The Beginning: Generation Z, Gratitude and a University Student's approach to the pandemic...

Updated: Jun 26

To say that our world has changed over the past 25 years, would be a gross understatement. We humans have come a long way, from globalisation to nationalist political leaders; from technology to advanced Artificial Intelligence, and now from Climate Change to viral pandemics. We've prevailed each time, leading nature's hierarchy. First we evolved from apes; now, we’re evolving from each other. 


Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash


The Generational Change:


Back in the 1950s, when technology wasn't nearly as prominent as it is today, people used to spend most of their time either working, protesting, or procreating. The world experienced a rapid increase in birth rates following the events of World War 2. Therefore, the group of individuals born during this period came to be known as 'Baby Boomers'. These individuals were known to value inter-personal relationships, since they grew up using rotary dial telephones and writing letters to stay connected.

The first generational shift came after the Boomers, by the name of 'Generation X', typically associated with being independent, career focused and work oriented. Exposure to technology was still limited.

During the late 1980s, workplace experienced a new shift with the 'Millennials' or 'Generation Y', known as the tech-savvy, innovative and ambitious generation. Their high dependency on technology however, put their ability to to build human connections on the back foot.


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So that brings us to the last and most recent generation, born after 1997- ‘Generation Z’, the first generation to have grown up with modern technology. A generation that is commonly associated with being privileged, entitled, narcissistic, pretentious, and so on. Because of this generalisation, there is a high rate of competitiveness in the industry, and most Gen Z people prefer to work alone rather than in a team. And if this is all that we’re perceived as, then we have a problem. 


The Modern Z was created with the hope of changing how Generation Z is perceived. Through unity and diversity, we will bring forward ideas, values, thoughts and stories by someone from one end of the world, to reach and inspire someone on the other end of the world. We will provide content that Gen Z people can relate to, resonate with, and use to bring about a meaningful change in their lives. In this blog post, we share some of our own personal experiences and what we've learnt from them.


Over To Us...

The inspiration for 'The Modern Z' came from a presentation I was working on a few years ago, the topic being ‘how organisations can effectively manage different generations in the workplace’. Due to the differences in the way Boomers, Millennials and Generation Z have been brought up, getting them to work together can be a difficult task. With Gen Z, I found that there existed common stereotype, which I can attest to by my own experience. The Modern Z hopes to change that.


It's not all black and white though, there is some grey area. While researching for this podcast/blog, my co-founder Bhuwan came across a TED video (link at the bottom of blog) that talked about rethinking the way people aged 40+ judge Gen Z for always being on their phone. Gary Vaynerchuk mentions that “not only are these kids spending more time with their devices but they are constantly building a personal brand as soon as they join social media”. This is the grey area mentioned earlier, where Gen Z is taking advantage of technology to further their cause, or to build a business, hone into their skills or make something out of themselves.


Photo by Michael Henry on Unsplash


Another way to explore this grey area is to strike up a conversation with someone and really get to know them. Personally, I got a chance to develop this skill after going on exchange and studying in different countries. I was able to meet tons of people along the way, each having their own stories. You never know what you can learn from someone if you just walk up to them and just say hi. Technology was designed to make our lives better. But if that comes at the cost of losing the ability to have real conversations and connections with each other, then many would argue that it is not desirable. We live in a world where competition exists in pretty much, every industry out there. Some may argue that competition is the driving factor for success. But excess thereof can cause obsession, greed, and discontent within humans. Moderation is the key.

To prevent this from happening, you might consider comparing yourself today to how you were yesterday, rather than with people who may have started earlier, are are therefore ahead in their journey.


A Touch of Gratitude


A few years ago I went on a short trip to Mumbai along with my family, my first time visiting the city. I have plenty of great memories from that trip, the food, the culture and the people. A particular one though, was a moment I experienced on a train station when I saw a beggar. Beggars are not uncommon in India, but beggars like this one, definitely so. It was an aged lady, visually impaired and on crutches, wearing a beaming smile on her face as she was feeding her children some food. It was one of the most moving moments of my life and got me thinking about my perception of this world.

Photo by Yash Bhardwaj on Unsplash


We often get so fixated on things that don’t matter. We complain about things beyond our individual control, like the weather, or the patriarchy. We compare ourselves with others, thinking about how we’re not as good looking, or popular, or as fit and healthy. And we’re all guilty of this. But since that incident on the train station, I started a daily habit. It involves me being mindful and grateful about the 5-6 things that help me live the way I do. I share these here with the hope that this intrinsic gesture of gratitude helps some of you out there be more content with life, as it helped me.


1. Life - Take a moment to acknowledge being born into a good household, growing up surrounded by good people, being able to receive education, etc. 

2. Body - Social Media has changed the way many of us look at our bodies, thank you Instagram Models. But when I say body in this context, I’m talking about the roots. Being grateful for having all our limbs in-tact, having control over our 5 senses that allow us to see, hear and smell whatever the world has to offer. Being grateful that if we're not mentally challenged, and free of disease; as it makes our lives a whole lot easier.. These are little intricate details of our bodies which often go unnoticed, since we’re fixated on those outside layers. 


3. Food - As someone who loves all sorts of food, I’m grateful for having food on my table, food of my choice, and that I get to try new foods at will. Food waste is a real problem and acknowledging my position and the food I’ve been blessed with helps me prevent or even minimise food waste.

Photo by Christopher Jolly on Unsplash


4. Money - Money is a big one, and isn't discussed too often. Our parents work hard to provide for us, so we can avail education and live happily. This one helps avoid some of those thoughts that arise when I see someone who has more or less money than myself. 


5. Friends - Psychologists argue that loneliness and depression are linked in a cycle of sorts. That you might be surrounded by people but still feel lonely, which further leads to isolation, that eventually results in depression. I’m grateful for having a real, genuine friend group...or so I feel. Having genuine connections with people who share your ideals and values is a privilege that not everyone has.


6. Family - My family has always been supportive of my actions. They’ve raised me in a manner that ensured I don’t feel entitled, provided me with the resources I need to do what I want, and given me guidance when I needed advice. And with this comes a responsibility on my shoulders, to do right by them. So not only am I grateful for having a family like mine, but am also thankful for everything they’ve done for me so far.


Photo by Marcos Paulo Pradoon Unsplash


Pause and think about the intricate aspects of your life, what are the things that help you live the way you do. And then just offer your gratitude to a higher power, whoever that may be.

Being content is something I’ve come to terms with over the past few years, and it has helped me appreciate and focus on everything I have, rather than everything I don’t.


Bhuwan shares an inspiring story of his while he was in the army: "While growing up in Uttarakhand in India (less known state), I always thought about poverty very deeply. Questioned - what have I done that I get all this stuff?


A house to live, school to go to, family, food etc. I was really young. My story of gratitude is a little different. To give a little background, I never used to hoard stuff but when you’re young your parents help you buy clothes and these clothes keep piling up. One day I looked at my cupboard and realized I don’t need so much stuff. I donated more than 50% of my clothes because I never wore them.


Seven months later I joined the army, an experience that completely changed my life. I served in the mandatory national service in Singapore. On my first ever field camp with no devices, no bathrooms, just my company and commanders. We dug a shell scrape to sleep in, we slept in the jungle for 6 days, we ate combat rations for lunch and dinner, we had biscuits for breakfast before the first run in the morning. We had a test on the last day for all the things we learnt during the field camp before we could go back to our school, it was more of a fight or flight situation. Either I can run away from this situation and give up or face my anxiety. If my section mates can do it, I can too. I stopped thinking about things I could be doing at home, I started to enjoy the training instead.


I understood the need for appreciation for small things in life, I started to enjoy the combat rations, the punishment of push ups with the full load of 23kg bag and a rifle. Every time I remember that time, it makes things easier for me in life. It is not that bad right now. I am getting cooked meals, I have running water, I have a bed to sleep in...etc.

Gratitude can be life changing, give it a go.



Our Approach to the Pandemic:

As university students, we can relate to how some of you might be feeling. The thought of being stuck due to nation-wide restrictions, getting used to Zoom, losing a job, having a loved one test positive, it's scary. We've tried to change the way we perceive this situation, to get our minds off it as much as possible. During these times, it is of utmost importance to be healthy, both mentally and physically.


Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash


Limiting sugar and processed food consumption, while switching to whole foods can be a great way to stay healthy. If you're in a situation where controlling food intake is difficult, try adding some physical activity to your routine. This may be through some home exercises, yoga, dance, pilates, an outdoor walk or a jog, etc. Physical exercise works like an anti-depressant.

This is also the best time to learn something new. Open up that list of things you might've made for tasks to do when you're free. The internet has a lot to offer other than social media.

Reward yourself with something upon completing a task. Yes, there is no motivation for anyone to do anything right now. Experiment with yoga or calisthenics, even if you've never tried them before. You just need your body and nothing else. 




This pandemic is a test for humanity. We've been through The Black Death, Great Depression, and World Wars 1 and 2. Our world has never been more developed, or more knowledgable. So have faith in your fellow humans, the doctors treating patients non-stop, the researchers working together across various regions to develop a vaccine. Our politicians too, who are trying their best to prevent their countries from falling apart. It's easy to criticise someone for what they are not doing, especially since the media isn't interested in helping us too much. Needless to say, we'll get through this and emerge as a stronger community. Treat this as an opportunity, to do what you've always wanted to do. Stay safe, stay healthy. After all, all we have is each other.



Podcast Links:


Anchor: https://anchor.fm/modernz/episodes/The-Beginning-ecnosn


Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-modern-z/id1508434840


Pocketcast:https://pca.st/l9psscl4


Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/0PVScWrhOPhpT7AdQkrPzE



Our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TModernZ

Our Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the.modernz/



References:


Ted Talk- https://youtu.be/qyCn3APagyU


Bacha, Z., 2019.Generation Z Will Change The Face Of The Workforce. [online] Strammer. Available at: <https://strammer.com/en/meet-generation-z/> [Accessed 16 April 2020].


Ghawi, D., 2018. Main Characteristics Per Generation. [online] Thriveglobal.com. Available at: <https://thriveglobal.com/stories/main-characteristics-per-generation/> [Accessed 13 April 2020].

Ryback, R., 2016. From Baby Boomers To Generation Z. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201602/baby-boomers-generation-z> [Accessed 13 April 2020].


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The Modern Z