Generation Awesome

They are cool, connected and tech-savvy. They are entrepreneurial and they know how to have fun.
Three of the amazing teenagers I met at a teens camp in 2015. Dylan, Naa Dedei and Bernard. Photo Credit: Shafic Hijazi (Res Photography)

Let’s talk about a generation I would like to refer to as “Generation Awesome.” They were born in the late 90s and early 2000s. By the time they could say “Mama,” the mobile phone was a ubiquitous commodity. For this, we can also call them the computer generation. Unlike my generation (born in the late 80s and early 90s) who had to go many years without seeing a phone and using the internet, these teens grew up along with these technological advancements. In the Western world, they are called Generation Z (b. 1995 and after), but we won’t use this name in this article.

They didn’t play “Pampanaa”, “Pilolo” or “Alikoto.” The floor wasn’t their companion — the screen was! They didn’t get their butts dirtied. They never went for bird hunting with a catapult and a handful of the choicest pebbles. I find these young ones an interesting bunch of people. I’ve been privileged to have some good friendship with a few of these teens, and I want to confess that I totally love those I’ve engaged with. Let’s go a bit deeper to learn more about this breed of young humans.

They are tech-savvy: They know the latest technological trends. They know the specs of the latest Samsung model. They are the ones to jump on the newest apps and experiment with it. The dexterity with which they interact on social media sometimes amazes us. We still don’t understand how they build 5000 Instagram followers and pull in 1000 likes per post. I know some of my age-mates who have tried to do same and have failed terribly. Their favorite social platform is Instagram, no doubt, followed by Snapchat. They may be on Facebook and Twitter but they don’t spend much time there.

They are connected: There’s probably no generation that is as connected as these. Living in a “world” that is mostly oblivious to people outside this age bracket, they communicate with one another in a way that can only be described as brilliant. They have their own shorthand and other expressions which the twenty-somethings look at and cannot make any meaning out of. They are pros in the usage of emojis. A quick scroll through comments on their IG posts will show comment threads which you will not understand 50% of the time, yet you see that communication is ongoing. One of such teens gave me this response when I asked how he was doing. He responded “I’m chill.” Now who says that? Lol.

Comment thread on an Instagram post by @akuoko__. Permission sought from the account holder.

They have their own style: This is the generation that didn’t draw inspiration from time past to tell them how to dress and how to behave when they meet their peers. They love their short knickers, skinnies and their sweat tops — and this cuts across social class. For the boys, their favorite haircut is what they call “three-steps”. They have their own unique ways of taking photos: with their eyebrows raised or their eyes partly closed — I just learnt from one of them that it’s called “smoky eyes” — and their hands covering their mouth, they take pictures which of course turn out nice. They interact in their own unique ways. This takes my mind back to Sarah Kirshaw’s article in the New York Times almost seven years ago: For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’ To them, the hug is the “hello” for their generation, the handshake and the high-five are boring. :)

They know how to have fun: They are the generation that grew up to meet large shopping complexes and parks. It’s common for them to plan an outing entirely on WhatsApp and get scores of people to turn up. They love the outdoors and they love to travel.

They are entrepreneurial: Probably due to the extent of exposure they’ve had online, Generation Awesomes are very enterprising. They are always searching for something meaningful to do, whether a business or a social enterprise. It’s common to find three of them come together to start a business and they pull through till they make it.

I have even much more to say about this generation. I hope we can find time in the future to talk more about them. They are a wonderful bunch of people to know and have as friends. If you want to broaden your scope and learn things that you never knew, I’ll encourage you to build some good friendships with some of these young ones. You will be exposed to a whole new world and God willing you will positively influence their lives as well.

PS: I’ve committed the sin of “hasty generalisation” in many places in this article, which is meant to produce a certain effect. This article does not represent everyone in the age bracket; people from different countries and geographical areas may live differently. It was important that I write this way to convey my thoughts succinctly. My goal was not to get all the facts right, but to write what I’ve seen or learnt about young people in this age bracket, most of whom live in urban areas in Ghana.