Hashtag Generation Gap: Navigating Gen-Z and their Social Media Maze
Etiquette3 Minutes Read

Hashtag Generation Gap: Navigating Gen-Z and their Social Media Maze

January 5, 2024 Share

Embrace the new age: Gen-Z and their digital playground is a whirlwind of authenticity, privacy, and snappy content – #GenerationShift

There are times in life when one has to reconcile with the impending doom of aging, and there’s no better mirror for this than social media. While we were all young and savvy online a few (or many) years back, the newer, louder, and more tech-focused generation is taking social media by storm; and leaving us millennials behind in the process. In the bustling digital playground of Gen-Z, social media etiquette is more about vibes and unspoken codes than rigid rules. This generation, digital natives to the core, has cultivated a unique set of norms that govern their online interactions which is fluid, intuitive, and constantly evolving.

Image courtesy of Ramsés Cervantes

Let’s dive into these unwritten guidelines that make the Gen-Z social media universe tick.

Authenticity is King

For Gen-Z, authenticity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a way of life. This generation values real, unfiltered content over polished perfection. Showcasing vulnerabilities, real-life struggles, and unscripted moments is more engaging and relatable. We see this translate in the form of unfiltered posts, minimal editing, and shots of half-eaten food that replace the avocado-toast brunch we all loved to gloat in the late 2010s.

Privacy is Paramount

While seemingly open about their lives, Gen-Z is highly conscious of privacy. They’re adept at using privacy settings and often curate their audience. Close Friends stories on Instagram and private accounts are popular tools for controlling who sees what, and you’ll often find Gen-Z’s Instagram feed containing but a few shots (beware, these were carefully curated), instead of the 100s us older tech users have on display.

Image courtesy of Ramsés Cervantes

Trendy, but Timely

Catching trends is crucial, but timing is everything. Jumping on a meme or a challenge too late is a faux pas. This generation moves fast, and so does its content.

On Cancel Culture and Accountability

Gen-Z is quick to call out what they perceive as wrongdoing. This generation holds brands and individuals accountable for their actions, and ‘canceling’ someone for offensive behavior is not uncommon. However, there’s also a growing movement towards ‘call-in culture,’ promoting education and growth over outright cancellation.

Less is More With Captions

Gone are the days of lengthy captions. Gen-Z prefers short, witty, and to-the-point text that complements the visual content without overshadowing it. And to be honest, so do we. Who has the time (or patience) to read that much about your latest vacation to California? Not us, and certainly not Gen-Z.

Sharing is Caring, but Credit is Due

Reposting and sharing content is a big part of Gen-Z’s social media culture, but giving credit where it’s due is critical. Tagging original creators or using appropriate hashtags is a sign of respect and authenticity – call it the digital age’s Harvard referencing system, if you will.

Emojis Speak Volumes

Emojis, stickers, and GIFs are more than just fun additions; they are a language in themselves. Gen-Z uses these tools to convey tone, emotion, and humor, often replacing long-winded explanations. That being said, the crying/laughing emoji remains uncool, and a distinct sign of your age – drop it.

The Micro-Communities

Gen-Z thrives in niche communities and fandoms. These micro-communities offer a space for shared interests and in-depth discussions, away from the broader and sometimes overwhelming social media landscape. You’ll dig for them on Reddit, explore them on TikTok and possibly engage with on Instagram.

Image courtesy of Ramsés Cervantes


For Gen-Z, social media is a platform for advocacy and activism. Sharing information about social issues, promoting causes, and rallying for change are common practices.

Influencer Interaction

Interactions with influencers are more than just fan moments; they’re about connection. Because being in contact with “famous” people has never been easier, Gen-Z values influencers who engage with their audience, reply to comments, and create a sense of community.

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Author: Laura Scalco
Social Media
social media etiquette
unspoken rules of social media