Now that the oldest Gen Zs have hit 25 and Millennials reluctantly tiptoe into their 40s, you may wonder what’s so different about these two generations.
Some describe Gen Z as being more aligned with Gen X, while Millennials best align with their generational archnemesis, the Boomers (Millennials coined the phrase, “OK, Boomer” to describe their disdain for the older generation). In many ways, Gen Z is a more extreme version of the Millennials, much to their chagrin. Check out these 5 key differences between the Millennial generation and Gen Z.
Personal Relationships and Sexuality
Millennials consider themselves progressive in relationships, as they generally waited longer into their early 30s to marry and openly supported gay marriage. Gen Z makes Millennials look prudish. They condone any and all forms of (healthy) relationships and have added multiple letters to the LGBTQ acronym. They are much more open about their sexuality and show few signs of interest in marriage or having children, as they express concern about the future of the planet and humankind.
Although millennials came of age during the technology boom, Gen Z was born into it. Millennials are credited with the creation and popularization of the selfie and influencer. Gen Z was born with an iPhone in their hands. They’ve never known life without cell phones, streaming, and always-on internet.
Stability vs. Independence
Studies show that millennials are increasingly looking for stability in their work environments. On the other hand, Gen Z is shaping up to be the entrepreneurs of the future. Why? Look at the economy during their youth. Millennials grew up during a time of great economic strength and prosperity. Gen Z faced the great recession during their childhood. As a result, Gen Z wants to create a startup and personalize their own independent work environment. Working for a big corporation is much less appealing to this generational cohort.
Millennials who attended college often accumulated massive debt as the price of higher education skyrocketed. To add insult to injury, the jobs they expected post-college didn’t materialize. Now, many continue to drown in educational debt as the government continues to grapple with the challenge of how to help alleviate this burden. Unsurprisingly, Gen Z, who grew up in a time of financial uncertainty, are less motivated to attend college. They see the vast debt facing Millennials and wonder aloud if they need a college education to become their own boss. Many are taking alternative routes to education, including tapping into growing on-demand learning choices to learn the skills needed to pursue their dreams.
Gen Z is all about authenticity. Aside from their open and supportive stance on sexuality, they are also leading the way in removing the stigma around mental health. In fact, more Gen Zers have gone to therapy than their Millennial counterparts. Gen Z individuals are more likely to be open about their problems and look to seek help. Unsurprisingly, Gen Z is more active in social justice issues than Millennials.
In many ways, from technology to sexuality, Gen Z is seen as an extreme version of the Millennials. As each cohort ages, the cultural changes will be fascinating to watch.