading to a sense of helplessness and frustration.
With regard to the environment, the urgency that the Gen Z feel towards addressing the climate crisis will likely result in significant pressure on governments and corporations to adopt more ambitious and comprehensive sustainability measures. This may involve the implementation of aggressive climate policies, increased investment in renewable energy sources, and a greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility.
The disillusionment experienced by the Gen Z has far-reaching implications for the future of politics, the economy, and the environment. As this generation comes of age and begins to assume positions of power and influence, their disaffection with the current state of affairs is likely to drive significant changes in these areas.
Traditional political institutions and processes need to be more modern in the political sphere. The dissatisfaction of the Gen Z with these systems may increase the demand for more transparent, inclusive, and accountable governance. As a result, we may see a shift towards more grassroots and participatory forms of democracy and a greater emphasis on social justice and human rights issues. In addition, the rise of populism and nationalism may be countered by a renewed focus on global cooperation and multilateralism, as the Gen Z recognise the interconnected nature of the world’s challenges and the need for collective action.
The desire for greater financial security and equality is a significant concern for the Gen Z in the economic realm. They are calling for progressive policies that address income inequality and provide a stronger social safety net. Universal basic income, wealth redistribution, and increased investment in education and healthcare are among the measures that could be implemented as redress to the foregoing. Moreover, the growing interest in alternative forms of income and employment may contribute to the reimagining of the traditional career path and the shift towards more flexible, adaptable, and sustainable ways of working.
With regard to the environment, the urgency that the Gen Z feel towards addressing the climate crisis will likely result in significant pressure on governments and corporations to adopt more ambitious and comprehensive sustainability measures. This may involve the implementation of aggressive climate policies, increased investment in renewable energy sources, and a greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility. However, it’s apparent that more than focusing on individual actions is needed; a broader understanding of the need for systemic change is required, leading to a more collective and coordinated approach to tackling environmental challenges.
The Generation Z’s disillusionment with politics and the economy reflects the complex and challenging world they have inherited. As they come of age and begin to shape the future, their disaffection is likely to drive significant changes in the political, economic, and environmental spheres. Governments, businesses, and institutions must collaborate with this passionate and engaged generation to tackle urgent global issues. We must listen to their concerns to harness their potential effectively. By doing so, we can ensure that the disillusionment experienced by the Gen Z does not lead to apathy and disengagement but rather serves as a catalyst for positive change and a brighter future for all.
Adekola is a Chartered Accountant, ex-Banker, and Policy Analyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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