Guest Writer, Akinpelu Babatola
Everything was going great for Generation Z or Gen Z as they are popularly called. They were on a path to great economic success. A success that was predicted to be unmatched by any of the previous generations.
And then the COVID 19 pandemic happened. Now the future no longer looks as bright.
Gen Z was supposed to join a waxing economy, with a low unemployment rate. In February, the United States reported an unemployment rate of 3.5%. By April, this percentage had risen to 14.7%.
Gen Z had always shown trends of saving up and preparing for retirement. It led several researchers to term them as the frugal generation. But now with the unemployment rate on the rise, this might no longer be possible.
With more jobs being lost thanks to the pandemic, this has become a defining period for Gen Z. It has become the “where were you?” period for them. This puts the pandemic on the same level as 9/11, the AIDS endemic, and other such events.
The pandemic has changed more than just the working situation. It has affected almost every strata of Gen Z’s life.
Education has changed. Events like graduation, senior prom are no longer feasible. At least not in the normal sense.
Before the pandemic, it was theorized that most Gen Z members would go to college. This would have put them in college more than any other generation. Now it’s impossible to say if this will remain the truth.
The pandemic induced lockdown has mandated even more change. Now, high school seniors and college students can only take part in such events through screens. That’s if they have access to the necessary facilities for this.
Travel has become an almost impossible thing. Summer beaches and vacation resorts this year have been closed down thanks to the pandemic. Those that do manage to open don’t have enough guests.
Now rather than go traveling, Gen Z and the rest of us have to settle for digital beaches. This will be the reality of things until the pandemic passes. If it doesn’t, then it is likely traveling will only be for necessity.
Beyond the physical and economic situations, mental health is also a cause for concern. Job loss, the lockdown, and the uncertainty of the future are more than enough reasons to trigger depression. Depression, particularly amongst Gen Z, is on the rise.
This comes off the back of several pandemic-induced shocks. While we can take advantage of innovation and certain technological trends, it is almost impossible to see if this trend will change.
The future might look bleak for Gen Z, but there’s cause for hope. Humanity has always survived such situations. The world will come back stronger as it did from the Recession and the World Wars.