PROF. GIORDANO: This is who to blame for the Gen Z crisis

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Jonathan Haidt argues that Gen Zers are in the midst of a national crisis largely due to social media and a victimhood culture.

While I agree with much of Haidt’s analysis, much of the blame lies with those in Generation X and Generation Y.

Nicholas Giordano is a professor of Political Science, the host of The P.A.S. Report Podcast, and a fellow at Campus Reform’s Higher Education Fellowship. With 2 decades of teaching experience and over a decade of experience in the emergency management/homeland security arena, Professor Giordano is regularly called on to speak about issues related to government, politics, and international relations.

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In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Jonathan Haidt argues that Gen Zers are in the midst of a national crisis largely due to social media and a victimhood culture. I have expressed similar concerns in a recent piece on Fox News explaining the shift to lowering standards and the sense of entitlement displayed by students. As I continue to observe substantial changes in the mindset and behaviors of the student body, we can no longer ignore this crisis.

Over my 17 years in the classroom, I have witnessed an increasing number of students who lack basic social skills and have difficulty interacting with their peers and professors. Some students lack ambition and are satisfied with a grade of C or a D to "just get by." Others believe they should pass a course for simply showing up. Factor in the growing mental health crisis and Generation Z is being confronted with numerous challenges.

[RELATED: NYU prof argues Gen Z is too 'fragile,' causing 'national crisis']

The current mental health issues plaguing those within the student body began long before the pandemic. While the draconian mandates exacerbated this crisis, any teacher or professor will confirm that this problem has been brewing for some time. To fully understand this catastrophe, we need to get to the root of the problem.

A new study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), suggests that frequent use of social media leads to changes in brain development. According to a Morning Consult survey, 54% of Gen Zers spend 4 or more hours per day on social media compared to 53% of other generations who spend 2 hours or less on social media. 

Haidt rightly suggests that victimhood mentality has had a major impact on Gen Zers. Not only do we see this on display daily, but it has been built into nearly every institution, especially academia.

While I agree with much of Haidt’s analysis, it is too easy to place the blame on Generation Z and social media. If we are going to be honest, much of the blame lies with those in Generation X and Generation Y.

The family structure began to morph, and the mindset of parenting began to change. Many parents tried harder to be their children’s friend as opposed to being a parent. Helicopter parents and the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality emerged, and instant gratification became the norm. Parents allowed children to spend endless hours on their electronic devices, mindlessly tapping and swiping.

It was Generation X and Y that banned speakers from college campuses and created safe spaces. Baby boomers, Generation X and Y were responsible for locking down Gen Z during the pandemic, socially isolating them and significantly increasing their screen time.

We went from a society of traditional values - family, faith, and country - to one of decadence, where success is defined by materialism. The more "stuff" people have, the happier they are supposed to be. At least that is what we were led to believe. But it turns out that the stuff we have has not made us happier at all. 

Although most Gen Zers have more material possessions than people form previous generations, they have, as Mr. Haidt points out, “extraordinarily high rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide and fragility.”

We have devalued family, enabling people and groups to openly call for the abolishment of the nuclear family. We continue to witness an exodus from organized religion and faith. Rather than focus on our rich and unique history, there are those constantly denigrating the country and pushing false narratives like the 1619 Project, which has been adopted by over 4,500 schools throughout the United States.

[RELATED: Gen Z nothing like millennials, prof warns liberals]

As we move away from traditional values, the mental health crisis continues to worsen. The root of the problem is that so many within Generation Z believe that their life lacks purpose. They were never given a sense of self-worth and personal responsibility. Instead, they were given devices to distract them from building meaningful relationships. 

Liberal Arts programs no longer offer value as these programs have been hijacked by radical ideologues. Students have been indoctrinated with the belief, and inundated with propaganda, that they live in a racist country, and they are the oppressors or the oppressed.

When it comes to Gen Z, mediocrity is rewarded, while hard work and academic merit is penalized all in the name of equity, so do we really have to wonder why Generation Z is depressed, anxious, and detached?

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Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.