Actress and dancer Sofia Wylie wearing high waisted skinny jeans vs low rise fit and flares. Picture: Instagram
Actress and dancer Sofia Wylie wearing high waisted skinny jeans vs low rise fit and flares. Picture: Instagram

Uncovering the generational divide of Gen Z vs Millennials

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Mar 29, 2021

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There’s a war being waged against Millennials by Gen Z, and it goes much deeper than whether side parts and skinny jeans should remain in style or not.

In a similar fashion to how teenagers wake up one day to the realisation that their parents aren't actually cool, but are instead really cringe, so have this group of tweens, teens and young adults accepted the fact that millennials are no longer relatable to them.

From how they wear their hair to the slang they use and the movie quotes they’re able to recite on demand, there’s a very obvious generational divide growing between them that seems to become more evident with each passing day. The most obvious display of this is freely available on social media.

As much as we all tried to put it off, most people over the age of 25 joined TikTok around March last year, even though the app launched over three years prior. Filled with 15 seconds to one minute long videos, the video-sharing app was initially dominated by Gen Z, aged between 6 and 24 years old, before everyone and their mom’s decided to join too.

A leisurely scroll through social media will open you up to the virtual disses filmed in 4k quality and insults hurled through screens as a result of Millennials being on Gen Z turf.

The online conflict started with videos of the younger generation poking fun at Millennials for their quirks. Whether it was mocking their obsession with coffee or their tendency to post their struggles with #adulting, screenshots of the comments these videos spawned have repeatedly gone viral on Twitter, showcasing that Zoomers (another term used for Gen Zers) have officially replaced Boomers as the number one roast master of Millennials.

Of course, Millennials have their own ammunition to use against Gen-Z. They’re the first generation raised by tablets and smartphones and their greatest claim to fame will always be that they made headlines back in 2018 for eating laundry detergent pods. Things really ramped up around February of this year when the younger generation tried to cancel fashion trends that have firmly been embedded in Millennial culture for more than a decade.

One TikTok user, a musician named Sarah Hester Ross, posted a diss track last month expressing her qualms with this using the lyrics:, "Hey Gen Z you can suck it, you can't tell me what to wear / 'Cause I've been rocking this side part since you had Kermit on your underwear — so cute!"

The comment section of that video has since been turned off, but before it was, it garnered a lot of backlash from many Zoomers who questioned what they had to do with the cyclical phasing out of these fashion trends. Pulling the ultimate Uno Reverse card one us all, the sound has also become a very popular way to further mock Millennials by using the song as a soundtrack for transforming themselves into older Millennials – deep side parts, skinny jeans, long camisoles, infinity scarfs, knee-high boots and all.

The most interesting aspect of this online spat is that Gen Z seems to be winning. Not because either insults are wittier or their argument have more of a factual edge, it’s simply the fact that everyone from the media to small businesses and corporate giants are presently emulating ideologies of the group.

Although Gen Z are young, they are a massively diverse generation and a rapidly expanding group of employees, customers, and voters set to spread their influence in all sectors ranging from film and television to fashion, politics and everything in between. This is precisely what puts them at such an advantage.

They are steadily moving into a position of having significant buying power, making brands and businesses very willing to hear them out and cater towards their every need and demand.

In an interview with Jason Dorsey, the leading Gen Z and Millennial generation keynote speaker and researcher, who wrote the book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business – and What to Do About It, Forbes published an article on how this group is expected to impact business for next 10 years or longer. In the article, Dorsey said: “Gen Z is the number one generation to write positive things online, to recommend brands and so forth. If you win them, you win them and their friends. It’s a huge opportunity.”

So, whether the world is ready for them or not, the reality is that for the time being, they’re going to be ruling the trend market for years to come, and guess what? We’ll all be hanging on to every word they say.

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