Gen Z and Millennials. Can you believe how time flies? It feels like just yesterday we were all rocking our Tamagotchis and dial-up internet. Now, we’ve got TikTok and 5G. Life comes at you fast, right?
One Redditor asked, “What are some *actual real* cultural/personality differences between GenZ and millennials?” Thousands of users commented on this post, but we have compiled the ultimate differences for you!
Spoiler alert: they’re both pretty awesome, but they have their own quirks that make them unique.
1. Driver’s License
Millennials learned to drive stick-shift cars, which is quite difficult. Gen Z? They’re all about automatic transmissions, which is like playing Mario Kart with the autopilot on.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “I gotta say from casual observation, the driver’s license thing is spot on.”
Another added, “100%. I was so upset my mom didn’t take me to the DMV on my 16th birthday for my license (we went a few days later). Meanwhile, my niece is 22 and can barely drive on the interstate because she doesn’t care to drive much at all.
Editing to add: I love my niece and am definitely not poking fun at her. Just sharing, anecdotally, that this difference in generations is very accurate.
Believe me, I get that driving is scary. Driving where I live is a necessity (the suburbs of a major metropolitan area that has grown extremely fast – one of the fastest in the country [USA] – and there really isn’t any reliable public transportation and there is not much within walking distance).”
Millennials grew up in the ’90s and early 2000s, when the internet was basically a noisy dial-up affair. Remember the sound of connecting to the World Wide Web? Gen Z, on the other hand, was born into a world where Wi-Fi flows like water. They can’t imagine life without streaming, Snapchat streaks, and TikTok dances.
One said, “In the words of TheOdd1sOut: Gen Z grew up with the Internet, but millennials grew up with the Internet.”
Another replied, “This is spot on. I really didn’t realize what a uniquely cool experience we were getting at the time re: the Internet. It feels so much lamer now by comparison.”
A Reddit user wrote, “As a millennial, I feel like we had issues around weight pushed on us growing up. You couldn’t find a tabloid not talking about how [insert healthy celeb here] was “fat”. Now I think Gen Z has that same pressure about age. Maybe because skincare is a lot more popular and stuff meant to target older generations for aging is seeping into Gen Z’s perspective of it?”
Another added, “Bro, the amount of 18-25-year-olds I see on r/amiugly talking about already wanting major cosmetic surgeries is staggering.”
Millennials are starting to feel the effects of late-night pizza binges and sedentary desk jobs. Gen Z, on the other hand, is all about vegan diets, yoga, and mental health awareness. They’re redefining what it means to age gracefully, which involves much more kale.
4. The Labels
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Millennials tend to fight labels, while Gen Z seems to prefer hyper-specific labels.”
Another replied, “100%. When I was in High school, kids with spikey black hair, dark eyeliner, and a My Chemical Romance shirt would get genuinely upset if you called them emo. Gen Zers will put emo in their Instagram bio.”
Social media plays a big role in this. Millennials started the whole “Myspace angles” thing, where you’d tilt your head just right to look your best. Gen Z, on the other hand, is all about authentic self-expression.
5. Hotdog vs. Glizzy
Someone commented, “I’ve never thought about calling a hotdog a glizzy, so there’s that.”
Someone else added, “That’s a slang that started in NY and then rapidly spread through TikTok. I think part of the difference is that there’s probably a lot less regional slang with Gen Z because they’re all on the same internet.”
“Glizzy” might sound a bit funny, but they’re all about owning their own lingo. Plus, they’ve taken the toppings game to a whole new level. Ever seen someone put mac ‘n’ cheese on a glizzy? Gen Z is all about the crazy combos.
One said, “Millennials grew up in the late 20th century. Most of them still remember a pre-9/11 world. They saw the rise of the internet. GenZ has always lived in a post 9/11 internet world.”
Another added, “The world is so different. Before 2001, most people generally trusted the government to be competent and good. The best way I know to describe the 90s to younger people, I was only a child then, but you can watch Disney movies from the era, and most people actually lived fairly similar to this. One of my favorites is zenon: girl of the 21st Century.”
The emotional impact is where things get tricky. Millennials carry the weight of that day with us. Gen Z? They learn about it as a historical tragedy but don’t have that personal connection to the event itself.
Millennials would turn to these wise sages of the Dewey Decimal System for help. Need to find a book on ancient Egypt? The librarian had your back. Gen Z? They consult Google or ask their virtual assistant, Alexa or Siri. Sorry, librarians, you’ve got some serious competition in the tech department.
A Reddit user wrote, “When I was in 4th grade and did a research project, I had to go to the library and rent books like an animal.”
Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “I had access to the Internet extremely early for someone my age, and I still had to go to the library to do research because I had no idea how to cite the things I looked up online.”
8. Paper Maps
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Remember when we had paper maps? Then we got really cool and had to print directions off Mapquest?”
Another replied, “Oh yeah, I remember my parents using those. Mapquest came out about just the time I learned how to use paper roadmaps effectively.”
Why unfold a piece of paper when you can ask Siri to give you turn-by-turn directions, right?
9. Posting Everything
Someone commented, “I’m 36, and I like selfies and taking good photos for social media, but Gen Z has a relationship with documenting their life that makes no sense to me. It’s not bad but definitely different.”
Another added, “Nailed it. No cell phones to track and videotape all our stupid stuff.”
Now, Gen Z? Well, they practically came out of the womb with smartphones in hand. They’ve got a “post now, think later” mentality. They’ll share what they had for breakfast, their thoughts on the weather, and a play-by-play of their daily routine. Privacy? What’s that?
10. Not at Home
One said, “Just vanish and maybe show back up for dinner. My poor mother.”
Someone else added, “Yeah, the old, just be back before dark, or go somewhere and call me and let me know if you are running late. Then again, we had friends to hang out with, so we weren’t just kids wandering the world by ourselves.”
But at the core of it all, whether you’re a Millennial who vanished into the great outdoors or a Gen Z-er teleporting into cyberspace, the essence is the same.
11. Being Happy
A Reddit user wrote, “I’m an older millennial, 40 years old. My daughter and her friends are in high school. They found my old yearbooks and just noted how happy everyone was. They commented on how depressed everyone at school was now. I told them we were just more social by actually talking face-to-face with people.”
Another replied, “We were more connected back then because we had to be. We had to confront each other because there wasn’t a different passive-aggressive option. Wild how much culture has shifted.”
But here’s the kicker- both generations value happiness, but they seek it in different ways. For Millennials, it might be buying a house or starting a family. For Gen Z, it’s about making memories, fostering connections, and embracing their individuality.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “It’s too late for me to go look up the actual data, but suffice to say that the internet has caused a huge nosedive in dating, close interactions, etc., with teens vs. what was true in the 1990s and even early 00s. I know that teen intimate behavior actually peaked in the mid-90s (which is before I was a teen).”
Another added, “Millennials were the last generation where most teens dated and did the deed in high school. Gen Z is largely waiting until college (and having much less intimacy in college than we did, too). They’re not prudes; it’s just that with the internet and dating apps, you don’t have to go to the house party or the bar to strike up a conversation with someone. You don’t have to meet up in person to get to know them. So you are likely to know if you want to have a relationship with them before reaching that part.
I had a flip phone (Razr for the win!) and texted my boyfriends’. But our texts were “When can I see you again?” not full-on conversations about every detail of life. They were tools to arrange real-life experiences, not the experience itself. You wanted a phone because it allowed you to coordinate and find out about where the party was, how to get there, etc.
So, a huge difference between Millennials and Gen Zers is that Millennials use the internet to arrange real-life interactions. We met our boyfriends at house parties and lost virginities instead of intimate texting and doing ourselves.”
Now, communication is a biggie. Millennials remember texting with T9Word and the agony of waiting for a text back. On the other hand, Gen Z has got Snapchat, Instagram DMs, and emojis for days.
13. Playing Video Games
Millennials might remember the days when gaming was considered a niche hobby, and “nerd” was a label we wore with pride. Gen Z? They’ve got esports, Twitch streamers, and gaming as a legit career option.
One said, “In France, at least there is the video game acceptance. I grew up in the 90’s (countryside), and when I was a kid, playing video games was something sending you straight to the “not cool nerds” category. Sometimes people whispered, “I’m sure he plays video games,” and stuff like that as a really bad gossip.
I saw it becoming really more normalized at the end of the secondary. For GenZ it has always been a very normal distraction.”
Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “If you said you’re an adult who likes gaming, you were seen as a man/woman child. Now I see tons of young adults playing this stuff without any care.”
Another replied, “What used to be considered a nerd is now enjoyed by everyone. It’s pretty hard to find a teenager that doesn’t play any video games.”
Millennials, we grew up with iconic characters like Spider-Man, Batman, and the X-Men. Gen Z, on the other hand, has a whole new roster of heroes to look up to. They’ve got the Avengers, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman leading the charge on the big screen. These heroes have become symbols of diversity and inclusion, inspiring a new generation in ways we couldn’t have imagined.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “I remember when liking superheroes could get you bullied. Now they’re dominant mainstream culture.”
Another added, “Which is funny to me because weren’t superheroes the dominant mainstream culture when they originally came out? I mean, Superman was huge in the ‘40s and ‘50s. If anything, it’s come full circle, and the curiosity is why it died out to be seen as geeky in the ‘70s-‘90s. Edit: I changed “nerdy” to “geeky” as that’s probably more accurate.”
A Reddit user wrote, “Millennials have an apocalyptic view of the future. This is because they came of age during the 2008 economic crisis. They lived in the before time and witnessed the fall of civilization through teenage eyes. GenZ has a post-apocalyptic view of the future, having never known a single day of hope ever.”
Someone else added, “The difference is “Nothing in life matters 😢” and “Nothing in life matters.”
Diversity and inclusion are also central to worldview. Millennials witnessed a shift towards more inclusive attitudes, but Gen Z is pushing the boundaries even further. They’re champions of LGBTQ+ rights, gender fluidity, and racial equality. Their worldview is all about embracing diversity and dismantling old norms.
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Millennials are definitely more computer savvy. I’m a Millennial with a Gen Z employee who’s 10 years younger than me. I just had to teach him what a zipped file was and how to unzip it. The entire concept and language were totally foreign to him. He’d never heard of such a thing.”
Another replied, “I was going to comment on this. After working with a lot of Gen Zers, I’ve noticed a lot don’t know how to operate their own computers. Simple tasks like turning off wifi, searching their computer, typing, and I have even witnessed entering websites is a struggle. You have a few that make headlines for being really savvy and hacking networks, but I notice the vast majority are almost computer illiterate.”
Do you know any Millennial who is bad at working on computers?
One said, “I think a difference is problem-solving in the real world. Technology has made everything so simple, with a tap of a screen, that a lot of ‘basic’ experiences that build skills are no longer learned. For instance, something as innocuous as writing a research paper.
Back in the day, you would go to a library, experience talking to an adult you don’t know, navigate the bookshelf maze, and find a book using a dewy decimal system. Inadvertently, that person also experiences social interaction, following directions, and paying attention to details.
Today, the equivalent is looking up a search term online, copying, and pasting. No “other” skills gained which could be applied to future, different situations.”
Another added, “I was looking for this type of comment. There is a disturbing lack of “figure it out.” In college, so many need so much help navigating the school’s page. Just click on it and go back if it’s not right. Some will go months before asking what people are talking about when they say you can check feedback on Gradescope.
The thing mentioned in class religiously, in the syllabus, and linked to in the class info page. So many assume it’s a hard-to-solve mystery or the teacher’s stuff is busted if they can’t solve it quickly. And good grief, the resistance to reading…”
Whether you’re a Millennial navigating the traditional career path or a Gen Z-er embracing the gig economy, the essence of problem-solving remains the same- adapt, learn, and keep moving forward.
A Reddit user wrote, “Ghosting. Boomers would just stay married and hate each other until they die. Millennials would tell someone why they’re dumping them. Gen Z just ghosts.”
Someone else added, “I am Gen Z and just got ghosted, so this is very accurate lmao. I wish my generation were more like millennials in that sense; it seems like everyone is so afraid of having mature communication or something. Idk”
Communication is a biggie. Millennials might remember the days of handwritten letters and long phone calls that lasted for hours. Gen Z? They’ve got texting, Snapchat, and social media, making it easier to connect and disconnect at the snap of a finger.
19. The Real Life
Someone commented, “I’ve noticed members of Gen Z do not see a separation between the internet and “real life.” To them, it’s one and the same. Millennials also grew up in a more interconnected world, but if you were not at your desktop, you were able to get some separation.”
Another replied, “Now, because of smartphones and social media, there isn’t a sense of pause. I think that has certainly affected the personalities of members of Gen Z. They grew up under constant surveillance and learned what was desirable through “likes” and “views” rather than finding themselves organically.”
Millennials might remember the grind of the 9-to-5 job, where the goal was to climb the corporate ladder. Gen Z? They’re more likely to prioritize flexible work arrangements, freelancing, and side hustles. Real life, for them, is about finding harmony between work and personal interests. Which path do you think is better?
20. Taking Input From Random People
Millennials remember a time when asking strangers on the internet for stuff seemed like a shady endeavor. But Gen Z has flipped the script!
One said, “Are Gen Z the ones who post all those “Is it weird if I…” questions every day? It’s baffling to me how someone needs that much reassurance over such mundane things. “Is it weird if I eat in a restaurant alone?” “Is it weird if I go to a yoga class if I’m a guy?” “Is it weird if I like model trains?”
Another added, “Like wtf? Asking random internet strangers seems just about the worst way to get a better understanding. Do they really have no friends to bounce ideas off of? What’s the worst that they imagine could happen that prevents them from even trying things for themselves?”
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