Bubble culture, living in public, tennis, and Naomi Osaka

We are seeing a unique generation come of age. 

Gen Z, usually thought of as kids in high school and college, are simultaneously living in the most open and accessible world, while demanding to be left alone. 

As the father of two Gen Z children I see this on a daily basis. 

This generation consumes and shares social media like never before. They constantly post on Tik Tok or whatever. The dream of many Gen Zers is to become a YouTube star. They seek out, get, and get addicted to attention. 

But at the same time they want nothing to do with each other. This is a generation that will watch someone from another country play video games on YouTube, but is appalled at the idea of having a friend over to play the same game. 

None of this is new. My insight is not unique. 

But we are seeing what happens when this ‘Pay attention to me, but leave me alone’ generation gets out into the real world. 

The latest example is the highest paid, and most sponsored, female athlete in the world. Naomi Osaka is a world champion tennis player. She is really good too. 

This weekend she quit the French Open because of the requirement that she speak with reporters. 

The Federalist has the write-up. 

Star Naomi Osaka has just decided to step away from the French Open — and the entire sport of tennis — rather than be interviewed about the tournament. The number-two-ranked women’s tennis player and highest paid female athlete took to Instagram and Twitter to make her announcement.

Osaka has garnered substantial accolades from other athletes and public figures. Fellow tennis players Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff, and Venus Williams, the latter of whom has also faced fines for skipping press conferences, showed their support in the Instagram comment section. Sprinter Usain Bolt, actress Jameela Jamil, and countless other celebrities likewise joined in praising Osaka for protecting her mental health.

However, not all were quite as encouraging. Famed former players Billie Jean King and Patrick McEnroe said they understand Osaka’s stance, but noted the importance of the press for the continued viability of professional tennis.

Osaka claims she needs a mental health break, but the mental health break may just be a way for her to avoid being asked about her mistakes. 

Greg Couch at OutKick

Osaka’s sister, Mari, wrote on social media that Osaka just didn’t want to be around people asking her about her struggles playing tennis on clay courts. It hurt her confidence, which is a mental health thing.

Is that really the same as mental health struggles?

“So many people are picky on this term thinking you need to have depression or have some sort of disorder to be able to use the term mental health,’’ Osaka’s sister wrote a few days ago.

Suddenly, that post is gone

So mental health struggles may just be about avoiding criticism.

That too is a Gen Z thing. 

The same young people who demand attention 24/7, the same young people who put half-naked (or fully naked) pictures out there for the world to see cannot handle even the slightest criticism. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images