UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

Four years of COVID-19, and Gen Z is still angry

This article expresses the views of its author(s), separate from those of this publication. Readers are encouraged to comment or submit a Letter to the Editor to share their opinions. To submit a Letter to the Editor, follow the instructions here.

Four years ago, I wrote an article for my high school newspaper. At this point, the piece is lost to time and lackluster archival software, but I asked a question I thought quite poignant about the COVID-19 pandemic.

What will we learn?

When I wrote this piece, the COVID-19 pandemic had gone from an extended spring break to something with far worse consequences. Commercials with “all in this together” platitudes and the arrival of the “new normal” discourse began consuming our everyday lives. This “thing from China” would somehow change society.

Four years after the pandemic, I still ask the same question.

For the most part, our country has gotten back to normal. All the bars, restaurants, sporting events and other dearly missed activities are more crowded than ever. The American economy has also made a comeback. Sure, how we work has changed, but the increase in remote work has positively affected workers and employers. Our world has tried to erase those quarantine months from its memory.

However, one thing my fellow Generation Z members haven’t been able to erase is our new sense of apathy. At first, it made sense; we all wanted to return to our everyday lives. Fast-forward to today, and we’ve gotten past the worst of the pandemic. 

Still, something feels off for us. It’s as if our lives have been split between pre- and post-COVID years. All the positive momentum we had before the virus was killed off and the first few years of the 2020s are a thick, black, redacted line through our calendars. Nowadays, we seem tired of it all.

While researching this phenomenon, I was surprised that other people have noticed the same things. One of the columnist GOATs, The New York Times’s David Brooks, pretty much nailed what I want to say in his 2022 piece “America Is Falling Apart at the Seams.” In his column, he discussed the increase in violent, disruptive and hostile behavior resulting from the stress of the pandemic.

He also recognized the steep declines in charitable donations and increases in anxiety, depression and suicide as existing issues exacerbated by COVID-19.

With all this happening, he simply asks, “What the hell is going on?” Unfortunately, he’s no closer to finding out by the end of the article. Allow me to provide some postulations

The problem is the factors causing Gen-Z’s apathy towards one another are hard to quantify. Political polarization, social disconnect and societal fatigue don’t chart well on fancy Harvard studies. So, which one of these intangibles is it, Ethan? Well, here it is: 

We’re angry.

We’re angry that a global pandemic, something that we should’ve banded together to fight against, caused record amounts of misinformation to be proliferated by politicians who care only for their re-election campaigns and alleged insider trading efforts. We’re angry that our lives were put on hold just as they began. We’re angry that our public health institutions failed to take action when we needed them most. We’re angry that we’ve lost our jobs, homes, money, friends, family and sense of trust and security to a crisis that should’ve unified us.

Four years later, we’re angry the pandemic has lingering effects on our supply chain, leading to shortages of essential goods. With the virus came another recession, leading to persistent problems with inflation and higher prices. Basic, unavoidable costs such as gas, groceries and rent have exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

Throughout the worst of the pandemic, there was a hope we would return stronger than ever. Despite all the hardship, perhaps we could gather some positives from our experiences. Four years later, it’s safe to say this has not been the case.

Every generation of Americans has had a unifying crisis. For the Silent Generation, it was the Great Depression. The Greatest Generation had World War II. Baby Boomers and Generation X had the Cold War, and millennials had 9/11, a huge source of national unity for a time.

What does Generation Z have? Afghanistan became a decades-long failure like the Vietnam War, so naturally, the only candidate is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has become a watershed moment for all the wrong reasons.

So, to answer my high school junior self, we learned we have less common ground than ever before. Things that once brought us together now drive wedges between us. As Brooks put it, “This is what it feels like to live in a society that is dissolving from the bottom up as much as from the top down.”

Welcome to the actual “new normal.”


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ethan Leckie
Ethan Leckie, Enterprise Editor
A Pad Thai enthusiast, NASCAR follower, and Jon Bois fanboy, Ethan Leckie is a third-year journalism major at the University of North Florida, minoring in international studies. He first began his involvement with Spinnaker as a volunteer reporter in the fall of 2021 and currently holds the position of Enterprise Editor. Ethan has always had a passion for writing and hopes to work for a newspaper one day. He enjoys watching YouTube, cooking, and visiting restaurants in his free time. If you see him on campus, ask him about his pieces - he loves to talk about them!

Comments (0)

Spinnaker intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, slurs, defamation, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and will be removed if they do not adhere to these standards. Spinnaker does not allow anonymous comments, and Spinnaker requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All UNF Spinnaker Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *