Millennials and Gen Z’ers Redefine Their Stereotypes

Last week, my MacBook Air gave out after four years, two schools, hundreds of typed essays, and an embarrassing amount of hours spent online shopping. Of course, this was tragic—but the best thing about buying a new laptop is that I get to pick new stickers to cover the top and show off a little about myself.

However, before I sat down for a shopping session at Redbubble, I started looking for inspiration from others as I rushed through the Rat, studied at O’Neill, and wrote essays at Starbucks. I examined all the open computers and took note of the cute stickers that people obviously much cooler than me had chosen. In doing this, I started to notice a trend.

Very few students had covered their computers in preppy brand stickers (think, “When life gives you lemons, hope they’re Lulu,” or the classic Patagonia logo), and instead had taken the time to carefully craft their choices to stand up for the issues they care about. Everywhere I looked, I saw “save the bees,” “love is love is love,” or “the future is female.” For students at BC, the act of covering your laptop with stickers is another tool to be a man or woman for others, and I believe it’s representative of a larger inclination in our University and even in our age group as a whole.

We care—that’s the trend. BC students care so much about making everything better for everyone, and that’s a reflection of our generation. Has there ever been a group of people so focused on making the world a better place? Millennials (born between 1981-1997) and Gen Z’ers (born after 1997) focus a significant amount of energy on determining what matters to them and what they can contribute. Whereas in the past a career was a source of income, these days we’re taught more and more to see it as a vocation. Nothing exemplifies this more than exactly what we’ve all heard at BC’s infamous retreats and reflections: What do you enjoy? What are you good at? What does the world need you to be? Then that’s what you should do. We’ve taken that to heart and now the world has a generation of people focused on supporting good causes and becoming advocates for things outside of themselves.

College students right now straddle the line between being Millennials and Generation Z. Because of this, they tend to carry the reputations of both of these generations. To most people above the age of 35, we college-age kids eat too much avocado, are incapable of doing anything without the assistance of a smartphone, and, most of all, get offended by everything.

Over the course of this past year at BC, I’ve heard students passionately discuss climate change, racism, feminism, the arts, and everything else under the sun there is to care about. Too often this passion is mistaken for misplaced intensity. I myself have heard it too often: “You take things too seriously,” or “It was just a joke, calm down.” We beg the older generations to understand the danger that consumerism presents the planet, the actual effects of offhanded racist or homophobic comments, why we feel the need to take on careers before we even consider a family . . . the list goes on. They beg us to let things go and stop standing up for things that don’t involve us. No one concedes, and everything stays the same.

We cover our computers with slogans that put us in the middle of relevant issues and the older generations scoff because they aren’t accustomed to a generation completely focused on social issues. We are not too intense or too worried or too dark. We are passionate, concerned, and hopeful that if we act now then we can save the planet, end political turmoil, and see the first woman president. We know that being at BC or any other university or being simply young and eager is an opportunity we can’t pass up. We’ve got to do what we can while we can. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you care about is insignificant or doomed to fail. You care, so there’s hope. It’s that simple.

Featured Graphic by Ikram Ali / Graphics Editor