West Orange High School senior writes book on Gen Z

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Riya Goel’s quarantine has been pretty busy. She wrote a book.

The West Orange High School senior was bored at home while adjusting to the COVID-19 lockdown and social-distancing guidelines that moved her school day from a classroom to Zoom and canceled her club meetings and sports practices. Then she discovered through social media that she is a member of Generation Z.

“I thought I was a millennial,” Goel said in a phone interview with the West Orange Chronicle on Dec. 23. “So I wanted to learn more about this generation, and it turned into a book.”

Most research that Goel read while working on the book over the last few months defined people who are between the ages of 8 and 23 as part of Generation Z. The older members of Generation Z were alive during 9/11, while its middle members were alive during the 2008 financial crisis; many Generation Z members have had their formative years impacted by climate change advocacy, the Black Lives Matter movement and now the pandemic.

“All of those things make an impact, and we have to bear the brunt of it. I think they’re getting smaller, because there’s so much advancement,” Goel said about generational distinctions becoming narrower. “Even within just a few years, there’s a gap.”

Goel interviewed 50 people in her generation, mostly on social media, about the things they care about, what they like talking about, what is unique about them and why people of other generations should care. She pointed out the differences between her generation and millennials, usually defined as people who are between 24 and 39.

“They were teenagers when the internet was growing,” she said. “Gen Z grew up with it. We’ve been on the internet our whole lives. We can call out what’s fake and what’s not.”

Goel’s book also addresses consumer habits and social issues, which differ among generations. Social issues are often tied to how a person votes in an election, something that a large percentage of Generation Z is still too young to do. Goel, who is not yet 18, is included in that group.

“Younger people might have more time on their hands and can do more research,” Goel said. “I think the voting age should be lower. It’s unfair that we have all these consequences that will stay with us for years that we can’t vote on. But they affect us whether we like it or not.”

The book, “The Gen Z Book,” won’t be released until April. Goel is working on a fundraising campaign to launch the book, which can be found at www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-gen-z-book-by-riya-goel. As part of the fundraiser, readers can choose different perks that will come with their copy of the book when it’s released, depending on how much they want to contribute to the campaign. In the meantime, Goel is working on editing, designing and promoting the book.

Though the book was written by a person in Generation Z, it’s not only for Generation Z readers, Goel said.

“A broader notion that we need to explore is working together intergenerationally,” she said. “Baby Boomers and Generation X have a lived experience that some millennials and Generation Z don’t have. We’re starting to be polarized, when we really need to be working together.” 

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