No matter how hard they try to keep up with the younger crowd, millennials have managed to unconsciously set themselves apart in the digital world thanks to the “millennial pause,” which became a hot topic in 2023. At the time, content creators were eager to discuss the brief but noticeable pause those born during the 80s and early 90s make before speaking in their videos. “[It’s] an unconscious act and a technical hangover from using older camera technology that did not start recording instantly,” Peta Pixel reports.

As for those who fall in Generation Z (late 90s to early 2010s), there’s little to no life before technology to remember, making their dive into our increasingly online world less awkward. While they might not struggle with the ins and outs of filming, video editing and uploading content, there is a quirk that distinguishes today’s young adults too, and it’s become known as the Gen Z shake.

What Is the Gen Z Shake?

TikTok user @homegirlzay is credited with coining the phrase “Gen Z shake” in January 2024. “The Gen Z equivalent to the millennial pause is the shake and setting the phone down,” she explained at the time. Not only is this more eye-catching for audiences, but it also gives off a more low-effort and candid appearance that young creatives are striving for. As they’ve grown up online, Gen Z has worked tirelessly to eradicate the shame built up through decades of repression by normalizing making content while eating, doing makeup and even crying. “It’s all a performance of authenticity by a generation who are acutely aware that they’re being watched,” Peta Pixel writes.

How Does It Compare to the Millennial Pause?

Millenial Pause x Gen Z Shake pictured: man scrolling on his phone in front of a laptop
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions/Unsplash

While millennials take their time in starting a video, the Gen Z shake suggests that the latter group might be hitting record a few seconds too early, often talking before they’ve even found a place to balance their phone. Interestingly, this isn’t the only social media trend we’ve seen Zoomers reject; long gone are the days of picture-perfect Instagram aesthetics as nostalgia for digital cameras and imperfect, blurry photos has taken over. “Younger people are drawn towards taking more seemingly authentic, imperfect and candid visuals – which are in fact, no less curated than their predecessors,” the outlet reminds us.

Content Creators Have a Lot to Say About the Gen Z Shake

Since discourse about the Gen Z shake began circulating earlier this year, a number of internet experts have chimed in with their thoughts about the technologically advanced generation’s viral quirk. Writer Kate Lindsay points out that while the millennial pause is something many aren’t aware they’re guilty of, the Gen Z shake is more intentional as people are hoping to connect with their audience with a seemingly authentic approach rather than perfectly scripting out every detail.

At the same time, trend analyst Coco Mocoe feels that Zoomers deserve more empathy. She points out that Gen Z grew up with the internet, and people who fall in that age bracket have an expectation of being a part of the online world, whether they like it or not. “The Gen Z shake is their last ironic act of rebellion against this digital culture,” Mocoe speculates. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!