Generation Z and the Motion for Progress: How a Generation who Grew Up on Dystopian Novels and Book are Changing the World

By: Chelsea Igtanloc

With movements such as Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, and United We Dream, Generation- Z is at the front lines advocating for social change for racial injustices all across the country. And although it’s crazy to find adolescents marching in the streets and calling out politicians and governments, it should not come off as surprising at all. In fact, it makes complete sense that our generation is speaking up and making movements to change nonfunctioning systems that have been in place for too long. BLM, United We Dream, March for Our Lives, and countless other youth-led movements today fuel the fire for change in this world, but what do you expect from young adults who grew up on novels, movies, and even musicals based on that very concept? Change was simply never a foreign concept to us, since we were able to learn about it through the power of our own library cards.

Novels like Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, and Divergent fueled this generation. These novels all center around a common theme: teenagers fighting against some form of evil or oppression and saving the world. From books to movies to halloween costumes and fanfiction- Gen Z idolized characters such as Tris Prior and Katniss Everdeen. In a study conducted in 2016, it showed that 49% of teenagers ranging from 15–17 in the United States have read the Harry Potter series. I remember most of my own middle school conversations revolved around which faction we would be a part of and what our roles would be in helping the protagonists. We visualized and imagined our role as activists in their society, but little did we know that it was the blueprint for what would be our own. A large part goes into seeing ourselves in the main characters and how (even though these were works of fiction) they were able to go from being ‘just regular teenagers’ to being the catalyst for a new society. These fictitious people gave us real hope and the ultimate power to believe in ourselves, the ingredients to what makes a powerful movement.

When you start seeing young people your age change the world, you start to think you can too. Pairing that energy with this generation’s most powerful tool, social media, this generation has proven unstoppable. Youth use social media in every which way: connecting to people worldwide, posting their truths on their accounts, and finding resources that they might not have seen without apps. So many opportunities at our fingertips and it only makes sense to use them to their fullest extent. Youth and young adults take all of their talents and combine them in a communal effort for change. Artists making infographics with information that demands attention, poets and writers putting such complex emotions and needs into words, and speakers giving voice to those who feel like they may not have one. This is what the characters in the books, movies, and shows we idolized when we were younger did, so it makes that we do the same. Power lies in the youth and young adults of today and the works that fueled their upbringings. Continue the efforts so that the youth and young adults of tomorrow can still see Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior alive beyond the pages.