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THE NEW NORMAL

Joshua Citarella says Gen Z is forging identities in a moment of political crisis

Courtesy Joshua Citarella
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It took a global pandemic and stay-at-home orders for 1.5 billion people worldwide, but something is finally occurring to us: The future we thought we expected may not be the one we get.

We know that things will change; how they’ll change is a mystery. To envision a future altered by coronavirus, Quartz asked dozens of experts for their best predictions on how the world will be different in five years.

Below is an answer from Joshua Citarella, an artist and adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts. His work focuses on online communities, such as Gen Z’s use of TikTok.

When the crisis hits, we are forced to choose a position. There’s no time for compromise or debate. Gen Z is becoming politicized earlier because the United States has exited a period of relative stability. The crises are becoming more frequent, so much so that they are beginning to overlap (as seen with the Covid-19 pandemic and the George Floyd uprisings in the US). Each of these politically significant moments shapes us and forces us to choose a position. For many white millennials, our youth identity formation was a product of consumer choice; choosing musical genres with vague political implications. Gen Z’s identity formation is a series of taking positions on a crisis with explicit political consequences. Over time, these repeated crises push people toward the outer extremities of the political spectrum and reveal what has all along been the truth: that history is a rolling crisis, which a few short American generations chose to ignore.
The virus will bolster cultural nationalisms and give a new urgency to re-shoring key supply chains. But the greatest impact will be the broadly transparent and popular understanding of inadequate and incompetent governance in the US.

To read more New Normal answers, click here.

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