How to Pretend You’re Part of Gen Z So People Will Like You

Jaden and Willow Smith, Gen Z role models.
Jaden and Willow Smith, Gen Z role models. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Kevin Mazur

Being a millennial kind of sucks. Nobody, not even millennials, wants to be called “a millennial.” And who can blame any of us? You identify as one and the world at large assumes you are entitled, spoiled, impatient, or any other host of negative synonyms most commonly used to describe Violet Beauregarde. Nobody likes you when you’re born between 1980 and 1995, but you know who people do seem to like? Generation Z.

The New York Times offers an extensive breakdown of the group born between 1996 and 2010, and man, do they seem cooler than millennials. Where this generation likes Lady Gaga, the Olsen twins, Facebook, feeling special, and alienating bosses; Generation Z prefers Lorde, Tavi Gevinson, Snapchat, smart personal brands, and bettering the world. In other words, says the Times:

“If Hannah Horvath from ‘Girls’ is the typical millennial — self-involved, dependent, flailing financially in the real world as her expectations of a dream job and life collide with reality — then Alex Dunphy from ‘Modern Family’ represents the Gen Z antidote,” Ms. Greene said. “Alex is a true Gen Z: conscientious, hard-working, somewhat anxious and mindful of the future.”

It’s easy to dress yourself up in normcore or an agender dress-length shirt, but if you really want to convince people you’re part of the best generation, you need to work for it. Here is a crib sheet, so people need not know your secret:

Celebrity Role Models: Tavi Gevinson, Jaden and Willow Smith, Amandla Sternberg. Miley Cyrus can hang out … for now.

Attitude: Very nice, but slightly cynical pragmatism, instead of “I’m special” optimism.

World Outlook: Gender binaries are for your grandma.

Social Media of Choice: Short, quick, temporary, easily branded, with viral potential: like Snapchat, Vine, Instagram. Twitter is for activism. Facebook is for old, clueless people.

Style: normcore, neorave, agender, individualistic.

Some sentences to try out: “Oh man, did you get that outfit on Shop Jeen?” “I contribute to Rookie!” “Wanna take a Snap?” “I wanted to get a part-time job this summer, but my small start-up that makes food out of hemp is taking up a bit too much time.”

A Millennial’s Guide to Seeming ‘Gen Z’