Robbed of innocence and raised in fear: Blythewood students weigh in on the moments that shaped their generation

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BHS students relax before the start of the school day.

Sofia Rendon

Last Thursday, to better understand Generation Z, BHS students were asked what they believed were impactful moments to their generation.

Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2012, makes up about 74 million of the U.S. population and the over 2,000 student population of Blythewood. Over the past 19 years, they have witnessed a dramatic shift in how we live today, growing up or being born in one of the most progressive decades ever. They also lived in the face of uncertainty and fear, according to some of the students who were interviewed.

Many students responded with the September 11th attacks as their definitive moment, seeing that the aftermath of these tragic attacks changed how the U.S. viewed war, safety, and its citizens. “I think that a big event that affected Gen Z was 9/11,” answered freshman Roxanne Venegas,” Sure, most of us weren’t even alive then, but the impact the attack had on America stayed with us as we grew up. 9/11 was a pretty big turning point for America, as post 9/11 kids grew up only knowing the fear of another possible attack.”

Tia Pittman, a sophomore, responded similarly. “I feel like 9/11 changed everything. So many lives were lost that it made us change so much about our security for who or what gets into our country. It’s crazy to think about how one thing has changed our everyday life like that.”

Post 9/11 America left many in shambles for how to cope with devastation on that scale, but the American people eventually banded together to combat terrorism and better protect the values of the U.S. 

While 9/11 was a tragedy for those born earlier in Generation Z, school shootings have become a widespread tragedy for those born later. One of the more divisive topics these days, a freshman commented, “I really wanna say the recent ‘trend’ of school shootings around the United States. Now that they have been on the rise, it seems like we’re going to school with this subtle fear that this might be our last day, and that every threat or joke just makes it worse and a more constant thought in the back of our minds.” As of this printing, there have been 22 school shootings so far in 2019 alone.

While the rise of school shootings may have been a shock to Gen Z, the rise of social media was not. Generation Z has not known a life without technology like phones or powerful computers; before,  millennials were eased into the age of technology. The result of the advances was social media like Facebook or Youtube, which some Blythewood students say affected their views of people around them.

“I think that social media did a lot to our generation. It changed a lot of people’s personalities with all the trends and wanting to fit in, and it also changed how we spend our free time. Now we spend more time inside on our phones than going outside and doing things, which really separates us from the last generation,” said Christian Melendez, a junior.

There are about 223 million users in the U.S. who are on social media, according to Edison Research, all of them ages 12 and older.

Like the students of Blythewood, the defining moments of Gen Z are unique. These moments are ones of tragedy and triumph which are likely to never be seen again.