Gen Z: From “Retweet Activists” to Forest Builders
Since the term “Generation Z” was coined, the youngsters have been the main culprit of almost all the miscalculated accusations. Mislabeling efforts by lazy “market researchers” as well as some controversies such as Kony 2012, have long characterised Gen Z as “Retweet Activists”. In other words, people who appear to be involved in certain causes on social media have long been associated with people who do not take social or environmental issues seriously.
The recent evidence indicates that the exact opposite is the case. In addition to raising public awareness, social media activism and Gen Z’s involvement in viral media have been extremely beneficial. Some may argue otherwise, but famous Youtubers such as Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson are known for donating large sums of money to non-profits and fighting what has become known as “retweet activism”.
#TeamTrees Proves the Internet Can Do Good
In 2019, a single Reddit post sparked a redwood-sized movement to restore mangroves in Mozambique, protect Kenya’s local water supply, revitalize landscapes in British Columbia, among other things. This incredible story of #TeamTrees will have you rethinking the power of the internet and prove to you that bringing people in on your goals can only make them bigger and better.
While there is endless debate about the internet’s capacity for good (or bad), younger generations are often criticized for “retweet activism”—that is, sharing something on social media but doing nothing to effect change in real life. In this case, however, a single joking Reddit post prompted a YouTuber to start a movement that brought together thousands of internet creators and hundreds of thousands of others to plant more than 23 million trees, and it is growing still.
Twitch Community Raised Over $500K for Animal Sanctuary
Twitch, a well-known sacred rendezvous point of Gen Z, has been part of one of the most significant contributions to the planet. The Twitch community knows how to rally around a good cause, and they proved it last month when big-time streamers and regular people participated in a charity auction, with the proceeds benefiting the Alveus Sanctuary, a non-profit exotic animal sanctuary and virtual education centre founded by streamer Maya Higa.
The original idea was to stream nonstop for three days in the hopes of raising $200,000, but the support was so huge that more than $500,000 was raised in less than 24 hours.
The stream was full of hijinks, but on a serious note, it was for a cause dear to Maya Higa, who describes herself as a "wildlife rehabilitator, falconer, conservationist and streamer", and is the person behind the Alveus Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary will be located in Texas, will house exotic animals and serve as a virtual education centre once it is completed.
Young Climate Activists Have Cancelled the Fridays
A teenager in the United States has already lived through a national security crisis, two recessions, nationwide civil unrest, the looming threat of climate change, school violence and a pandemic. As if that weren’t enough, they are also leading one of the largest climate activist movements in recent history.
Fridays for Future is an ongoing civic movement fueled by Greta Thunberg, an 18-year-old Swede. It is run entirely by elementary and high school students from hundreds of countries.
While Friday’s turnout didn’t come close to the 4 million who participated in the massive September 20, 2019, climate strike, the strong coordinated effort suggested they are still a force to be reckoned with.
As part of their latest campaign, the activists highlight a new scientific framework for determining whether net-zero targets are “empty” or meaningful. This could help shape future protests to hold companies and countries accountable for their new targets.
When confronted by politicians, young climate activists frequently say “listen to the scientists.” Currently, the net-zero label masks significant differences in actions, ranging from what gases are actually targeted to how heavily the plan relies on offsetting emissions.
Setting a net-zero target, the researchers argue, is not enough. Unless a clear timeline and a regular check-in process are established, countries may postpone the hard work until it’s too late.
By highlighting flaws in current net-zero targets on social media with the hashtag #NoMoreEmptyPromises, youth climate activists are pushing for the transparency the framework requires.