Maybe think twice before retweeting those ‘edgy’ Tide Pod think pieces
By Rebecca Peterson, Assistant Editor
Millennials, we aren’t kids anymore. Literally, none of us are kids—the youngest among us will turn 22 this year. We are officially adults, even if we don’t feel like it, and even if Baby Boomers seem to think we’re all still teenagers.
Isn’t it annoying how older generations have treated us? Remember how adults used to bemoan our texting, social media, video games, and music as portents of the end times? Didn’t it bother you how they would maintain that we all just want trophies for showing up (even though, as it has been pointed out, they were the ones giving us participation medals to begin with)? How they ridiculed us for our immersion in technology (yet, who’s helping Grandma with her Wi-Fi every Sunday)? As the Bard, William (Smith), once said: “Parents just don’t understand.”
Man, that all sucked, didn’t it? Anyway, let’s talk about Gen Z.
Who is Gen Z? Well, they’re the new kids on the block, so to speak—22 and under, the bulk of whom are passing through their teenager phase right now. You might know them by their meme culture, their use of the internet as part of their life essence (we grew up with the internet—they were born into it), and, of course, the infamous Tide Pod phenomenon: A joke from an online community of neuro-atypical people about intrusive thoughts that spiraled out of control. Millennials said they wished that Tide Pods were edible because they look edible. Gen Z said, “Challenge accepted.”
In the months that followed, Gen Z received an avalanche of ridicule levied at them from all sides: Left and right, old and not-so-old. “I weep for the next generation,” scoffed many Millennials.
Well, my fellow Millennials, you may have blocked the memories from your minds, but I haven’t. I remember all the dumb shit we got up to. I was there for the planking, the owling, the cinnamon challenge, parkour. I was there for wizard’s staffs and Edward 40-Hands (and if my parents are reading this, I was only there for those things after I turned 19). We never ate Tide Pods, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t absolute fucking idiots.
Teenagers are not a species made to last… there’s just too many hormones and too few brain cells. Honestly, it’s a miracle that any of us made it into adulthood. It’s easy to look back and laugh. However, if the goal is to improve on the wave of humanity that has gone before us, I’m not sure copying the behaviour of the adults we hated as teens is the right way to go about it.
I tend not to think of Tide Pods (too much) when I look at Gen Z. I see a generation of passionate teenagers dedicated to social justice, born into a world of disillusionment and post-9/11 nihilism and combating that darkness with positive action. I think of the American students who marched last week, many participating despite real threats of suspension and academic punishment, to demand a better future for their country.
My long and beleaguered point is this: Humans, as a species, are afraid of change. The fear is lodged somewhere deep in our lizard brains. Older people have been complaining about younger people since the dawn of recorded history, and we know that because it was part of recorded history—yes, believe it or not, they had edgy hot take Op-eds back in Ancient Rome.
I don’t know if it’s possible to break the cycle entirely, but I do believe it’s possible to do better. We should. We have to. If we don’t, we will become obsolete, and we will be held accountable for that by the ones who will follow after us. They’ve shown us that they have that power, and that gives me a lot of hope for the next generation.