Opinion – Teens of 2020, what have we gotten ourselves into?

Students+move+from+class+to+class+at+North+Penn+High+School+on+November+12%2C+2020.+Navigating+the+halls+has+been+nothing+compared+to+navigating+2020+for+the+teenage+population+around+the+world.+

Ali Brooks

Students move from class to class at North Penn High School on November 12, 2020. Navigating the halls has been nothing compared to navigating 2020 for the teenage population around the world.

Frustration, uneasiness, hope, and excitement are all very different feelings, yet I seem to come across them every day. I, with the addition of about 40 million other American teenagers about my age, am moving onto the next chapter in my life. I, amongst my peers, am also witnessing a deadly global pandemic, an economic crisis, and the infamous 2020 Presidential Election. 

We are witnessing the increasing number of lives lost due to a pandemic that we never expected would even remotely impact us. Families and businesses in our communities are struggling. Then, we turn on our TVs, or open up our phones, and see a whirlwind of political drama, news, scandals, and conflict that seems to be never-ending. Yet amidst all this, we are still told to be hopeful? How can we be at a point in our lives full of future plans, new adventures, and independence when all we can see is our worlds seemingly crumbling around us?

“Unlike the Millennials – who came of age during the Great Recession – this new generation was in line to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment. That has all changed now, as COVID-19 has reshaped the country’s social, political and economic landscape. Instead of looking ahead to a world of opportunities, Gen Z now peers into an uncertain future”, wrote Kim Parker and Ruth Igielnik from the Pew Research Center for Social and Demographic Trends. 

Generation Z is approaching the point in which many of its members will become contributors to American society by utilizing their right to vote, starting their first jobs, and continuing their education in hopes of a successful career. They are beginning these stages at what seems to be a “make it or break it” point in America and have consequently been handed the responsibility of starting the efforts towards fixing the problems our country faces. 

Generation Z is approaching the point in which many of its members will become contributors to American society by utilizing their right to vote, starting their first jobs, and continuing their education in hopes of a successful career. They are beginning these stages at what seems to be a “make it or break it” point in America and have consequently been handed the responsibility of starting the efforts towards fixing the problems our country faces. ”

The 2020 election will forever be known for its historically high voter turnout, due in part to record-breaking numbers in young voters. President elect Joe Biden was a candidate predominately chosen by the younger crowd, yet Generation Z still wants to see more change.

“Those who voted for Biden said their fight for progressive ideals cannot stop now that a Democrat has been elected and said they’ll push to hold Biden accountable when it comes to issues like racial injustice, climate change, and immigration.” said NBC’s Kalhan Rosenblatt.

By electing the best possible option to create the sort of change they desire, my generation hopes to keep our futures intact.  

News of progress with the development of a vaccine as well as the promises for policy to be created by the next presidential administration sets aspirations high, but we are left wondering what the recovery of a post-virus country and economy will look like. Many still continue to be without a job and reliable income, and small, local businesses have withered away. Generation Z is tasked with aiding the economy in its recovery through pushes for increased government aid and is also left with the job of brainstorming new innovations to prevent this catastrophe from ever happening again. 

An increased awareness of racial disparities brought about by publicized events of police brutality and other heinous scenarios depicted in the media have kickstarted Generation Z into being a generation well aware of their privilege. Through the use of social media, we have brought awareness to events like the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The circulation of online petitions to hold people accountable for their actions has also paved the way for more change to solve these problems our country faces. 

“Pew Research Center surveys conducted in the fall of 2018 (more than a year before the coronavirus outbreak) among Americans ages 13 and older found that, similar to Millennials, Gen Zers are progressive and pro-government, most see the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity as a good thing” according to Parker and Igielnik. 

Our generation appreciates and embraces the qualities that make each of us different, and are willing to help and education people of other generations to do the same. 

Being the most ethnically and culturally diverse generation our country has yet to see, as well as our increased quality of education and knowledge of the developed world, puts us ahead of the generations who have preceded us. Although Generation Z has many obstacles to face, we have the time to combat these battles, and I’m more than certain that we will continue to change the course of our nation’s history.