When he was only 14 years old, Duncan Mitchell dropped out of middle school after watching an inspirational episode of Billions on Showtime.
“I knew then that there was something more for me,” said Mitchell, now 16 and the CEO of a professional virtual-reality fidget-spinning league. “People in my generation, all they wanna do is dab on some business, you know?”
Mitchell’s aspirations are typical of Generation Z—also known as post-millennials, or Gen Z, or Dr Z. and the Women. These go-getting teens, tweens, and seven-year-olds are ready to dominate the startup world, the media landscape, and that section of the New York Times that writes solely about people who are rich, young, and infuriating.
Once blocked by the millennials that preceded them, Gen Z is full of ambition—or, in their parlance, “a-fleek.”
Their goals could be described as lofty: They want to replace the English language with Spongebob memes; they don’t see why they should attend college when they could just raise money from Ashton Kutcher to start an on-demand pajama service; and they are impatient to make their mark on the world, and also to have their braces removed before prom.
“We’ve seen millennials screw up everything from Theranos to several Spiderman reboots,” said Brayden Krantz, 17, a Gen Z brand consultant who got his start after running down Mark Cuban’s Tesla on an electric bicycle. “We’ve learned from their pathetic mistakes, and we won’t repeat them.”
Krantz crushed an egg in his bare hand. “We will not be denied,” he continued.
Madison Zeiss agrees. At 15, Zeiss has become famous for her nine-hour Powerpoint presentation, “Millennials Are Old & Stupid,” which she has delivered to corporations like Reebok, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and the West Virginia State Penitentiary.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but millennials are washed-up losers. Businesses should actively prevent them from purchasing their goods,” Zeiss said via the Snapchat hot dog.
Entrepreneurial members of Gen Z are already transforming industries. YouTube vlogging stars like TeddyP and Jakey JakeJake have commanded seven-figure endorsement deals from Parliament Cigarettes and Lockheed Martin. Additionally, the restaurant chain Red Robin recently announced that, in an effort to woo Gen Z’ers, it would replace its menus with a series of sped-up GIFs co-produced with BuzzFeed Tasty.
But not everyone is chugging the Gen Z Kool-Aid. Some millennials expressed anxiety about being replaced as the dominant generation.
“Anyone older than me is a lamewad, and anyone younger than me is a flash in the pan,” said millennial brand expert Melissa Daniels, 28, stress-vaping outside a wine bar in Cobble Hill. “If Generation Z wants to be taken seriously, they need to stop following Carly Rae Jepsen and start following my parody Donald Trump account, @RealDonaldDuck.”
But that negativity will never reach Generation Z, whose Instagram profiles are set to mega-private and whose most trusted figure remains Zayn from One Direction.
“We don’t have time for haters or olds, because we’re too busy crushing these revenues,” Mitchell told me, balancing a fidget spinner on his nipple. “Isn’t that what adulthood is all about?”