What will the new normal look like post-COVID-19? Could it be better, with a greater focus on equality, community and genuine human connection? And is Generation C best equipped to help us transition into this brave new world?
COVID-19 has made waves across the globe in recent months, challenging not just governments, economies and healthcare systems, but also making us ask much harder questions about the way we live. Questions that Generation C have been asking for a long, long time.
COVID-19 has highlighted the glaring inequalities of privilege
Here in South Africa, the coronavirus pandemic has damaged our economy; that was to be expected. But further, it has highlighted the glaring inequalities between the mega-rich, the middle classes, and those earning minimum wage (or nothing at all). After 30 years of democracy, we are no closer to any real economic equality.
COVID-19 has shown us how many South Africans live paycheck to paycheck, and how countless families are just one salary away from devastating financial ruin.
We’re suddenly aware of the plight of the homeless, herded into shelters and frequently mistreated – for the sake of their own safety, of course.
Our public hospital system is largely in tatters; poorly funded, riven with corruption, understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with basic healthcare, let alone the onslaught of COVID-19.
When it comes to education, a privileged few have seamlessly transitioned into online schooling… while the majority of South Africa’s children have had no access to learning for the past 2 months.
Social media has become polarised between black and white, rich and poor, privileged and underprivileged. But at least there’s one thing that everyone finally agrees on: the social consequences of coronavirus cannot be ignored. And if we want a brighter future for all South Africans, something has to change.
What does all this have to do with Generation C?
Generation C is not so much a traditional generation based on age, but rather a movement or a lifestyle based on ideals of community, connection, creation and curation – hence the ‘C’. Most of Gen C are young – think of it as the Greta Thunberg or #feesmustfall generation – but some members are in their 30s or even 40s. That said, you’re more likely to encounter Gen C on a university campus than inside a corporate office.
South Africans have only recently become ‘woke’ to the problems like social and economic inequality, privilege, corporate corruption and global warming but Generation C have been fighting, tweeting, sharing, shouting and speaking up for years.
How can we help Generation C challenge the future
Perhaps there’s a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s clear that the world is broken, and that we can no longer ignore what is happening. And change begins in the same arenas where Generation C is already trying to make itself heard: college and university campuses.
Education after COVID-19 needs to become more diverse and inclusive. Many Gen C-ers say that they struggle to truly identify with traditional tertiary education – both in terms of syllabus, and culture. Instead of making the youth assimilate in order to achieve success, perhaps the solution is to change education to fit the needs of our changing society. This is the only way we can ensure that the voices of Gen C are heard and can be given the power to change the future.
Generation C has spoken, and it’s time we listened.