Alan Williams, owner of the Marble Falls Chick-fil-A restaurant, sits behind a folding table in front of a gray screen, bright lights, and a digital video camera recording his every word and gesture. Across the table, out of the camera’s view, Marble Falls High School senior Julian Macias fires off a series of questions about generational work ethic.
Williams is being interviewed on the topic for one of six episodes of “Generation Frustration,” a student-led YouTube series designed to bridge the gaps between age groups, in particular generations Z and Y.
In today’s lexicon, Generation Y (also known as millennials) refers to people born between 1981 and 1995. Generation Z (Gen Z or Zoomers) refers to those born between the mid-’90s and 2015. Today’s teens are Zoomers, while their parents and many of their teachers are millennials.
Generation naming began when the Census Bureau tagged a surge in births nationwide between 1946 and 1965 as a post-war baby boom, hence baby boomers. While advertisers used the information to market products, the Pew Research Center began dividing and studying generations to analyze changes in views over time based on their public attitudes on key issues during the different stages of their lives.
The Marble Falls High School A/V students are following suit on a grassroots level, exploring topics such as clothing, music, social media, anime, and work ethic.
“I think the main reason we wanted to do this is because parents and teachers don’t really understand teenagers,”Macias said after filming the segment with Williams. “There’s a gap between students and parents and teachers. This is a way to, you know, close the gap.”
Or, at least, try to bridge it, added high school counselor Christina DeLoach.
“There’s a lot these two generations can learn from each other,” she said, “but we have to make the effort to listen and try to understand.”
The production crew is made up of high school seniors from Calvin McDaniel’s audio-visual class. Through the A/V program, the students have access to a recording studio and editing software. The goal is to bring together adults and students to discuss predetermined topics with the hope of gaining insights into each other’s ideas and perspectives.
The program grew out of an offer from McDaniel to other high school teachers to use some of his upper level A/V students as interns this year. DeLoach agreed to take on a couple for the video project. Those two soon grew into a team of six. Together, they created “Generation Frustration,” the name a reflection of the grievances between different generations.
Students handle every aspect of programming. They research the topics and identify possible interviewees. The process has opened their eyes, mainly to the fact that these are not new issues. During interviewson clothing and music, students recalled how their own parents questioned their life choices.
“It’s like a cycle,” Macias said, adding that he was surprised by what he learned while interviewing Williams.
“I was really surprised that he was really eager to work with teenagers,” Macias said. “I didn’t expect that.”
Williams, a baby boomer with extensive experience in hiring and training Gen Z to work in his restaurant, said he also learned from the session.
“I learned from the questions they were asking what I need to be sensitive to and what their needs are as trends change and younger populations come to work in our environment,” he said. “We’ve got to learn from each other. What I learned, loved, and appreciated was that they were interested in receiving feedback that might enhance them or the people they’re trying to reach. I was thankful for that.”
A new episode of “Generation Frustration” is scheduled to be released every Wednesday from April 7 to May 12 on the “Generation Frustration” YouTube channel. (Type “Marble Falls High School Generation Frustration YouTube” into a search engine to find the right series.)