What Is the Most Wholesome Thing You’ve Seen Lately?

What Is the Most Wholesome Thing You’ve Seen Lately?

“Wholesome.” What do you think of when you see that word? What does it mean to you? Do you and your friends use it often? If so, what for? What are some things you would describe as wholesome?

In “When Did ‘Wholesome’ Become a Gen Z Compliment?,” Sadiba Hasan writes about how young people are using the word today:

When Celeste Scott sees “things that are unscathed by the bad things in the world,” she says she can’t help but blurt out: “That’s so wholesome.”

Examples: Two people on opposite sides of a foggy window playing tic-tac-toe with their fingers. A monkey riding on a piglet’s back. And Pedro Pascal.

It’s a Gen Z compliment, used to describe anything that is sincere, nice or cute, and, according to Ms. Scott, 26, it evokes a specific reaction. “People are like, ‘Aww,’” she said.

What’s not wholesome? “Love Is Blind.” “When I watch that, my heart rate is up. I’m annoyed at the contestants because they’re being dumb,” Ms. Scott said.

Wholesome Memes has three million followers on Twitter. Wholesome Games has 328,000 followers on TikTok. Data from Google Trends shows that “wholesome” started getting popular in 2018 and peaked in September 2020.

Enzo Luna, a 22-year-old communications consultant, recalls first using “wholesome” in everyday language around 2019. “I think it caught on a lot because it’s just a word that sounds cool,” he said. “It’s such a strong and simple word.”

The article continues, quoting Michèle Lamont, a sociology professor at Harvard:

There are also oodles of wholesome meme accounts, which Gen Z prefers over the satirical millennial memes of the early 2010s that were coated with dark humor and doused in irony.

“Sometimes those ironic and satirical memes are too heavy-handed, and they go into things that, at a certain point, it’s not really a joke anymore,” Mr. Luna said. He said he appreciated wholesome content instead. Watching cat videos is one of his favorite pastimes. “I really enjoy seeing that type of content as opposed to people making fun of others,” he said.

And it’s not just wholesome content that Gen Z-ers prefer. Many of them prefer wholesome people, like Harry Styles; wholesome pastimes, like playing board games; and a wholesome lifestyle consisting of “healing eras” and “protecting your peace.” Wholesomeness is not just a compliment, then. It’s a generational value.

In a 2022 study, Dr. Lamont worked with two students, Shira Zilberstein and Mari Sanchez, who interviewed 80 college undergraduates and found that there was an overall sentiment among Gen Z of valuing optimism and contributing to social change.

“This is the cohort that came of age under Covid, the first people born with a phone in their hands,” Dr. Lamont said. She said the focus on positivity was a way to move forward from the hardships.

Students, read the entire article and then tell us:

  • Does this article reflect your experience? Have you noticed that positive and sincere content is becoming more popular among your generation? Do you and your friends use the word “wholesome” to describe things that are sweet, nice or cute?

  • What is the most wholesome thing you have seen or experienced lately? How did it make you feel?

  • Are you someone who seeks out wholesomeness? If so, what content do you like to consume to find it? What activities do you participate in? Whom do you follow or admire because of how positive or genuine they are? What do these things add to your life?

  • If this wholesomeness trend is not for you, why not? Do you prefer things that are more dark, satirical or ironic? Do you find this kind of positivity corny or uncool?

  • Ms. Hasan writes that wholesomeness is a generational value. Do you agree? Why do you think Gen Z is drawn toward optimism and sincerity?

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public and may appear in print.

Find more Student Opinion questions here. Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate these prompts into your classroom.