I was asked to come up with another nickname for “Generation Z”, the generation that includes people born between 1995 and 2009. As someone born right on the edge of the new millennium, I took it to heart to come up with a better moniker for my own generation.
“The Future is Bright”.
We are told as young kids that the future is bright. The future is ours. We shape our destinies. There are a few major inconsistencies between fantasy and reality. Yes, the future is bright, but it will be even brighter than anticipated if the hole in the ozone layer continues to grow because of unchecked CFC release into the atmosphere.
A fallout can be many things. A fallout with a friend or family member, the fallout of a deal or agreement, or nuclear fallout. Fallout is defined by Merriam Webster as: “a secondary and often lingering effect, result, or set of consequences”. My generation is the Fallout Generation because we will be seeing the tidal wave of consequences of previous generations’ actions unlike ever before. It is a pattern of history that each generation delivers new and old problems to the generations that follow, including economic troubles, a crumbling of morality, or even a war. Today’s young people will be served an unwanted first course of the climate crisis, followed by a second course of widespread bankruptcy, the collapse of Social Security and Medicare, and a tenuous and rocky state of foreign policy. Dessert will be the problem of North Korea and nuclear proliferation, topped with the possibility of nuclear fallout. We are the Fallout Generation because we are the ones who must find out how to deal with the fallout of people’s decisions and lack of foresight long before we were born.
We are also the Fallout Generation for a slightly less pessimistic reason: the fact that we will be the first adults to have grown up with technology for our entire lives, thanks to the Internet. Even just up to this point, there have been unpredicted effects of the Internet, like the end of Blockbuster video stores, and the decline in movie theater attendance, department store business due to online shopping, and newspaper subscriptions. Because of the immense impact of the Internet, we see a not-so-subtle change in the way people interact with each other as well. Conversations can happen between two people across the world with Skype and texting, but calling and in-person relationships between neighbors right next door are becoming rare. The Post Office limits its hours even more because nobody writes letters anymore, after all, we have email. We move towards a cashless society more and more with technology that allows for credit and debit wherever we go, and even more recent concepts of bitcoins and sending money electronically through apps like Venmo. The fallout from the Internet’s success has impacted society in ways that touch society and human behavior alike. “Generation Z” will be the guinea pigs to see what kind of adults the Internet age has raised.
The future can still be bright. It will just require more effort to overcome the fallout from the past and navigate through virtually uncharted waters in a new digital age.