Gen Z, The Corona Diaries: Becoming Adults in the Shadow of this Mess

By Ella, 18, London, UK

I woke up this morning, reached for my phone, and scrolled through Instagram. A post came up with conspiracies about what Rihanna might wear for her returning MET gala look: important stuff. After making breakfast - eggs and avocado - I spent my time revising for my upcoming exams. My friends and I met up to have brunch and chatted about our upcoming graduation ball.

Just kidding.

Eggs for breakfast? Nope: scarce produce can’t be mindlessly used like that. The Met gala? Cancelled: large gatherings of people aren’t in vogue right now. Final exams? Not happening, packing students in halls is ‘too risky’. Meeting friends? In your dreams. Graduation? Again, cancelled.

My morning went something like this: I woke up with the same sinking feeling that I have had felt since March 18th – the day UK schools were told to close, and A levels called off. I walked downstairs to find my entire family in the kitchen (a rarity normally) doing their own versions of “working from home”. I reluctantly scrolled through Instagram to see what I’ve learnt to dread: the next isolation fuelled TikTok trend and a trail of various advertisements about the signs of the dreaded C-word.

It feels like Gen Z has been preparing for this time since birth. Our technological dexterity makes this transition into solitary life less terrifying. We’ve been facetiming, tweeting, group chatting for years, and now when it’s the only thing sustaining our social lives, we don’t have to make a big change. Clearly what we discuss has changed. Nobody can go through a conversation without mentioning the C-word. “When will this end?!” at least three of my friends have wailed, whispered, or cried.

Undoubtedly, Gen Z, as with everyone else, will come out of this period scarred. I know I will in some way. Some of us have already heard the heart-wrenching accounts from heroic healthcare professionals through Twitter and Instagram. Some of us have personally seen those categorised as “vulnerable” have to make difficult life decisions. This is a time none of us will forget. This will change us in ways we haven’t even considered. Becoming adults in the shadow of this mess won’t be easy. Finding a foothold in the world is hard enough, no less while countries must be socially and economically rebuilt.

Despite the definite doom, we can at least play a role in bettering a terrible situation. Jessy Barden, one of my favourite actors who stars in “End of the F**king World” (a TV series I binged last year without realising how its title would aptly describe 2020), described in the most perfect way what quarantine means: “This is one of the most important things we could all do in our lives.” She explains so clearly that sacrificing our normal lives can really truly change someone else’s. I feel Gen Z is the most equipped to do just that. With perseverance, we can get through it together.

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