Gen Z Scrolls Through Life’s Issues


Payton DiSario

Justin Zac-Williams, junior, and Dylan Miller, sophomore, are better known on Tik Tok as @justin.zac and @thedylanmiller, respectively. Miller has already gained roughly 424.8 thousand followers.

Payton DiSario, Media & Sports Editor

It is the end of the first month of the new decade: the earth is on fire, America is on the brink of war, the president faces removal from office, earthquakes shake the world and everyone seems to be catching the Coronavirus (and no, that does not mean the drink).

The world holds a new terror every which way one might turn. The question is, when life appears grim all the time, how can one possibly deal with it?

As coping mechanisms go, humor has proven itself effective. Humanity has always made jokes to deal with difficult subjects, but when it comes to today’s generation, ‘Gen Z’ has taken the concept to a whole new level. 

“Past generations didn’t have social media to cope. Now, people are spending so much time on it that it’s kind of like the norm,” Chandler Fowler, junior, said.

Because teenagers are digitally connected, traumas intrude on the world’s screens right away. The problem is, rather than dealing with serious issues, most of the time social media turns them into a joke. 

“Sometimes, social-media-humor can desensitize people to what’s really going on and make people want to be less involved or less concerned because they see it as humorous… There is a time to care and there is a time to laugh, and sometimes social media makes it difficult to tell the difference,” Rosemary Ahonen, advanced placement psychology teacher, said. 

Kids across the world are all laughing at the same joke. It lets us know, we’re all the same on the inside,”

— Chandler Fowler

Whether Gen Z downplays issues or not, they at least are aware of current events. Without social media, most teenagers would be oblivious to everything going on outside of their own lives.

“[Tik Tok] made me intrigued in [the possibility of a war]. Then I did some of my own research… and some of the memes about the bombings of places in Iran helped me to grasp the concept,” Owen Morrison, sophomore, said. 

Jokes about World War III, as Morrison referred to, were popular at the very beginning of the year. However, with each day, a new meme seems to take the spotlight. 

“I say that I can’t wait to go to war or something. My personal favorite is the Coronavirus. [My friends and I] all say that we want it, which, 10 out of 10, I do want it,” Kalyn McMillan, junior, said. 

Even in real life, McMillan continued to turn to humor.

“[Humor] is a defense mechanism and, for a lot of people, depending on how they present themselves on social media, it may be expected that they make a joke or magically have something humorous to say,” Ahonen said. 

In a community in which most students have access to running water and clean clothes, it can be difficult to recognize what they need to defend themselves from. Fowler believes that teenagers need protection from their own minds.

Caleb Buell
Click here to view an example of ‘Gen Z’ humor. This video was used with permission from @caleb_bruell on Tik Tok.

“I think a lot of people are sincerely scared of a lot of stuff, and they think that making jokes about it will make it easier for them to deal with. It ends up where everyone thinks that way. It works for me,” Fowler said. 

Social media has allowed teenagers to share the weight of the world between an entire generation. No matter how dark any situation may seem to be, no matter whether it is personal or global, the Internet provides an automatic connection with someone else who can sympathize.

“I think [that through social media] students reach out to other people that may have commonalities with them and can share similar experiences,” Ahonen said. 

While the Internet provides an accessible coping outlet, Ahonen warns of the dangers of a single defense mechanism.

“Humor has a time and a place and, eventually, everything can be made into a joke, but sometimes it’s just too soon and I think that we need to remind ourselves that there are things that we need to care about,” Ahonen said. 

Some teenagers feel like, even though they are making light of situations, constantly discussing them can have adverse effects. 

“I think social media makes depression worse because we make jokes about everything that we shouldn’t make jokes about instead of dealing with it,” McMillan said.

Where some of Gen Z acknowledge social media’s negative aspects, others argue that the only alternative would ultimately leave the world worse off. 

“I think that Tik Tok is a good way to cope, rather than crying or worrying. It’s better than to panic,” Zoey Bright, sophomore, said. 

Regardless of whether humor through social media causes more harm than good, or vice versa, it connects teenagers from across the world, making them feel less alone. 

“Kids across the world are all laughing at the same joke. It lets us know, we’re all the same on the inside,” Fowler said.