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Issue 17 Out Now

The Smarter, Broker, Show-off Generation: Are we Thriving and Slaying the Game?

Who wore it better? Which of them is richer? We ask questions like these every day as we obsess overpeople whose lives we think we want, but really, we want to ask, “Who is better at hiding reality?” We ask questions like these every day because we dream of becoming like the people we see in the media. Of course, not everything we see in the media is inauthentic, just as not everything is authentic. Still, we have evolved to glamorize the grind and boast about not sleeping, pulling up all-nighters in the hopes of becoming what we see on the internet. As a generation that expects so much from ourselves that we end up devoting a huge part of our lives to impressing others, are we really living or simply existing?

As a college student, I have sacrificed my sleep many times to get some readings done, take an exam deep in the night, or catch up with my extracurricular activities. I have often found myself entangled in the “sleep is for the weak” mindset. At some point in the semester, people do not really bother asking others how they’re doing because it is almost as if we all have a script that we read from. Almost all the answers are either “I am tired” or something along the lines of “I am hanging in there.” Now that I am technically on a break from the semester's worth of academic responsibilities, I wonder why we all feel the same fatigue at some point in the semester. We are all trying to get good grades that we believe will take us to our dreams for the future. We are trying to impress our professors (and sometimes our mates) with our performances, but in doing so, we prioritize struggling over taking time to cater for ourselves.

In so many ways, this generation of youngsters has elevated the materialistic aspect of life and has downplayed the interiority of an individual’s life. Just yesterday, I talked with a friend that everyone seems so happy, but we are not. She asked me if we are doing something wrong or we are just not good at pretending. It is a fact that this generation has many technological advantages, which supposedly bridge distances and bring people together virtually, but they have also created empty spaces in communities. The virtual world is luxurious, too perfect, and gives people hope for an unachievable utopian world that they can be happy without dealing with human interactions. In addition to hyper-fixating on materialistic culture, this generation also thrives on feeding people and themselves with false hopes and false realities of what realness is.

People are fascinated with showing off and appearing to be doing well over taking care of one’s needs mentally and physically. It is effortless to take a picture with your friend, post them on social media, and pretend you are good than it is to sit down and resolve conflicts. This study showed that the regular posting of pictures on social media could increase narcissism in people. We pretend to like one another when in fact, we see one another as our competition. We are in a better world in terms of communication and forming associations, but the truth is we are very lonely. No, I am not talking about social media here. I know many people who do not fancy social media, but that does not mean they are better off. Studies have shown that Gen Z is the loneliest generation, not because of social media. This article from the USA today describes how a decline in social interactions and forming associations have resulted in the breeding of a generation shadowed by the doom of loneliness. For example, The Addiction Center of the USA notes in a study that at least one in 5 Americans feel isolated when they are with other people and that many of their relationships are not as meaningful as they want them to be.

What is the bottom line, then? That is not my place. I am not here to prescribe solutions for a generation obsessed with the illusion of perfection at the expense of reality. I am a part of that generation, and as an individual, I can say that we need to take a few steps back and ask questions. For example, what was the world like before productivity culture overpowered the world? What did relationships look like before capitalism took over every aspect of lives? How did communities look like before we started praising the island behavior (where we praise people for being independent even in situations where they needed a support system)? There is an Adinkra symbol (and a saying) in Ghanaian cultures that says “Sankofa, yenkyi,” which means to go back and take (or relearn) something is not a forbidden act. Being advanced than the previous generations is something we claim, but we can learn a thing or two from them.

Success should not mean secluding ourselves from our community. Thriving should not be anonymous with posting pictures, claiming, or inferring we have things that we don’t. We need to be aware of our surroundings and practice open-mindedness. We should prioritize our relationships, health, and general well-being just as much as we prioritize the grind or anything for that matter. We have a long way to go, but we will begin to get close to one another and ourselves if we make a collective effort!

Works Cited/Referenced:

  1. Trinko, K. (2018, May 03). Gen z is the loneliest generation, and it’s not just because of social media. Retrieved June 25, 2021, from

  2. New study Reveals Gen Z the LONELIEST generation in America. (2020, November 20). Retrieved June 25, 2021, from

  3. Study Finds, About the AuthorStudy FindsView StudyFinds’s article archive, Finds, A., & Archive, V. (2018, November 12). Posting selfies frequently on social MEDIA Increases narcissism in people, study finds. Retrieved June 25, 2021, from

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