OPINION: Gen Z is desensitized


Dylan Walker

Opinion writer Dylan Walker watches “Euphoria” on his laptop.

Dylan Walker, Opinion Writer

I enjoy filling my spare time, however rare, with a wide array of content. From TikTok to hour-long HBO originals, there is so much media to consume. It’s a nice release of energy. Seemingly mindless and genuine brain rot. But when and where do I draw the line?

A show that has stuck with me ever since its debut is HBO’s smash hit “Euphoria.” The first time I sat down to watch it in late 2019, I stopped halfway through the pilot. There was a violent sex scene that involved a transgender character that immediately had me question my choice to watch the series. It felt so intense, and as someone part of the vast queer community, it was so close to home. This was real. These are actual situations queer people find themselves in and it blew my mind to see it depicted in such a raw manner on national television.

So I stopped watching.

I let a few weeks go by, tried it again and made it through the first episode. Like, phew. Now only seven more to go. The show constantly showcases teenage drug use, sex and sexuality, and it encapsulates it perfectly. Sure, the show is extreme but at its core, proves Gen Z is a different kind of generation.

Gen Z is the generation that grew up with a plethora of internet access. From Internet Explorer to the iPod touch, it was at our fingertips from early on. With it being so accessible we had an unknown world in front of us, so we took it and ran. From early on, we were on social media and watching television shows such as “13 Reasons Why,” which debuted before I was even out of middle school. Based on the book of the same name, the Netflix original series revolved around teenage mental health, and is known for depicting intense and graphic self-harm scenes. Twelve-year-olds were watching this. Middle schoolers were undoubtedly consuming it behind their parents’ backs, and I can attest – my friends did.

My parents were always very aware of what was going on in pop culture and when “13 Reasons Why” was gaining popularity I was immediately banned from watching it. Rightfully so. Looking back I couldn’t believe some kids my age were even enjoying the show. What was there to enjoy? It always felt like the show was targeted toward the young adult audience but 13 is no young adult, that is a teen.

Consuming this media feels normal to us. So normal that we use phrases like “kill yourself” and “I want to die” in our daily conversations. Something that should be concerning when heard, but with Gen Z it’s meant jokingly. The media we as Gen Z have consumed plays a key role in this.

Gen Z is the generation with quirks both literally and figuratively. The scariest part of it all is that sometimes we are so unaware of how desensitized we truly are. So normal we don’t even bat an eye. We will sit down Sunday night at 9 p.m. for “Euphoria” and watch Rue battle substance abuse, and we will continue to post memes about it.

As a Gen Z-er, memes began during our time growing up. No matter how dark, I will inevitably laugh. This is a perfect example of how we as a generation react to this type of humor in our scarily desensitized way. From TikToks to tweets, the internet loves Euphoria Sundays. There’s not a Sunday that would go by during season two that wouldn’t result in an abundance of memes. In the first episode of season two, the supporting character Maddy made Twitter and TikTok erupt as she banged on a bathroom door trying to find her boyfriend who was actively cheating on her.

It’s things like this that make me really question what media we as Gen Z consume and find funny. The real question is what’s scarier? The current state of Gen Z or what Generation Alpha will bring into society? Only time will tell.

Dylan Walker is an opinion writer. Contact him at [email protected]