Generation Z’s Burden

Greg Twemlow
3 min readDec 8, 2023

Navigating Emotional Struggle in the Age of AI and Intergenerational Conflict

GenZ often feel they have been drawn into a vortex from which there’s no escape by Greg Twemlow
GenZ often feel they have been drawn into a vortex from which there’s no escape.

Over the past four years, delivering experiential learning programs to students in years 9–11, I’ve gained a unique vantage point into the world of Generation Z. These observations are anchored in my firsthand experiences as an educator and mentor, keenly observing the attitudes, behaviors, and responses of the students I taught. My interactions have gifted me a window into their world — what resonates with them, what challenges them, and, importantly, what fails to engage them.

This article reflects a broader cultural critique and insights drawn from my encounters with a generation navigating a rapidly evolving landscape.

Generation Z, through the lens of my experiences, is grappling with an unprecedented emotional burden.

At a time when information is at everyone’s fingertips, Generation Z finds themselves under a unique kind of pressure: the emotional labor of being perpetually informed and aware. Coupled with the legacy of challenges left by older generations, it has created a landscape where Gen Z’s frustration and cynicism are as understandable as they are palpable. But amidst this, AI emerges as a potential alleviator, offering Gen Z a tool to help them navigate the complex world they’ve inherited.

Older generations on both sides of the Atlantic may, in 2016, have started darkly joking about a glitch in the Matrix, but Gen Z has grown up almost entirely within that glitch — experiencing a climate crisis, an economic crisis, a global health crisis, and a mental-health crisis arising from all the other crises.

The expectation to stay informed and form opinions on many complex issues is felt as an emotional burden. This generation cycles through a myriad of social and political postures, often criticized for their brief attention spans and perceived self-absorption. However, this critique overlooks the immense emotional labor in navigating a world brimming with constant troubling updates and global distress.

AI tech presents a fresh opportunity for Gen Z. It offers a way to manage the deluge of information and make informed decisions without the exhaustive labor of sifting through endless data. AI will personalize your learning, filter essential information, and even provide emotional support, removing the strain of ‘knowing everything.’

A Missed Intergenerational Handoff

The rift between Gen Z and older generations is deepened by what Gen Z perceives as a betrayal of intergenerational responsibility. Previous generations’ prosperity and relative stability enjoy stark contrast to the volatility Gen Z faces. This disparity fuels a sense of grievance and a cynical outlook toward the future, often expressed through dark humor and apathy as coping mechanisms.

A Possible Path Forward

For Gen Z, the path forward is about adapting to challenges and finding systemic solutions. This includes advocating for policies that address climate change and economic inequality and greatly enhanced mental health support. It also involves redefining success and happiness in a sustainable and fulfilling way, moving away from materialistic benchmarks set by previous generations.

Generation Z is at a metaphorical fork in the road, bearing the emotional labor of a world in flux and disillusionment with older generations. In this challenging landscape, AI emerges as a beacon, a tool to ease the burden of constant information processing, and a pathway to enlightened thinking.

Gen Z’s cynicism as they navigate these waters is a sign of their sense of anguish and a call to action — a demand for change that ensures a better, more equitable future for all.

That goal may be one that Gen Alpha solves.

About the author: Greg Twemlow, Co-Founder of Future Skills Studio.

Greg Twemlow

Greg Twemlow: Sharing what I’ve learned from my career of 35 years as a citizen of the world, parent, corporate executive, entrepreneur, and, since 2018, CEO of Future Skills Studio, focused on experiential learning programs for young people.

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Greg Twemlow

Pioneering AI-Enhanced Educational Strategies | Champion of Lifelong Learning & Student Success in the GenAI Era