Guest Editorial: Audrey Adam

Gen Z seems to obsessed…with obsession itself. Audrey Adam (12) shares her views on why our generation has a tendency to fixate on trends.

Dozens of teenage boys flock to the nearby cinema in their Sunday best. Popcorn in hand, they halt for a brief photo-op before settling into their seats. What’s the special occasion, you ask? It’s the “Minions” movie premiere.

Over the summer, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” had an iron grip on our generation. When the film finally reached theaters, Gen Z rose to the occasion: “gentleminions” dressed in suits and ties and others in authentic minion getups, coating their faces in opaque yellow paint and adorning blue overalls. Minion TikToks seized the platform’s leaderboards, teenagers communicated in “minionese,” and Yeat, a famous rapper, even released a song called “Rich Minion.” We were obsessed with minions.

But before minions, we stole traffic signs to participate in the “devious lick” trend, and a few years before that, we ate Tide Pods for the sake of clout.

Our generation has a tendency to trend-seek. We are desperate to find our next hyper-fixation, and although the trends themselves differ, they all point to the same theme: Gen Z is infatuated with them.

It appears that today’s generation is obsessed… with obsession itself.

But what prompts teenagers to eat soap, or borrow Dad’s tuxedo?

Perhaps, trend participation is how our generation seeks community. Several studies published by the Journal of Adolescence show that from 2012 to 2018, “school loneliness increased … in 36 out of 37 countries.” But what makes us lonelier than previous generations?

We happen to be the first generation raised in a world of technology. Another study by the Radiological Society of North America Teenagers showed that cell phone addictions increased levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter correlated to depression and social anxiety, in regions of the brain. Technology gives us access to another world, one where we can hide our bad haircut, braces and self-doubt behind a username. Social media, being the one thing all teenagers seem to share, becomes the place we all try to connect with each other. Even though our screen time is what makes us lonelier, we still seek community through our phones.

We figure if we can participate in a trend or if our video goes viral, we can be part of something larger than ourselves. We can belong. This becomes our driving force, one capable of moving us to obsess. We order yellow paint on Amazon or contemplate if soap poisoning can really be that bad, because for us, to be part of a trend is to be part of a small community. And with TikTok and Instagram ceaselessly pumping out endless amounts of content every day, these trends emerge and die quickly, causing Gen Z to rapidly divert their focus to the next one.

We aren’t obsessed with Minions, John Cena jokes, or “unspoken rizz” for no reason. Sure, these trends are funny, creative and fun, but in a society so rich of polarization and hate, our generation really just seeks community.

We have turned the internet into our solution, making it a place to laugh, dance and connect with each other in a unique way.

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