Op-Ed: Nihilism won’t save Gen Z, or this planet

by | Jul 9, 2021 | Environment, Opinion

As a member of Generation Z, aka Zoomer, I feel I am in a unique position to discuss the future my generation has to live with. Generation Z, or those born between 1995 and 2010 are some of the youngest members of our society. We’ve grown up in a world full of war, economic disaster, and climate disasters. These collective experiences have shaped us in a way many older adults could never truly understand.

The issues our society is currently facing have a direct influence on young people like me. We see economic collapse as a recurring problem, we see wars as unnecessary human violence, and climate change as a prime example of humanity’s utter failure to protect Mother Earth. We understand that climate change is not the fault of workers or consumers, but the fault of the capitalists who have proven time and time again that they will stop at nothing to pursue profit.

These problems have convinced many in my generation that the future is not only bleak, but that life itself is meaningless, since this rock we live on is dying. We may never be able to own homes, retire by 65, or even survive into our 70s or 80s. This is a potential future we have to deal with, that older generations can conveniently ignore. Having to live with these realities is not easy on our mental health either. According to Western Governors University, only 45 percent of Zoomers report that their mental health is “good” or “excellent.” Which is significantly lower than previous generations.

This mental health crisis, caused by the impending collapse of human civilization, is personified by our generation’s enjoyment of dark entertainment. For example, one of the most popular adult animated shows at the moment is Rick and Morty, an adventure show about a scientist that touches on dark themes such as nihilism and existentialism. This type of entertainment has even reached TikTok. If you spend 10 minutes on the video social media app, you’ll see many young people engage in not only dark humor but bleak and dark content in general. Take for example, the latest TikTok trending sound, a cover of a song by Matt Maltese titled, “As The World Caves In,” sung by Sarah Cothran. This song at its surface level is about a protagonist and their lover, spending their final moments together as nuclear war is about to annihilate all life on Earth. While not exactly a fairy tale love story, this song has captured the ears of a generation. Garnering over 30 million views on YouTube and over 20 million streams on Spotify, it’s safe to say this type of content resonates with young people.

Us young people face an uncertain future and many of us have found different ways to cope with this trauma, but I’m here to tell you that our future isn’t predetermined. I understand how easy it can be to succumb to nihilism and pessimism. However, doing so leaves us feeling helpless when the truth is, we have the ability to change the world we live in and our collective future, but only if we have the guts to stand up and fight. To save our planet and future, we need to begin a new era of human civilization, built around community and environmentalism, not profit and destruction.

Social Media Manager | + posts

Ben brings over four years of experience as a political communications manager and graphic designer to Texas Signal, where he serves as our Social Media Manager and does everything from designing graphics and posting on social media, to writing a column about current events. Ben was the Social Media Director for College Democrats of America during the historic 2018 midterms when Democrats swept the House of Representatives. Ben was a first-generation university student and graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.

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