I'm sorry to inform you, but if you were born between 1996 and 1998, the game is up. We've been caught out. Despite scampering into the Gen Z category (by the skin of our teeth), the younger portion of our generation are not having one bar of it. So if you snickered when millenials the world over were pronounced cheugy, mostly in relief and to avoid suspicion on being a phony, the moment of inevitable whiplash has come. Baby Gen Zer's have turned around to say "not so fast". They've denounced us as part of the tribe and in doing so have bestowed us with a label as cutting as cheugy: the geriatric Gen Zer.
Coined by Insider, the new term riffs on its elder cousin 'the geriatric millennial' and although the eldest among us may only be 26, the title has prematurely aged us like romaine lettuce. Sure, there are worse things than being dubbed old, and certainly even worse things than being old — we are not here to add to the tide of endless ageism, and to those who are, grow up. But to drag the pandemic into conversation once more, this term has caught us at a fragile moment. Everyone has grieved life lost in the past two years, but for elder Gen Z's, Covid-19 has poured cold water on our early twenties, a period supposed to be filled with firsts and fun. Now we're all older, contending with pressure to buy a house, hold down a job and all the trimmings of a life steered by convention, and the pesky baby Gen Z's want to add being uncool to the pile? I'm opting out.
So if you can pinpoint a millennial by their cursive font invitations, Glossier collection and Harry Potter tattoos, what are the hallmarks of geriatric Gen Zer's? They're old enough to remember their dad shouting at their older siblings to get off the phone so that they can use the internet, unlike the younger Gen Z's who have never not known high-speed internet. Geriatric Gen-Zers remember the pink Motorola Razr but their first phone was likely a Nokia E63. While Gen Zers born in the latter half of the 1996 to 2012 period will have only had iPhones. When it comes to schooling and the workplace, geriatric Gen Zers are the last to experience it entirely in-person, and will remember a time when you didn't carry a laptop around school. Meanwhile, most geriatric Gen Zers will be on TikTok, but only to observe. After all it's their younger counterparts who rule the playground.
So if this means little to you, carry on as before. But for those feeling equally as rattled by being called a geriatric Gen Zer as the impending so-called vibe shift, then I have this to say to you. Embrace the badge. Wear it like a personality trait. Become the group mum. Learn the TikTok choreography, more to the point, post your drafts. Ageing and being uncool do not go hand-in-hand. You need only look at Willem Dafoe to see that. And at the end of the day, you might cross the old finish line first, but those baby Gen Z's will inevitably join you on the podium. Of that you can be sure.