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.