The election was a thousand times more stressful than I had anticipated.
Honestly though, the weeks leading up to the election were almost as stressful or even more.
Prior to Nov. 3, with white supremacist groups gearing up to spew hatred, thousands of marginalized communities remained terrified. Many videos I saw on TikTok showed Black people planning to not go outside before or after the election in fear of what was to come. NC State knew this election was beyond stressful for students, so Pack the Polls provided post-election safe spaces, and some professors even canceled class that day. I personally didn’t attend any of my classes to keep my sanity. But what did not help was the amount of fearmongering and insensitive jokes that people made on TikTok and other apps.
One of my least favorite videos that has gone viral recently was a TikTok that had the infamous “The Purge” music in the background while a video of Los Angeles with boarded up shops was shown. Suffice to say, these kinds of videos do more harm than good and instill paranoia. One famous TikToker even tweeted about how people should stop making these videos.
I also find it weird that some members of Generation Z have been romanticizing a revolution or even Civil War after the election, while many BIPOC and other marginalized individuals throughout the country were rightfully scared of losing their rights. No, this isn’t your Katniss Everdeen moment; this is real life and people’s lives are at stake.
Now, I am not saying that I’m not proud of the progress, the things that this generation has accomplished or our beliefs as a whole. The Pew Research Center reported that 77% of Gen Zers disapproved of Trump and about 22% were proud of how he’s handled his presidency. Pew also coins Gen Z as more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations.
As I spoke about in August, when TikTok was on the president’s list of things to get rid of, I should remind everyone that it was Generation Z that made his rally look like a mess. This was organized through TikTok, and so much information continues to be spread through social media. When the Black Lives Matter movement was happening every single day (and still is), it was Gen Z organizers who spread information about these events, including what to wear and how to protect yourself.
While Gen Z can be stupid and sometimes make mistakes, I am so thankful to exist at the same time as you all. As people who were born either right before or closely after 9/11, we have endured the recession of 2008, while being kids, as well as the inevitable climate crisis, and in the end, we came out stronger. From an article from Buzzfeed News, news reporter Lauren Strapagiel interviewed a Gen Zer, Serena, and her perspective on the world.
“Gen Z was never really exposed to the same American dream that millennials were exposed to,” Serena told Strapagiel. “It’s more a stoic acceptance of the state of the world.”
The American dream is coined as the idea that if you work hard enough, you will achieve all your goals. For anyone who’s existed in a capitalist society, we know this isn’t a reality at all. This dream is the only hope some people have, but Gen Zers know this dream isn’t attainable.
It is exhausting to be the only hope left in the world. This was never up to us, yet this is the world we were given.
This is why many of us may come off as pessimistic, but I wouldn’t say Gen Z is defeated. We will not be complacent in the way the world changes around us. Here on campus, we have numerous student organizations that have amplified voices. A couple I’ve heard of are Pack the Polls, the Environmental Student Association, Students for Immigrant Rights, Planned Parenthood Generation Action and so many more that work to promote activism. There is power in numbers, reform and organizing.
We have seen time and time again that Gen Z is protesting and using their voices. While older generations aren’t as prevalent in their activism, they still participate and have a lot of faith in Gen Z. Gen Z takes activism one step further by continuing the fight even when the going gets tough. We know older generations struggled and even protested for the same things we are. With climate change leering over us, we are a “there is no time to lose” generation. We cannot afford to sit around and let the world fall to pieces around us. It is our future that is on the line now, and that’s what older generations didn’t have to worry about. I kind of sound like Katniss Everdeen now, but in a less corny way, hopefully.
We know what needs to change and we are tired of waiting. We got Joe Biden in office, with the help of using our voices and voting. But Joe Biden wasn’t our endpoint, and we will not stop until we have shaped this world for the better.