Gen Z’ers Are Not Monsters

They may be displaying reckless behavior as they pack the beaches, but we need to put their behavior in context

A lot of people are furious about college kids going about their Spring break as though the world is not experiencing a pandemic. As they pack the beaches in Florida, the ire of citizens everywhere is pointed at their selfishness. They are not only endangering themselves but the whole population with their unwillingness to take this crisis seriously.

I get it. I feel pretty mad at them, too. But I started thinking about something that made me soften a little. These kids are behaving the way they are to a great degree because they have become hardened to threats and danger. They have had to.

This generation of kids has never lived in a time that mass school shootings were not a threat. They have suffered the loss of innocence that so many of us enjoyed, who were raised in a kinder, gentler time. ( Okay, I know it wasn’t really, but at least we didn’t fear for our lives every day we went to school.)

These children have watched the adults in this country sit back and do nothing to make their world safer, as we pander to gun lobbies and gun manufacturers. We have more or less said to them, “Sorry kids. This is just the way it is. Hate it for you, but maybe you’ll get lucky and live to graduate.”

Holy F@&k! How would you feel if you were a kid and all the adults in your world refused to make the world safer for you because it would hurt someone’s bottom line? If I was a Gen X’er, I’d give all the adults in the world the finger, too.

So there you go, basically that is what they are doing. They have lived in a world that is so unsafe that a virus that they can’t even see does not phase them. And yes, they are young and foolish. And you could argue they are being selfish, because their behavior is putting others at risk, and I would agree. But we, as the adults in the world, have basically let them down time and time again. They are hardened.

Because they have lived under the threat of death every day they have walked through the doors of a school — or a movie theater, or a mall, or a concert — they have learned to live as though life is only ever going happen in this moment. They live like they are going to die at any time. And it makes them look selfish and uncaring.

The people who are selfish and uncaring are the adults who are in charge of their world who have thrown them away. They feel expendable. Less important than the bottom line of the AK47 manufacturers.

Yes, they are probably spreading the virus like crazy. And sadly, some of them may end up getting gravely ill, as it is now being shown that a great portion of people being hospitalized are in the 20–44 year old age bracket.

But when a kid being interviewed, as he partied on the beach, said, “If I get corona, I get corona,” he wasn’t being flip or crass or showing a disregard for everyone else in the world. He was saying, “I have never known when I might die by gunfire, so if I get this, what difference does it make?”

These kids are trying to live their lives while they can.

The governor of Florida does not want to hurt the economy so he is refusing to shut down the beaches. This pandemic is causing us to make some really hard decisions. How can we make decisions that don’t hurt anyone? We can’t. But you can’t blame kids for being on the beach when the governor is giving them the green light to be there. Are they supposed to be the mature ones? They just aren’t. They are kids.

Since the governor won’t act, the mayors of Florida cities with popular beaches are making the decision to do so. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa are all closing their beaches. This really sucks for these kids who have lived for this time in their lives. But it has to be done because they are not going to leave on their own.

It is the right thing to do for the good of everyone. For the safety of not just the kids themselves, but for their families and anyone else they come in contact with. We can’t let them spread this more than they probably already have. So the mayors are being the adults in the room.

Isn’t it a crying shame that there could not be some adults in the room who could protect these kids from being the target of a mass murderer on their campuses, the way they are attempting to protect them from a virus?

Don’t be so hard on Gen Z. They are doing the best they can with the world we have given them. If we can’t model for them the way we should all take care of the the vulnerable, (including kids sitting in classrooms)how can we expect them to act any differently?

Human learning to be human. Writing in hopes of getting there.

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