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Zoomer Anxiety and Avoidance of Conflict, Contact, and Communication. Why is This Happening? Explain it to me Please.

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Okay! I need your help.

I’m not old. I don’t think I am. Oh shit, maybe I am sometimes. BUT I try and keep up. I really do… I’m always open to learning and listening…Well, here I go with another “but”… Oh the kids of today… Lmao.

Yes. I believe I just actually said that…now I need your help with understanding the Zoomers.

Some observations: The Zoomers of today appear to be extra shy, more anxious, less willing to try new things, not interested in work, rather communicate online than in person, and don’t want to stand out in any way (no attention please…positive/negative/neutral).

I want to know why young people don’t want to connect with others.

Things I’ve been told from Gen Zeds/Zees AKA Gen Z AKA Zoomers…all born between 2000-2010.

“I don’t want to call the computer help line because I’ll have to “talk to a stranger”.

“That stranger won’t like me.”

“They’ll think I’m an idiot.”

“I won’t know what to say.”

“I’d rather eat the incorrect order that the server brought than send it back.”

“I don’t want to go into the store and have to ask for help. Then I’ll have to talk to a real person… and a stranger no less.”

“It doesn’t matter that I got the wrong order at a restaurant. Even though I hate the food she brought and I may be allergic, I won’t send it back. I’d never do that. And, I’ll still leave a big tip too.”

Anyone who says or does anything negative, disparaging, entitled, or obnoxious is a Karen” (or the male equivalent–Kyle, Ken, Kevin…).

There’s no middle ground for a boomer who may be trying to make a point. Yes, sometimes…they actually have a point.

Are there any Gen Zs out there….or even some Millennials, who can explain all of this to me please.

Auntie Lesson:

We’re all different and we have different masks that we put on when we leave the house. Though the package is the same, we act different at work than we do at home, and different again when we’re talking to a neighbor.

What I think we have to remember is that you’re judging yourself before anyone else is and as a result you’re not even giving that other person a chance. That’s not very fair. Check out this post about calling yourself fat— totally judgmental against those you don’t want to offend. It’s a bit twisted.

The Auntie Lesson really is: Don’t let life pass you by because of fear and anxiety. Everyone else has their own issues and really aren’t looking at yours. Be Kind. Be positive.

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14 thoughts on “Zoomer Anxiety and Avoidance of Conflict, Contact, and Communication. Why is This Happening? Explain it to me Please.”

  1. I call it “flipping the lens”. I’m 33, I’ve spent my whole life behaving in social situations as if I’m looking at myself from the other person’s point of view. As someone who hates discomfort and confrontation to a fault, I tend to behave in a way that doesn’t cause this for the person I’m interacting with as well. It’s entirely an anxiety thing. Where this anxiety comes from I don’t know, but I don’t think a lot of younger people (my generation included) grew up with the tools to flip that lens back in front of themselves instead, somehow. The perception, too, is that boomers are on the opposite side of the extreme, that they have a harder time seeing themselves from another’s point of view. That’s my take, anyway. I think both extremes aren’t ideal and a middle ground is necessary, but as an individual all you can really do is try your best.

    1. Tom! Yes. This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
      It’s interesting that the Boomers are seen as so entitled. I’ve never thought of it before. I’m right on the cusp of boomer and Gen X and obviously didn’t pay much attention to the older people as I shyly barreled through school and life. I always felt the same anxiety I think but it was poo-poo’d and you were told to pull up your socks and get on with it.
      Now, if anyone says anything its criticism. ie: the Karen etc.
      This is so fascinating.
      I know many zoomers who would rather crawl into a dark hole than confront anything.
      Tom, Do you think that’ll change with age? I’m curious whether you still feel that anxiety or whether with maturity and growth it fell off a bit.
      I so respect someone for respecting others but it also breaks my heart to see how some young people are SO hard on themselves. They’re pre-judging that other person (ie a server in a restaurant) and that doesn’t seem fair either.
      Is this a generational thing or will it change?

  2. Millennials are seen as entitled too. I think that it’s all just different generations not fully understanding the experiences that the older/younger generations have and trying to understand them and generalize things from their own point of view. A lot gets lost in translation, and the members of their own generation will agree with them and cause an echo chamber. I think it will always be that way.

    Boomers will never understand what it’s like to grow up with the internet and how that shaped us. I will never understand what it was like to have a nagging fear of nuclear war every day like older Boomers and the generations before them did and how it shaped them. My biggest life-changing event here in the US was 9/11, and that seemed to affect my parents more than it affected me at 15. When I left college there was not a job to be found, which is not what my parents had to deal with.

    These days kids aren’t taught to suppress their anxiety or depression anymore, and therapy doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. The rub there is that we have a world of young people who feel free to project their anxiety, and I think that makes people more anxious! To answer your question, I don’t really think it’ll change with age. I believe you kind of are who you are as a young person and an old person. I still feel that anxiety, but it comes out in different ways (especially having a family, oh man, I wasn’t prepared for how much that would actually increase it!). I too think this is a very interesting conversation, and I’m glad you opened up the floor!

    1. Thank you Tom. I must say that you and I are very much on the same page.
      The biggest event I remember actually impacting my adult life was also 9/11. Even though I’m in Canada, the threat from outside sources became very real.
      As a kid I remember the American hostage in Iran but I think it was the Canadian connection that resonated. I didn’t really understand what was going on.
      With the Zoomers there world IS completely different. Instant knowledge, gaming, zoning out… all of that.
      So many are mega smart but so introverted and anxious. Showing, or owning, ones anxiety sometimes feels to me like a feather in the cap… a bit of a crutch.
      The idea of …oh, can’t do that, I’m too anxious and parents not wanting to push because of self-harm and suicide rates….like omg….a black hole of spinning emoitons that never get dealt with and like you say—projected onto others.
      I hope you’re wrong about changing with age. Learning coping mechanisms–I know I’m not the same person I was when I was 20.
      *Sigh* I know feel like I understand more and can look with new eyes. I’m hopeful though for a generation that is sensitive and oh so smart…I hope they go out and make the world a better place.

      On another note…anxiety and parenthood…I can definitely relate. I’m gonna do a post on it. especially the forgotten dads.

  3. A comment regarding this issue was left on my Instagram so I’ve copied it here. The comment comes from a teacher: “Workshops I’ve attended on this topic attribute it to social media addiction/dependance and a more trauma-informed society.”

    Thank you Shawn for commenting. The part that really caught me was “trauma-informed society”. This is fascinating and sad all at once. I know when I was a kid, I had no idea really what was happening in the world. Now, for this first generation of techno kids the information is so constant and instant. Whether the cyber bullying or getting details on world events…including live-feeds etc.

    Thank you for the insight.

    1. You’re welcome. We’re getting better at responding to the knowledge that a kid who’s experiencing trauma may not be in a headspace optimal for learning. It’s Mazlov’s Heirarchy of Needs in action. They have to be safe to learn. A lot of things influence our perceptions of safety: abuse, illness, deaths of loved ones, pandemics, forest fire evacuations… Learning to make accommodations for that neurological situation helps re-build safe learning spaces.

      A concrete example in my classes last year: I have a spoken word poetry assignment linked to my Othello unit. 1/3 of the mark is usually performance based. This year, I told them since I know that part adds significant stress on kids, and because this is not a year any of us want more stress, that I was cutting out the performance portion. The entire room sighed with relief and in every class the news was greeted with heart-felt THANK YOUs. Even from the drama kids.

      Next year, presuming our trauma state is gone, I will put the performance part back in. It’s fun. A bit of stress is okay, and they usually love to hear others’ work and feel good after they’ve finished performing theirs. Some kids I will watch, and quietly excuse them if necessary. But last year, we were all on a tipping point ready to crumble. Safety first.

      1. Thanks for stopping by Shawn. Question: what do you think of the social anxiety that’s noticed with zoomers? The avoidance of people, and social situations? Another reader talked about turning the lens on himself… As a teacher do you see that? Where they’re so afraid to offend, make an error, or insult someone so they freeze? This makes it difficult for many of the young people in social and employment situations. I’m curious if you see this at school? or if you think it’ll change? Thanks again for stopping by. So appreciated. xo

      2. It is rarer for kids to speak up in class, for sure. I think there is a fear of being wrong, and seen as stupid, or being mocked for their opinion. There seems to be a paralyzing expectation of perfection from the beginining, with no tolerance of the mistakes one has to make to learn.

        I think the fear is also legitimate. In social media, anonymity makes folks ferocious and free to be devastatingly critical.

        The other thing is that teens are meant to be breaking from families and attaching to friend groups, it’s normal development to care about fitting into the group. Now they will get texts at all hours of the day and night. Even parents will freak out of kids don’t immediately message back during the school day. No concern about disturbing their own or other kids’ learning.

        It’s a new world out there!

      3. Hey Shawn. Thanks for sharing. I agree with you 100%. Especially the social media and anonymity. That in itself is overwhelming and can get ultra nasty.
        I know I’ve also seen the parents freaking out at the drop of a hat and unwilling to let go. It’s tough to watch. I can’t imagine it in the classroom as a teacher.
        One thing you said really sticks out though and that this perceived notion of perfection…This is killing kids spirits. Seriously. I know so many who’d rather simply quit whatever because they’re not good enough or they’re afraid to disappoint. The who perfection thing–did it come from the internet?–I guess to a degree it’s always been there and as kids get more accepting and schooled on personal identity etc. they seem to shrink their own. Does that make sense? While they can celebrate the masses the self deprecation of self is rampant. It’s a really complex thing and yes…it certainly is a new world out there! Thanks Shawn. Appreciate your input. xoxo

  4. I’m a gen Xer but I’m going to give my opinion based on observations. I homeschooled my kids, and I work in a dental office. When I see kids my own children’s ages and try to engage, I get crickets. Most of the time, if not all of the time, these other kids are on some type of device. And my last observation is when I took my middle daughter to the dermatologist the 1st time, her Dr started talking to her. She asked my daughter about her school, and my daughter told her she was homeschooled. The dr said she could tell, bc public school kids don’t look her in the eye when talking, if they even respond. My theory is that they have TOO much technology that they don’t know how to interact with people. Real people. And it paralyzes them. I can’t say that about every single one of them. It probably would change depending on family interactions as well. But by and large we live in societies where parents are all too happy to give their kids devices, bc it shuts them up. At least in the U.S. But there’s all kinds of studies that show that’s a terrible idea. Kids’ brains are still developing.

    1. Hey KS. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree with the idea of too much tech being used by kids.
      The zoomers are really the first generation to always have it in their life.
      I have experienced many of the similar things you say about entering a room and saying hello and not being acknowledged. That to me…I don’t care how old the kid is…is simply rude and totally unacceptable. That is a definite parenting issue.
      The schools are a huge issue. I agree. I’ve met some homeschool kids who have no clue abut the reality of life….again, everything is about balance.
      One thing I find with the zoomers is the acceptance and projection of anxiety. It drives me crazy. Everything and everyone is very sensitive and you must tread carefully in fear of setting off an anxiety attack or worse.
      I know parents who worry about their children being suicidal. Whether they are or not is the question… Ugh.
      It’s so difficult but I do agree that limiting screen is key. Brains continue to develop thru to at least 25 years old.
      Many of these gen-z’s are still pretty young and finding their way in the world but it is really tough to watch….and try and help them. sigh….
      Thanks so much KS. I so appreciate your take on the situation. Having the conversation will hopefully help someone along the way. xoxo

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