According to TikTok, there is a telltale sign that reveals the younger age bracket of the person filming a video and it is called the “Gen Z shake.”
Last year, PetaPixel reported on how younger users on TikTok were ridiculing the way millennials take a brief pause before they start filming a video in order to make sure the camera is actually recording.
The split-second that millennials wait before they start talking in a video to intuitively circumvent recording delay became mockingly known as the “millennial pause.”
And it was a trait that was noticeably absent in footage filmed by Generation Z users on TikTok, who unlike millennials, are perfectly at ease with the video format.
However, it turns out that Zoomers have their own generational quirk when it comes to filming videos — a phenomenon known as “The Gen Z shake.”
@homegirlzay I figured out what’s genz equivalent of the millennial pause! ##millennialpause##genz##fyp ♬ original sound – homegirlzay
The term “Gen Z shake” was first coined by TikTok user @homegirlzay in January. It describes the way Gen Z users grab their phones and start filming a video before they’ve even placed the camera on a stable surface. As a result, the video shakes at the start.
“The Gen Z equivalent to the millennial pause is the shake and setting [the phone] down,” @homegirlzay explains.
In other words, while millennials wait a few moments too long to start filming, Gen Z users start recording videos a few seconds too early — before they have even set their phone down on a surface to film.
@hortonlane Replying to @erraticpeach ♬ original sound – Chrissy Horton
Like the millennial pause, the Gen Z shake reveals a lot about this younger demographic’s relationship with images and video.
The millennial pause is an unconscious act and a technical hangover from using older camera technology that did not start recording instantly. It speaks volumes about the millennial generation’s inherent discomfort with the video format.
However, writer Kate Lindsay points out that, unlike the unintentional millennial pause, the Gen Z shake is more of a performance by younger users to make their video appear spontaneous and authentic instead of planned out.
Not only does it captures the viewer’s attention, but the Gen Z shake also gives a low-effort and candid appearance to a video — as though filming a video was an afterthought, or that they simply could not wait to share their thoughts.
In a similar vein, it is not uncommon to see Gen Z creators on TikTok begin recording a video right before they have finished eating some food, or as they are about to finish applying their makeup.
As Lindsay points out, like the Gen Z shake, all of these narrative devices signal to viewers that the Gen Z creator was caught “in media res” — that they had the grand idea of filming a video while they were busy in the middle of something else.
It is all a performance of authenticity by a generation who are acutely aware that they are being watched.
Of course, the Gen Z shake can also be linked to the many recent trends that have seen Generation Z rejecting the highly-edited, picture-perfect, thought-out visuals that they grew up seeing on Instagram from their millennial counterparts.
Younger people are drawn towards taking more seemingly authentic, imperfect, and candid visuals — which are in fact, no less curated that their predecessors.
However, content creator Coco Mocoe says that the Gen Z Shake should be interpreted more empathetically than that.
@cocomocoe If you like my tiktok, you’ll love my podcast 🎧❤️video cred: @homegirlzay // #genz #millennials ♬ original sound – Coco Mocoe
Mocoe points out that Gen Z grew up on the internet and are expected to be online whether they like it or not.
In a world where their lives have to be played out publically on the internet, Mocoe says that the Gen Z shake is their last ironic act of rebellion against this digital culture.