How Gen-Z and Millennial’s Reacted to the Pandemic

As the world shut down because of the Coronavirus, we experienced generational shifts between how the Millennials and Gen Z reacted to the world’s pandemic and their individual experiences facing this deadly virus.

Although Millennials (1981-1996) and Gen Z (1997-2012) are the closest generations and most similar compared to other generations, their responsibilities and thought processes to COVID-19 couldn’t be more different. Like Millennials, Gen Z is more worried about family and relatives over themselves due to the low risk correlated with their age.

Farah Hocevar, a 17-year-old Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) dance major, and a Gen Z-er, said she was excited, not that people were dying just that students were staying home. She shared her thoughts as Gen Z faced this modern pandemic and explained how she was already expecting a full-blown lockdown.

Meanwhile, Zachary Maymoun, a 24-year-old student, Millennial and worker from Forest Hills, Queens, had several concerns about the future and how he would fill his time.

Gen Z was expected to have a more laid back time compared to Millennials due to fewer responsibilities during the pandemic.

Farah’s first weeks of lockdown were fun.

“Netflix marathons, baking, it felt like Christmas break all over again,” she said. Her only worries were her parents, who are of high risk due to age. However, Millennials like Zachary needed to create a schedule to spark productivity and avoid boredom. 

Transitioning from traditional learning to online learning was a struggle both Gen Z and Millenials went through, and according to Farah and Zachary, they didn’t love it so much.

“These people had been teaching traditionally for years and have now been told they have to switch to an online method,” Zachary said.

Initially, Farah was optimistic about remote learning.

“I liked it since I already wanted to try out online school, so this was my way of trying it without taking a big risk,” she added. But, like most students, the lack of motivation kicked in and got the best of her, especially around summer.

According to The Impact of Coronavirus on Purchase Decisions and Behavior, 47 percent of millennials were scaling back their spending in light of the pandemic. Millennial Zachary explained his lack of financial fears at the beginning of quarantine and growing concerns over time.

“Watching all the countries shut down dramatically, not slowly one by one, just one shot, a global pandemic, I knew this was going to be a two-year process, even maybe more,” he said.

This worried him as a new graduate looking for internships and career opportunities. While, Farah explained she didn’t have to support herself financially, leaving her worry-free. 

A common worry was the lack of communication that would come alongside a quarantine. Isolation could cause mental issues and drifts in relationships.

Farah explained how she kept a long-distance relationship over the phone with her older sister, who lives in Indonesia and faced the sad truth of not being able to partake in her annual family visit there.

Zachary also kept in touch with family overseas over the phone. Although Millennials were more likely to stay home and follow the quarantine, Zachary said his group of friends still got together.

“We never really listened to the rules. My inner circle never separated. I am very lucky and fortunate to have that because I know a lot of people got closed off, hadn’t spoken to anyone, and that can be very, very tormenting,” he added. 

Zachary and Farah mentioned hobbies they picked up, such as learning new languages, drawing, and editing, but explained that they lost interest just as quickly as they came. As the days passed, not only were hobbies developed, but so were terrible habits.

Isolation can commonly bring on for mental health issues, which can produce bad habits.

“Being by yourself puts you face to face with the things that you put behind you and makes you confront the worst parts of yourself,” Farah said.

Although people felt lonely during quarantine, it was universal loneliness; one everyone was going through.   

Change was bound to occur to the generations as this was the first modern pandemic they had ever dealt with. Many became more grateful for the things they had, while others realized how quickly things could change, allowing them to be aware of how their time is spent.

“I used to always complain about how I hate where I live, but it made me step back and realize, ‘Oh. Let me take a second, I should be happy, ’” Farah said.

And for Zachary, reality came crashing in pretty quickly.

“The beginning was great. Getting unemployment, collecting that $800 for however long that was. I was paid to be on vacation,” said Zachary. But, all good things come to an end, and in this situation, the end has yet to come.

“I think I’m at the point of burnt-out mode. I just want to get back to the way things were or at least something close to it,” he added.

Surprisingly, Gen Z felt the same way. They enjoyed the beginning but eventually got tired of this never-ending cycle and just wanting to return to normal. 

As the stores and restaurants opened, a lack of reluctance to integrate back into a normal society was shown. Millennials and Gen Z were ready to go back, but still held some doubts.

As the pandemic calmed down, travel bans were lifted. People now had the opportunity to take a risk and travel like the old times. Zachary traveled to Miami by car, and Farah visited Niagara falls by car.

As we wait to see what the upcoming months have in store for us, the generational gap holds many different thoughts and ideas on topics such as vaccines and cases. Both generations seemed to think that the upcoming months can either get really, really good or really, really bad. Farah explained her mistrust in a vaccine and explained that she wouldn’t take it as it is too early to tell if it is safe or not. While Zachary believes that we will soon hit the phase of reconstruction in our society. 

– by Aya Eloufir ’21