Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The Looming Threat of "Generation Z"

"Here Comes Generation Z," cheers a headline on Bloomberg View. "If, like me, you've been looking for a primer to explain Generation Z, the one that follows the 'Y' millennials," the writer says, "take a look at this 56-slide presentation by Sparks & Honey, a hard-to-pin-down organization that's part marketing agency and part think tank."

This presentation is not a primer. Nor is it a marketing deck, though that is its form. It is a stunning work of speculative fiction about a future that must be avoided at all costs. It imagines a generation defined exclusively in opposition to the ill-defined one that came before. Its incoherence, like the incoherence of its subjects, it what gives it such paralyzing power.

It is a Childhood's End for our time. It is a portrait of a ruined generation, rendered from the point of view of America's worst industry.

"Their social circles are global," the marketers warn.

"They are the biggest foodies," the marketers say.

"Feed them," the marketers demand.

Could this be a joke, maybe a little? It must be, right? It doesn't matter: In marketing, jokes never stay jokes for long.

22 Comments / Post A Comment

NinetyNine (#98)

Hard-to-pin-down organization? Was 'subsidiary of Omnicom' not Generation Z enough for you?

holdup!holdmyphone! (#274,038)


Can't we just call it GenerationZ?

HelloTheFuture (#259,085)

38 percent plan to invent something that will change the world.

Good luck with that.

231381125@twitter (#279,575)

@HelloTheFuture So you're gonna try to quench their dreams. Good luck with that.

Mr. B (#10,093)

Whatever, guys. I teach this kids for a living and none of them even know how to insert a page break. (They press enter 25 times and then wonder why the formatting is all screwed up when they print it out.)

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Mr. B it's because they're in the FOURTH DIMENSION

Mr. B (#10,093)

@barnhouse Fortunately, my reading of the novels of William Sleator back in seventh grade helped to prepare me for this day.

(After you travel to FOUR SPACE and back, the most delicious food in the world is raw ketchup, which explains a lot actually.)

PIV (#275,909)

Can we go ahead and get started on pinning down the generation after generation Z right now? We don't want these kids learning how to write before we start spilling ink about them, do we? Lets get ahead of this thing.

Generation Z : "Rebels with every cause"
Generation Z.2 Plus : Entrenched establishment types

eizverson22 (#277,962)

I have not heard this thing, I was ignorant.

KarenUhOh (#19)

We'll start by putting Preparation H in their water supply.

Today's six-year-olds are very concerned about sustainability.

Sounds exactly like something Friedman would write. Trendy jargon words completely devoid of meaning.

This is the Z that World War Z warned us about.

hershmire (#233,671)

Fuck it, I'm moving to Vietnam.

Van Carney@facebook (#279,504)

Maybe I'm missing something, but this sounds like a vast improvement over the self-entitled and self-absorbed Millennials who think they are owed something just for showing up. So what if they are brought up in an age where cameras and internet connected devices are ubiquitous? The format and methods of communication does not matter. What does matter is that they grasp that not everything needs to be shared, and that sharing involves trust and the desire to be shared with. Perhaps they are the generation that will stop being apathetic about the Surveillance State that the US and much of the Western World has become and help champion technology and laws that protect the ability NOT TO SHARE with the Government or prying eyes.

commanderbanana (#167,624)

Did anyone notice that the people in the last picture were yanked from National Geographic's "What People Will Look Like in 2050" article? Good Golly, I wonder if Sparks & Honey got correct copyright permissions for using those photos.

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

The notion of the "digital native" is bogus. Tons of research demonstrates that. Young people aren't mystically savvy at technology, and in fact a lot of them that appear to be have broad but very shallow computer literacy. And old people aren't bad at computers, either.

JNC Musings Factory (#279,217)

I still don't understand if I'm Gen X or if my parents are Gen X and now I have to figure out what my future kid is? Ugh.

davidwatts (#72)

Every single person under 25 is "Blended (Race&Gender)"? God, no one tell the republicans. Or maybe DO tell them and they'll give up?

UhNo (#279,888)

@davidwatts Why, so we can have one-party rule in a country of 330 million? Please go away.

@UhNo Says 279,888 to 72. Looks like someone's trying to make it 329,999,999, right, unstoppable army of dastardly liberal internet commenters?

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