Generation Z is an innocuous-sounding title for the generation currently coming of age. These kids are the ones who are facing down environmental collapse, massive economic inequality, and a resurgent far-right as they enter adulthood. It’s no wonder they’re also the generation that’s given us the “doomer,” a nihilistic characterization of those who have lost all hope for the future, and, just as importantly, the third grade students who were asked to caption a picture of a melting snowman and provided a litany of misery and apathy in response.
The kids’ captions were tweeted out yesterday by @derryqueenhaha, who said the educational contest was meant to be “a fun activity.” Presented with a photo of a snowman that looks to be freaking out as it slips off the roof of a car, the students’ imaginations lit up with images of tremendous horror.
“NO, I’M dying!!!!!!!!!!” one kid writes. “GET ME SOME COLD WATER.”
“im a happy snowman im going to grandmas oh no i just realized im dying oh no!!!!” adds another.
“I’m too old to die!” another chipper kid writes. “If somebody’s their, please say goodbye to my wife.”
When the kids aren’t focused on the emotional and physical terror the melting snowman looks to be experiencing, they’re either getting meta with the idea that the photo shows a student not wanting to do their work or are—in a much likelier scenario—inputting captions about how they’re not interested in the task laid out before them. One third graders writes a simple “no” for the caption. Another puts in, “I dont want to do this assignment” and a last kid enters, “Did i do this right am i typing in the right spot can you pelase email me” for their entry.
The kids, in short, are alright. When given a writing prompt based on a figure made of melting snow, they respond with either a darkly-worded but deep-rooted empathy for its plight or a simple rejection of the premise. In these third graders, we see the next generation forming before our eyes and can only hope that the outraged, sensitive ones able to imagine how badly it sucks to be a thawing snowman win out over the ones who just throw up their hands and say “no” when faced with this idea.
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