Breaking News
  • All of our WBTV broadcasts are now on Warrior Watch! Click "WBTV" in the menu.
  • Have a story idea? Email
The Student News Source of West Branch Area High School

Warrior Watch

The Student News Source of West Branch Area High School

Warrior Watch

The Student News Source of West Branch Area High School

Warrior Watch

Generation Z: The Generation Defined by Masks?

Image/Graphics by Markus Winkler on Pixabay
Is the COVID-19 pandemic the defining moment of Generation Z?

Every generation is defined by a significant event. The Silent Generation grew up in the Great Depression. The Baby Boomers are known for being born in the post-WWII baby boom. Generation X is known for the end of the Cold War. Millennials are known for the Great Recession, the creation of social media, and avocado toast. Notice a trend? Many of these notable events are tragedies or otherwise significant events (not including avocado toast).

Now that the youngest Generation Z members are seven years old, it’s time to wonder, what’s this generation’s notable event? To me, the answer is pretty clear.

The COVID-19 pandemic definitely meets the parameters to be a defining moment of a generation: nearly three and a half million deaths worldwide, massive economic damage, and many missed opportunities due to quarantine. Even though Generation Z may not be the most vulnerable to the virus, in my opinion, it’s the generation most affected by it.

The ages of people in Generation Z range from seven to 24 years old, which is almost the exact age group that would be enrolled in K-12 education and postsecondary schooling. Education has taken a big hit due to COVID-19. Remote learning is draining many post-secondary students of their college experience from the lack of a “campus life”. Socially distant seating at lunch tables is creating a lack of socialization in high school. Face masks are preventing elementary students from properly learning languages.

However, face masks aren’t just “face cages”, as I’ve heard them called. They do more good than harm, as they’re the reason why many countries have eradicated the virus. See, if a person coughs, sneezes, or even talks while wearing a face mask, water droplets from the wearer’s mouth that could potentially contain the virus get caught in the face mask itself, rather than on a nearby individual.

Face masks, or face coverings if the wearer chooses to wear a neck gaiter or a bandana, are even more than a face cage or a life-saver. They’re icons. They’re what people think of when they hear the word “Coronavirus”. I can even imagine future generations wearing face masks to “decade day” to represent the 2020s during a future spirit week.

It is also important to not only discuss the impact the virus has had on Generation Z, but also the effects this pandemic will have on every person across the globe. Considering that I can’t watch reruns of television programs of live studio audiences not wearing masks without cringing, I think it’s safe to say that there will be lasting effects on anyone who is currently living through the pandemic. I am confident that there will be a group of people that will keep wearing masks during cold and flu season, especially in high-spread places such as the airport. I also think that there will be a group of people that will be more likely to hoard essential supplies, such as toilet paper.

Most of all, the Coronavirus has been an eye-opener for all. Education, jobs, and even relationships between people were halted for a solid three to six months. Everyone, from young kids to the elderly, learned to adapt to using technology as a source of communication. Gen Z especially got the short end of the stick, considering that they are the target age group for education. However, there is a factor that many people aren’t paying attention to, and it happens to be that this pandemic has taught the world to be resilient. Everyone living now has experience adjusting to new circumstances, which will eventually prove to be useful at a later date.

Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic (including face masks) is a defining moment for Generation Z. It’s something that every single Gen Z-er has to personally struggle with. Once Generation Z, along with every other generation alive, overcomes the pandemic, I don’t think that there will be anything that this generation can’t do.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Noah Fry
Noah Fry, Retired Staff
Hi! I'm Noah, a West Branch alumnus from the Class of 2022. I was involved with Media Arts for all four years of high school, from 2018 to 2022. I currently attend Penn State University with hopes to get my degree in Meteorology and pursue a career in forecasting!