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Gen-Z Is Getting Old

Updated: Mar 20

Lauren Sellman, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Animated drawing of hands holding up social media apps on phones. Photo//800.com


Many members of Generation Z are starting to realize that they’re no longer on the front lines of cultural trends, as their once-fresh humor and slang begin to show signs of aging. 


Generations are organized into 15-year-long blocks and have their own distinct characteristics and cultural markers. Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Z, and the emerging Generation Alpha are defined by the experiences surrounding their specific environment and upbringing. 


Those currently under the age of about 12 belong to Generation Alpha and are viewed as even more connected to the internet than previous generations. This group’s sense of humor is likely to be heavily influenced by social media and technology, especially on TikTok.

 

Here is a list of slang terms and their meanings according to a list accumulated by a couple of Gen Alpha students


  • “Yoink” is a casual and comedic way to say you are going to grab or take something. Yoink is considered the opposite of the older slang, “yeet” or to throw something with force, that Gen Z may be more familiar with. (“I’m going to yoink that”)

  • “Skill issue” is used as a sarcastic response to a situation that is generally out of a person's control. This is used to attribute the inconvenience as being a result of an internal lack of skills or ability. This term came from gaming culture and is used ironically without negative intent. (“No way he just won against me!," “Sounds like a skill issue.”)

  • “Yap” is to talk endlessly about something and can be used as a playful insult. It can also be used in different forms such as, “You’re always yapping," or “You’re such a yapper."

  • “Skibbity toilet” is a term with unclear meaning that comes from a series of animated YouTube videos that went viral in 2020. The videos feature a man's head coming out of a toilet in different environments and situations and are often backed by a heavily autotuned and microwaved song in the background. The short videos feel increasingly AI-generated and borderline unsettling as the series continues. Watch an episode, here.

  • “Chat” is used to refer to an imaginary audience, usually to ask their opinion on what is going on. This term became popularized through rising interest in content creators who stream on a platform called Twitch. While creators are live streaming on Twitch, the audience can participate in a live chat and are often referenced as one entity, or, “chat." (“Chat, what is going on?”) 

  • “Rizz” is another term for charisma or being good at flirting with other people, so this is a desirable trait to have. Despite this, the word is often used ironically and as a way to poke fun at the type of people who might think they have “rizz," but do not. 


While there is some overlap between generations, it is interesting to observe how slang and humor can evolve. What was once trendy and new can become tired and cliché with overuse, leading to ironic shifts in meaning, such as with the term “rizz."


Generation Z includes anyone between 12 and 27 years old. Often referred to as “chronically online," Gen Zers derive much of their humor from niche internet culture. Terms such as “slay," “ate," “queen," and “side eye” became popular in recent years, often baffling older generations. In an era where internet access is endless, this generation's slang is constantly changing and often relies on what is currently trending on social media apps such as TikTok.


Gen Z is no stranger to consuming difficult-to-swallow media surrounding human rights issues, the COVID-19 pandemic, and increased mass shootings. Due to this, this generation tends to be more desensitized in their humor, making light of difficult situations as a coping mechanism. 


Millennials, who are currently between the ages of about 30 to 40, are often known for their “dad humor” and popular phrases such as, “dogespeak” (“many happy," “very art”), “adulting," and “shook." They seem to radiate Vine energy. Their sense of humor is categorized by overdramatization and a sense of randomness that dominated internet humor at the time. 


Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers often relate through reminiscing about their independence and lack of coddling in their youth. Their humor is rooted in their upbringing, often referencing memorable moments from their childhood and teenage years. Many older Internet users consume entertainment through Facebook and YouTube Shorts, where the content creators are primarily also older Internet users and therefore provide that type of content. 


Generation Beta is set to begin in 2025 and will include those born until 2040.


Although this generational disconnect can make it difficult at times to relate to people significantly older or younger than yourself, it is interesting to put yourself in their shoes and try to relate to different humor. Despite generational barriers, it is important to remember that ultimately, language and entertainment are a part of what makes us human and ultimately brings us together despite our differences.

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