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Social Anxiety: The Gen Z Phenomena

By Arden Suvalle

Edited by Aleyna Doche

Generation Z, sometimes known as the “iGen” is famous for our inability to talk to other human beings. Growing up, I have never seen my mother get nervous when the pizza delivery person knocks on our front door. But every time I hear a knock, whether it is my own sister or the mail carrier, I tense up quickly. When waiting in line to pay for something in a store, do you nervously struggle to get out your credit card? I can assure you, you are not alone.

Why is it that Generation Z has so much more anxiety?

If there were a simple answer, I am sure we would be living in a far less anxious world by now. It has come to my attention that social media may play a role in our nerves. I am not going to sit here and tell you that you should log out of your Instagram permanently, because social media has become too common to just throw away. However what I am saying is that what social media has done affects our anxiety levels. Think about it. Perhaps you sent your friend a direct message on Instagram about an hour ago and they haven’t responded, seems fine right? This should be fine, but at the same time you see that their profile says they are online right now. A million thoughts flood your mind. Is your friend ignoring you? Do they hate you? Did you say something wrong? Usually no, your friend is most likely preoccupied with something else, but these 'activity status’ cause us to panic for illogical reasons.

Online or in person, members of GenZ often feel anxious when it comes to social interactions.

But what happens away from the screens?

Our problems do not just lie between our smartphones, our anxieties also chase us out into the real world too. Personally, I have never been good when it comes to shopping. There was this amazing sounding special drink at Starbucks that my friend told me I should order on my next coffee trip. When it was my turn to order, I got so nervous to order the special drink that I just said my regular order instead. It is not like the barista would have yelled at me or anything, the worst she could have said was “Sorry, we can’t make that for you today,” and I would have moved on with my life. This is not something that just happens to me though, a lot of Gen Z struggles when it comes to a simple Starbucks order.

Here’s a few quotes from three anonymous students about their food-ordering journeys:

“When I order from Chipotle, I’m nervous that I’ll forget my order, or they can’t hear me behind the glass. When they ask me to speak up, my mind goes blank and I always awkwardly ask for chips. The food makes it worth it though.” - Anonymous, Age 17.

“Ordering Starbucks is a complete nightmare for me. I’m always scared that the barista is secretly judging me and my order. Yes, I do want a birthday cake pop with my Dragon Drink!” - Anonymous, Age 15.

“One time at McDonald’s I put my card in, only to forget my PIN number. I got so nervous that I said ‘Never mind I’m actually not that hungry’ and ran out of the building. It was terrifying, now I only go to McDonald’s with friends.” - Anonymous, Age 16.

As you can see, we have all had our nerve racking experiences, whether it be online or in person. The thing to know is that you are not the only one who is going through it - plenty of other teens have these experiences too.

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