Millennials beware - Generation Z is on the warpath | Nosheen Iqbal

Teenagers are turning against their elders to devastating effect

God love Generation Z. The babies we’re burdening to save us all from the climate crisis. The future we’re sure will make the world better. And, in brief, anyone under 22 who has contributed to the savage generational dragging of millennials last week and given me a decent cackle in the process.

The “Gen Z goes to war with millennials” theme, cribbed from TikTok and sent viral, has been a highlight for the nailed-on accuracy of ridicule it has unleashed. Millennial culture as represented in the mainstream – white, whiney and wine-y – has been an easy target for more than a decade. Generally, I have little to zero loyalty for the cliches spawned by my fellow-ish millennials: my cringe threshold is too low to endure the fetishisation of Friends. I can’t take anyone who has ever said “adulting” seriously.

When generations above have moaned that the millennials’ inability to buy their own homes might be due to the overconsumption of avocados or something, it’s been easy to eye-roll; the old chastising the young is a cycle that humanity has always had on repeat.

But the youngish being roasted by the even younger is something funnier altogether. And Generation Z aren’t just inventive and droll – they get it. So they’ve come for the social media narcissism, the Buzzfeed quizzes, the “people who still think Harry Potter movies are a personality trait” and they’ve come hard.

To them, as one 16-year-old told Vice, millennials are “old people trying to use social media… they try to use all the hashtags and gifs, but they’re not good at it”, or they’re try-hards who “really get caught up in really simple, everyday stuff. They grow a basic thing, like a fruit or vegetable, and they’re like ‘wow I didn’t kill it’.”

Ouch! I don’t know why it makes me laugh so much. But in Gen Z’s skewering of an overly nostalgic, simple-pleasures-loving generation… well, where is the lie?

A sorry apology

Je suis désolé, but we’re living through the golden age of the bad apology. Celebrities, looking grave and doe-eyed, have delivered us all manner of sombre sorries in recent weeks, promising “to take responsibility”.

As comedian Caleb Hearon has pointed out, the general performative nature of people scrambling to yell I TOO AM RACIST in the hope they might elevate themselves among their peers isn’t helpful. Put another way: “You don’t need to bum-rush the lifeboats, babe. Try to remember this isn’t all about you getting a clean performance review.”

But one that struck me was Catherine Cohen, who won best newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy awards last year. Cohen has been pretty vocal on why Black Lives Matter of late; naively, I was all the more surprised to see her exposed as a hypocrite.

In 2016, Cohen put an African American man in shackles, held his chain and posed next to him “for a joke” in which he was her slave. The clip resurfaced online. “I was trying to make fun of self-absorbed millennials who are ignorant regarding prejudice and racism,” she explained on Twitter. Irony has always been a weak cover for bad taste and four years doesn’t seem that long ago to be indulging in such rank material. Cohen has, per script, said sorry and promised to listen, learn, do better.

Painfully good TV

I don’t want to go on about it because hyperbole really is the death of a good thing but it is very much worth tuning into Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You. It is brilliant, funny, traumatic. Do treat the title as a public health warning. Don’t expect an easy watch.


Nosheen Iqbal

The GuardianTramp

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