The next-best thing to being able to predict the future is listening to those who will shape it.
This coming decade, the primary people tasked with that challenge are the oldest members of still-evolving Generation Z. And they have their work cut out for them: A health pandemic has engulfed countries all over the world, causing an enormous number of deaths, unprecedented economic blows, and widespread unemployment. Meanwhile, the climate continues to worsen and wealth disparity continues to grow. What could come next? More importantly, what should?
In mid-2019, we began trying to answer that question by talking to you—our Gen Z readers. Using a series of four in-depth questionnaires, we interviewed hundreds of VICE readers between the ages of 16 and 22, asking what they care about most and how they’d like to see things change in the future. Then, to understand where Gen Z stands out, we posed the same questions to members of the two generations before them, totaling more than a thousand participants overall. The answers we received, presented here across four categories, shouldn’t be taken as typical polling data. Rather, they should be read as insights and instructions from just a slice of young people today.
Those insights were illuminating when we first received them. Now, they’ve taken on even more importance: While the college students we spoke to last year were already concerned about the state of the world, this month, many of them are graduating without a traditional ceremony into a job market ravaged by a recession. But, by sharing their critiques of the world in 2019, and their vision for the world in 2030, our Gen Z readers have already offered us all a roadmap for how we should shape this decade so that we’re set up for the next.