Tuesday, Dec 26, 2023

23 Gen Z writers at The Indian Express share the things that defined 2023 for them

Hear from the Gen Z writers of The Indian Express

gen z, gen z 2023, gen z lingoThis is what defined 2023 for the Gen Z writers at Express. (Source: IMDb)

We’re calling it. 2023 has been the year of Gen Z. From Gen Z lingo like Rizz rising to the top — so much so that it was even named the Oxford Word of the Year for 2023 — to situationships stealing the thunder in the dating department. The oldest members of Gen Z have entered their mid-20s, slowly dominating workplace conversations (the 70-hour workweek debate anyone?). Brands have finally started taking notice of this young cadre, with the big players in the game like Instagram, and Bumble dedicating entire reports to their name.

But it’s not all hunky-dory. According to a McKinsey report from 2018, only 41 per cent of Gen Z hope to own a home. And that was before the pandemic hit us out of the stadium like we were the ball MS Dhoni hit the winning sixer on at the Wankhede Stadium in 2011 and won India the Cricket World Cup. (No such luck this year sighs)

A September 2021 global survey report, conducted in 10 countries and led by Bath University, found that 56 per cent of young people think that humanity is doomed.


In the middle of all of this, we decided to talk to 23 Gen Z writers at the offices of The Indian Express about their 2023 and what defined them. This is what we found out.


This is what your girl dinner should actually have. (Source: Instagram) This is what your girl dinner should actually have. (Source: Instagram)

2023 has been the year of the girl. Hot girl walks, girl dinner, snail girl era, Beyonce’s tour, Taylor Swift’s Eras. These things and interests have traditionally been associated with being too “girly” or feminine i.e. code for being uncool, lame. But women are finally accepting the so-called girls inside themselves. We’re here and so are the things we love. Out, loud and proud.

Rishika Singh, 24, Senior Sub-Editor, Lifestyle

Festive offer


I’ve personally been in two of those this year so maybe that influenced my decision. But I think Gen Z has embraced such relationships because it gives us the space to explore and carve our own identities but you know how there’s the good and the bad so you never know which way it might swing.

Saumya Rastogi, 26, Senior Sub-editor

Uorfi  Javed

Uorfi has redefined what fashion is for India. You see a Zendaya and say she’s experimenting with fashion but when it comes to someone like Uorfi, she faces a lot of flak. But I love that she’s vocal. Almost unfazed.

Arya, 23, Trainee Sub-editor


The death of Koffee With Karan

Koffee with Karan, koffee with karan season 8, kwk, kwk season 8, karan johar, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, koffee with karan deepika and ranveer, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Ananya Panday, Sara Ali Khan, koffee with karan sara ali khan, koffee with karan ananya panday, Varun Dhawan, Siddharth Malhotra Koffee with Karan Season 8, now streaming on Disney+Hotstar, doesn’t manage to brew a fresh pot of kon-versations with every episode, mostly serving reheated coffee on a new couch. (Image: Disney+ Hotstar/Facebook)

A defining moment of the year yet to be thoroughly felt is the dead-end that iconic Koffee with Karan (KwK) has hit.

For a show as voyeuristic as KwK which has always featured on my top guilty pleasure watches for years, it just doesn’t make the cut anymore. It mostly feels like watching any other plain-old promotional celebrity interview, but has also started to make me forget the pizzaz and candor it took pride in. (Remember, Sonam-Deepika episode?)

As most GenZ relationship advice goes, I’d rather walk away and keep going back to the good memories than stay on with something that no longer gives me what I want.

Vibha B. Madhava, 23, Sub-editor


Taylor Swift

Everyone was in their Taylor Swift. So was 2023. I don’t think I need to say anything else.

Sameeksha, 26, Producer


Riyal was my Rizz, if you get my drift. But for those who don’t know, riyal basically means vehemently agreeing with someone, even if that is your boss. Though typing riyal on the group chat will definitely go over all your colleagues’ heads.

Prachi Kaur, 23, Editor

Shah Rukh Khan

I honestly did not have a lot to look forward to but my favourite actor this year! SRK was back. And with the bangest of bang, must I add. Pathaan came in January and set the tone for the year. Then came Jawan, which was like a chef’s kiss of a film. The year is going to end with Dunki. SRK’s resurgence took me back to those days when I was still young, dumb and broke (not that I’m not anymore) and reminded me of my innocence. The days when I didn’t have to think of what news was going to shake up our lives today.

Arushi Bhaskar, 26, Sub-editor

Reality Checks

This year has been about reality checks for me. It first came in the form of the raids on the BBC offices, the whole episode with the female wrestlers trying to get justice. And then in my own life, how I went on to become a woman in her twenties living alone in a city like Delhi. 2023 has been a big reality check, friends.

Adya Goyal, 26, Senior Sub-editor

Wresting away control

My college life started during the pandemic so I didn’t get to have many tangible, real experiences. Now I’ve been thrusted into the job market headfirst. You feel the crushing weight of capitalism, expectations and generally, the world falling apart. In what feels like a large social context over which you have no control, trying to have control of your own life and ambitions is what 2023 has been like for me.

Arunima, 21, Intern



lgbtq rights, pride parade, same sex marriage Gender rights activists and supporters of LGBTQ community during the Queer Pride Parade in New Delhi on Sunday. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

2023 for me was defined by ‘injustice’. This year, like many before, has seen as escalation in various forms of deprivation and injustice. The genocide of Palestinians, Supreme Court on marriage equality, adoption, abrogation of 370, the electoral victories this year saw — all amplified the inequalities and injustices that marginalised sections suffer through. This year, we were faced with unprecedented injustice, and we turned a blind eye. For me, this year just showed how much humanity has devolved. We barely have any left.

Sukhmani Malik, 24, Sub-editor

Children of Gaza

What I’ll always remember about 2023 are the children of Gaza. Their futures, ambitions, relationships, jobs, arts, will forever memorialise how horrifically the adults of the world let them down.

Udbhav Seth, 23, Correspondent



This is the year I have felt that ubiquity of content more than anything else. As a journalist, I was forced to think of what news would mean in an economy of low attention spans and a saturated market of reels and short video content. I also very acutely became aware of my role as a “consumer” of content. Rarely, if ever, was I actively engaging with the books I was reading or the films I was watching. And this sense of commodification was also felt in the way a film like Barbie, financed by a major brand, was marketed. Sure, there was a sugercoated version of feminism but did it think and provoke? No. And that seems to be my sense of where we are heading: an active numbing of sorts by the content market, where our capacity to think through slowly erodes.

Vidhatri Rao, 22, Sub-editor

The revival of Zeenat Aman

The mother. The icon. Zeenat Aman is finally back to the zeitgeist and she’s shaking it up. You remember how Instagram used to be a sweet place where people could write long, heartfelt chitthis? Well, that is exactly what Zeenat has been doing, with absolutely no care in the world. Putting us in touch with our humanities a little more. And I’m here for it.

Ravina Warkad, 26, Trainee 



OpenAI took the world by storm when it launched its conversational AI chatbot ChatGPT in late November 2022, crossing the 100 million users mark in a record time of two months. Many were convinced there must be a real person on the other end carefully crafting each reply. Eager users began employing ChatGPT for a variety of tasks, though some downsides also emerged. The arrival of something this smart sparked both excitement and fear about the implications of such capable AI. Will it take our jobs, as evidence already suggests automated systems have started doing in some sectors? And what will be the effects on uniquely human creativity and expression? Perspectives differ on where this technology is headed exactly, but one thing is clear – the potential is simply too powerful for tech companies to ignore.

Zohaib Ahmed, 24, Senior Sub-editor

OpenAI | OpenAI news | OpenAI board Microsoft, which has invested more than $10 billion in OpenAI, is one of the biggest backers of OpenAI that operates ChatGPT, its viral generative AI chatbot. (Express Photo)

Harry Styles’ buzzcut

Harry Styles’ buzz cut serves as a powerful symbol of transformation and embracing change. The sheer audacity to redefine his iconic look resonates with a sense of fearlessness and a willingness to step into the unknown. It inspires a mindset that is open to reinvention and unafraid of the possibilities that come with it.

Rajlakshmi Dastidar, 24, Sub-editor

Indians were chronically online

2023 was a year where it seemed that Indians were chronically online, involving themselves in the good, the bad and the ugly. It felt like everything, from online scams to podcasts, were all dominated by Indians. There’s something interesting about how ideas of celebrity, comedy and what gets famous change from this point onwards. For example, finding the tragicomedy in the hook of a random Swedish song and making it a viral meme format (yes, I do mean moye moye). Or people finding cross-border love (multiple times!) through online ludo.

But beyond the plain weirdness, there is also a kind of unique ugliness that can be seen in online spaces as more and more Indians, especially really young people, join them. The general insensitivity towards LGBTQ people is reflected when they someone gets flooded with hate comments and is bullied online with total lack of shame from harassers. Some truly horrible attitude towards women and other minorities are also not hard to spot. So maybe 2024 will bring weirder online trends and reels, but it won’t be shocking if tales of cruelty online – with very real consequences – are reported, too.

Rishika Singh, 25, Sub-editor, Explained desk

Cheerful nihilism

Our generation lacks a sense of purpose and hope about the future, and thinking about it and how we’re not living the ‘perfect’ lives we were taught about, would leave us constantly anxious. Instead, knowing that everything is inherently meaningless, there’s no ‘right way’ and so you can carve out your own life and happiness, is a lot more reassuring. It forces you to be direct and intentional in your choices, instead of events passively washing over you.

Nayanika Mukherjee, 25, Puzzle editor


Everywhere I turned; a friend, a colleague, a cousin or some random person seemed to be getting married. Wasn’t Gen Z supposed to be the youngest out of the lot so how are we already at the shaadi vali umar? 

Shireen Hajra, 24, Trainee Sub-editor

Ethnic cleansing

There’s Gaza, Ukraine and even in our own country, we don’t have to look outwards to find evidence. We’re moving towards a much more blatant and apparent form of ethnic cleansing.

Pranay Inbarha, 25, Trainee Journalist

Too many choices, too little time

I had a goal at the beginning of 2023, which feels like a distant, hazy dream at the moment. There’s so much happening constantly. We want to do so many things yet end up doing none of them. Gen Z can’t get their priorities straight and that’s just a fact.

Arnabjit Sur, 25, Senior Correspondent


The Archies We’re all at different phases of our full-blown adult lives

This year has been about new learnings. I have just started working and I’m doing everything on my own now. But the people around me are such a mixed bag. Some are still not working while some others are getting married! We’re all at different phases of our full-blown adult lives and it jars me to no end when 6 months ago we were all still hanging out at the local tapri behind college like we had not a single care in the world.

Saman Husain, 23, Trainee 

KJo’s course correction through Rocky and Rani Ki Prem Kahaani

KJo decided to reinvent himself this year through RRKPK and what a reinvention it was! From addressing gender stereotyping, body shaming, patriarchal norms, cancel culture, and hyper wokeism, his cinematic evolution is evident in this coming-of-age movie, which reflected an awareness of the changing dynamics in traditions, institutions, and interpersonal relationships.

Gargi Nandwana, 23, Sub-editor


As a result of well-known figures returning to their original forms after a long hiatus, whether in entertainment or sports, this year could be viewed as a year of comebacks. The believers had cause to rejoice as this undoubtedly silenced the critics.

Siddhartha Jana, 24, Trainee Sub-editor

First published on: 26-12-2023 at 13:00 IST
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