Looking at the Millennial and Gen Z generations, there is one major thing from both generations that seems to be missing–-hobbies. In the past few years, there has been a major decline in hobbies in these generational groups and specifically, within my friend groups that are part of these generations. I rarely ever hear people even talk about having hobbies or different things that they are passionate about that do not involve their academic or future careers.
So, why is this?
I believe that a few key factors play into the absence of hobbies, which are free time utilization, high stress, and the rise of smartphone usage.
When Gen Z’s or Millennials have free time, they tend to use it in a variety of ways that do not include taking up a new hobby like playing guitar or learning a new sport. The rise of streaming services has given these generations the ability to watch almost any television show or movie with the click of a button, which past generations have been unable to do. Television shows have also become part of the culture since they so quickly and easily become trendy through millions of tweets and viewers. One of the biggest shows that was shared on social media was “Game of Thrones.” When the finale aired, 19.3m people watched anxiously and it was trending worldwide at the time of the premiere (Pallotta). When a television show is shared on social media like this, it creates a phenomenon and makes people feel they have to see it.
Additionally, Gen Z’s and Millennials are invested in YouTube videos and content creators. Personally, I could spend hours and hours watching different vloggers and the videos hook this generation because they are usually fairly short and YouTubers are able to hook viewers by using “clickbait.” Another thing I see as a common way to use free time is on LinkedIn filling out internship applications or updating your profile. Because the job market is very competitive for entry-level positions and internships, these generations are under a significant amount of stress to get internships or jobs with top-level corporations. As a whole, Gen Z’s and Millennials tend to use their free time very differently than past generations. Rather than going on a walk or learning a new instrument, they are glued to the latest television shows, YouTube videos, or constantly polishing their online presence.
Another factor that I believe contributes to Gen Z and Millennials’ lack of hobbies is the high amount of stress that these generations face. According to “Time”, more than 90% of Gen Z report being stressed out, and this generation has a completely different type of stress than other generations have had to face (Ducharme). One of the main reasons that the article attributes this to is the fear of gun violence that these generations have had to face head-on. I believe another big factor of stress is how everyone presents on social media. We are bombarded with images and words about what is happening in other people’s lives and most share their victories, not their hardships. We are given a false perspective that everyone else’s lives are perfect when that is not the case. For college students, one big thing that can be a stressor is seeing everyone post their internship or job offerings and being jealous of others’ opportunities and successes, especially when the job market is so tight and competitive.. It can be an easy thing to compare their highlight reel to your life, but they are truly incomparable.
The rise of smartphone usage has been one of the biggest factors in the lack of hobbies that generations are taking on. According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, “31% of Gen Z’s feel uncomfortable if they are without their phones for 30 minutes or less (Boucher).” This is a shocking yet believable statistic and shows how glued we all are to our phones. Personally, I use my phone an average of about 7 hours/day which equals out to about 50 hours/week. The applications that I used the most this past week were: Messages (8hr 2m), Instagram (5h 6m), and Maps (4h 54m). While the statistics could be much worse, looking at my screen time makes me realize that I need to be more aware of my phone usage and focus on living in the moment rather than feeling the need to show off my life on social media or text people back immediately.
In conclusion, the Gen Z and Millennial generations choose to utilize smartphones rather than develop hobbies, and that choice has led to two very stressed out generations. The irony in this is that hobbies are often stress- alleviators, and smartphone use is the opposite of that. In the future, I would like to see more people start to take on classic hobbies and I challenge each of you reading this to find something new you enjoy. Pursue it with passion and gusto, and make yourself the best you can be at it. Use your time to focus on bettering yourself at that specific thing rather than browsing the newest social media platform or streaming the hottest show.
Ducharme, Jamie. “More Than 90% of Generation Z Is Stressed Out.” Time, Time, 30 Oct. 2018, time.com/5437646/gen-z-stress-report/.
Boucher, Jared. “Top 10 Gen Z Statistics from 2018.” The Center for Generational Kinetics, 17 Jan. 2019, genhq.com/top-10-ways-gen-z-is-shaping-the-future/.
Pallotta, Frank. “’Game of Thrones’ Finale Sets New Viewership Record.” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 May 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/05/20/media/game-of-thrones-finale-ratings/index.html.