Our intention was to protect you from the emotional turmoils, traumas and uncertainties of our world. But instead, we offered you as sacrificial lambs to the Silicon Valley overlords playing God with technology and destroying your sense of self, your mental health and your communities.
We failed you. And I am so sorry.
GenZ, you were supposed to have the world handed to you by us, GenX, your parents and guardians. We failed to protect you from the devastating impacts of late stage capitalism. In our attempt to insulate you from the uncertainties of a changing planet and the absolute failure of our government on almost every level, we left you unprepared, anxious and traumatized.
And I am so sorry.
GenZ, you inspire me most days. Your “fuck around and find out” approach to the world gives me hope. Your depth of empathy towards one another and the greater communities you flow within gives me hope. Your willingness to stand up and say “No” in the face of an oppressor gives me hope.
But my heart absolutely breaks when I watch you try to navigate this world we’re handing you. I spend most of my days in classrooms with GenZ and working with you in technological fields. I see you struggle with the traumas you have already endured and I watch you grapple to understand a world that is collapsing around you. And I am reminded that we, the generation before you, failed to help you cultivate the exoskeleton you need to navigate the world as a young adult.
You grew up learning how to dodge bullets and apply tourniquets to your friends in your classrooms when you should have been building forts and playing kickball. You grew up carrying the burden of your parent’s financial chaos during the housing collapse. You grew up watching billionaires play God with the very fabrics of your society.
We handed you devices that were designed to completely destroy your nervous systems and gave you deep addictions to dopamine and external validation. We failed to protect you from the destructive tentacles of technology that have now almost completely destroyed your ability to connect with the people and places around you. You came of age during a raging pandemic, where your government and many of the adults around you failed to protect you using the very basic principles of public health.
And now you are entering adulthood deeply steeped in anxiety, depression and polarization. Many of the students I interact with are unable to connect with the current events swirling around them because they can not do so without emotion. GenZ, you’ve only known a world fractured by weaponized algorithms.
And I am so sorry.
You never knew what it meant to be a child in a world without technology. You never knew what it meant to leave the house when the sun came up, meet your friends in the woods and play until sunset, only checking in with an adult to be fed for five minutes. You never knew what it meant to just show up somewhere and randomly connect with friends, without coordinating via text or social apps. You never had a childhood where bullying was done face to face and was, in many cases, handled through conversation. You never had a childhood without a tracking device in your pocket. You never had a childhood where your identity wasn’t plastered all over social media for strangers to judge. You never had a childhood without “influencers” and a 24/7 corporate news cycle. You never had a childhood without the ever-present specter of mass shootings and environmental catastrophes.
You had a childhood without a future. And I am so sorry.
We have failed you, GenZ. We didn’t protect you from technology. We didn’t give you the firm foundation to navigate an absolutely decimated environment. We didn’t protect your future— or your present.
And I am so sorry.