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Are the MZ Generation's Values Always Wrong?
  • By Park Jeong-hyeon, reporter
  • 승인 2023.04.10 09:17
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▲ Image of the MZ Generation (Source: Freepik)

The term, "MZ Generation” was coined in 2019, to refer to Millennials and Gen Z, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. Due to its distinct characteristics from previous generations, the MZ Generation has gotten a lot of attention and analysis. However, as a result of its differences from the older generation, the MZ Generation, faces prejudice. This is due to the older generation's dissatisfaction with the MZ Generation's values and their way of thinking. Generational discord and gender- based conflicts in the MZ Generation have recently become serious issues in Korean society. As a result, young adults, collectively referred to as the MZ Generation, are often generalized and ridiculed for various negative behaviors. Through the following examples, let's look at the specific characteristics of the MZ Generation, which is the cause of the current situation.

Recently, in SNL Korea’s new segment, “MZ Office,” the role of an MZ office worker wearing wireless earphones during office hours generated much discussion among the public. Nowadays, the workplace culture of the MZ Generation is often mentioned through the media. In particular, the phrase, "three- question alert" is popular among executives of large companies. "Three- question alert" is a neologism that refers to the reaction of young employees who ask, "This?" "Me?" and "Why?" to their bosses' work instructions. In response to the emergence of the MZ Generation, which is distinct from the older generation, who followed orders without questioning, some personnel departments of the major companies have distributed data on the meaning of the three questions. The "three questions" doesn't mean that the MZ Generation is simply unwilling to work or unfaithful. Generally, they tend to accept instructions only if they can understand them. In addition, they pursue individual happiness rather than supporting the collective; putting emphasis on fairness proportional to efforts. Due to the fact that they are more free- spirited and unconventional than the older generation, they are more likely to reject a workplace culture of one- sided instructions and repeated compliance.

Furthermore, we can see that gender conflict has intensified within the MZ Generation. While gender differences were not particularly noticeable in the older generation, the "gender-biased phenomenon” has become prevalent among people in their 20s and 30s. According to the results from the presidential election last year, the gender gap of people in their 20s and 30s has been wider than ever before. With the intensification of the "gender- biased phenomenon,” the social splitting between men and women has become normal, and hateful expressions that demean each other have gotten worse. Why has gender conflict become a serious social issue among the MZ Generation? Experts have pointed out the "men- outnumbering- women phenomenon" as one of the causes of gender conflict. According to the Korean Statistical Information Service (KOSIS), the ratio of men to women was 110.8% in 2020. Under such circumstances, political circles have been focusing on gender splits to win votes. Many experts say that national policies are setting fire to gender conflicts. This is because men and women in their 20s are showing stark differences on issues such as the abolition of the gender quota system and the reinstatement of the veterans’ extra point system. If the MZ Generation fails to resolve the overheated gender conflict in modern society, it can lead to serious social issues such as avoiding marriage or a drop in the birth rate.

Conflicts are inevitable in a society where different individuals live together. Then, how should we deal with conflicts that are becoming too intense? The MZ Generation leads the current trends and influences changes in business and markets in Korea. Therefore, it is important to develop into a society that cooperates through 'communication.' Instead of thinking, "I'm right, and you're wrong,” the older generation should accept the MZ Generation's expressions as they are and accept that their positions can be different. Meanwhile, the MZ Generation needs to control the tendency of excessive individualism beyond boldness and refine their way to express feelings and opinions. This is because cooperation between the members of the society's community is crucial. It will be much easier for the MZ Generation to overcome conflicts if the social atmosphere of mutual understanding is created through constant communication.

By Park Jeong-hyeon, reporter  jhgongju0903@gmail.com

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