What does it mean to exist in the world today? As we passively consume social media content, we are bombarded with constant news and struggle with seeing a future beyond the pandemic. It is clear that life is meant to be lived, and felt, rather than letting it pass us by.
For Gen Z, it is all about living fully in the small moments — be it llighting a candle, or indulging in iced coffee — a contrast to previous generations who were tied down with the ‘rat race’ and a desire to move up the corporate ladder.
Instead, Gen Z wants to be able to work on their own terms, dictate their own life and not be under the control of anyone else. It’s a generation of rule-breakers, wanting to take days off for their mental health and find unconvential ways to make a living, such as social media.
Over the past year, the biggest trend on social media has been ‘romanticising your life’. There are countless TikTok videos which portray regular life as something beautiful and exciting. Many YouTubers post content advising young people to quit their 9-5 and pursue a more exciting life.
But these trends can be dangerous as the majority of users are young teenagers, and they spread rapidly across all social media platforms. For example, I find the trend of women not wanting to work extremely sinister. For decades women fought to have the right to work, not because ‘working is fun’ but because it gives us economic freedom. This trend is encouraging women to be dependent on men, which can easily turn into financial abuse. It suggests that domestic work can be done unpaid as the women are wives or mothers, when it is infact a form of labour.
This trend is not feminist revolt against capitalism but repackaging the patriarchy and damaging teenage girls who consume this content and think that this is what they should aspire towards. It also fails to consider women of colour, who had no option but to work in order to support themselves while white women were still at home. Every trend relating to capitalism cannot be separated from its violent links to colonialism, as the impacts felt by Black and Brown people will always be far greater. Women of colour are amongst the lowest paid workers, so how is it revolutionary to tell them to quit their job and stay at home with a man?
After the pandemic, it can be difficult to imagine a generation who has grown up with these ideas wanting to be a part of working culture as we know it. Gen Z has revolutionised the future of work through TikTok, but is this sustainable? Is it possible for people to not have any greater career ambitions? Will this ultimately lead to the downfall of capitalism if it continues past social media and into our real lives? Will this disproportionately affect women and ethnic minorities who are already discriminated against in the working world? These are all questions to unpack as we begin to see the long-term effects of social media trends in the world.