Cautious, careful, and frightened. These are the words the Gen Zs in our panel used most to describe their state of mind last weekend. It’s far too early to say how this pandemic will redefine society and culture, but what we’ve observed in the early days of COVID-19 life is many anxious Zs are seeking safety and control in a familiar place – activism.
Before the coronavirus, Gen Zs were rejecting the outlets previous generations relied on to get through tough times. Fewer Zs were having sex, dating, doing drugs or partying. Instead, they were optimizing their health, rebelling for good, and planning their takeover of American politics. As Everyday Activists, Gen Zs were ringing in a new era of protest culture, flash philanthropy and change-making movements, and redefining activism as an urgent and all-encompassing endeavor. This hasn’t changed.
In the early days of this pandemic, we’re watching Zs lean into activism in new ways. Some examples:
The Coronavirus has forced college students to head home and transition to online classes to contain the outbreak. For many, loneliness and isolation followed. Enter OKZoomer, a matching service that connects college students from around the country to new friends or potential partners. In only a few days, OKZoomer has 6,000 unique facilitated 1,739 “blind dates” and counting.
Meanwhile, over in Seattle, Avi Schiffmann, 17-year-old high school junior created a website tracking the coronavirus back in December, before the virus was detected outside of China. Today his site is one of the most vital resources for accurate and updated numbers on the pandemic and has been visited by millions of people around the world. Check out Avi’s site at nCoV2019.live.
And Zs are making a difference in their local communities too. In NYC, Liam Elkind, 20, a college junior at home for spring break created InvisibleHandsDeliver.com, a free service that delivers groceries and other supplies to vulnerable people in the NYC community. In three days, over 800 volunteers signed up to help with the program.
For many Gen Zs, activism is an essential part of their identity. It’s the way they channel their frustrations and challenge authority. Zs are engaged, informed, and they’re already leveraging their creativity and digital expertise to make positive change in this new era.