Is Gen Z Next-level Neurotic? Their Latest Fear: Menu Anxiety (Seriously!)

Every generation in every place has its perils. There was the fall of Rome in 476; the medieval Black Death; the ninth-century Viking occupation of England; and, generally, continual periods of privation, pestilence, and oppression throughout history. Today is no exception, either, and one of the latest challenges, we hear, is plaguing Gen Z: menu anxiety.

No, this isn’t the Onion or Babylon Bee; I’m not suddenly on fire for satire (though it does sometimes feel as if I’m in a Twilight Zone episode). As PJ Media reports:

Ordering from a menu is not an essential life skill. It just involves looking at said menu, deciding what you want, and then telling your waiter or waitress about your selection.

… But a menu, printed or otherwise, exerts too much pressure on Gen Z. The prospect of reading, choosing an item, and then (horror of horrors) talking with a previously unknown person is apparently unthinkable for some in their ranks. Yes, you read that correctly. Ordering food in public is the latest anxiety-inducing activity among the Fragilest Generation.

But, surely, this all must be an exaggeration by “Get off my lawn!” curmudgeon elders, right? Not if a study by British restaurant chain Prezzo is to be believed. As the New York Post writes: Bronson Vitamin K2 (MK... Buy New $14.99 ($0.12 / Count) (as of 01:52 UTC - Details)

Researchers asked more than 2,000 people how relaxed they felt while eating out, hoping to gauge how enjoyable the experience is for everyone.

About 86% of Gen Z adults (aged 18 to 24 in this study) admitted they have suffered from “menu anxiety” when dining in restaurants — compared to 67% of all respondents.

Some of these young adults (34%) reported feeling so anxious, they wind up asking other people at the table to speak to waiters on their behalf.

… The frequent occurrence of this very specific fear appeared to be triggered by the increasingly exorbitant cost of a meal out, along with the respondent worrying about not being able to find something they like on the menu, or, after the fact, regretting what they ordered. [Perfectly understandable — it’s just like getting into a bad marriage.]

Some even took it to the extreme, with almost 40% of Gen Z customers saying they simply wouldn’t go out for dinner — if they couldn’t check the menu first.

Burt’s Bees Teac... Buy New $12.60 (as of 11:47 UTC - Details) The Post further informs that a similar study conducted in the U.S. also found that younger generations are more likely to experience “menu anxiety” than their elders, though the numbers were lower all the way around. (Explanation? Perhaps eating is more traumatic in the U.K. to begin with, given British food’s reputation.)

But here’s the kicker: The percentage of Gen Zers who experience menu anxiety is about the same, another recent survey found, as the percentage of Gen Zers (81 percent) who — wait for it — believe they could write a better self-help book than millennials or boomers. Yes, chapter one will be on how to handle menu anxiety with safe spaces and comfort animals.

Other chapters will address tackling microaggressions and negative social media responses, what to do if that crazy uncle is a MAGA supporter, and how to cope if you don’t get a cushy, remote-work job paying $220,000 right out of college with your women’s studies degree.

In reality, though, this is no laughing matter because it reflects a real and larger problem: According to yet another recent study, Gen Z is more afraid of the world than older generations are and perceives it to be more dangerous — even though objective data indicate it’s safer than ever (at the moment).

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