A major TikToker gained traction with a theory that Gen Zers are aging faster than millennials.
Jordan Howlett, who is 26, said people have assumed he's his parent's sibling.
Howlett told BI he thinks the faster aging could be due to job- and economy-related stress.
When the TikTok influencer Jordan Howlett said in a video from last week that he was 26, no one could believe it.
His 12 million followers were shocked: "Ummm aren't you like 35!???" one person reacted. "Ain't no way in the world this man is Gen Z. This generation be recycling ancestors," another person wrote.
Howlett — who told Business Insider he thinks it's hilarious that people assume he's much older — recently went viral asserting that he believes Gen Zers are aging much more rapidly than previous generations. It's sparked debate and discourses about why this may be happening, as Howlett points to work and economic hardships that are uniquely plaguing his generation.
In the TikTok, which has been viewed over 19 million times since he posted it on Wednesday, Howlett reacted to a clip from the "Staying Up Podcast" about how young Gen Zers often look older than millennials.
"I mean, they're fucking chronically online, depresso stresso," one of the hosts theorized why.
Howlett said that when he's with his mom in public, some people think he's her older brother. He also said that when he tells people he's going to hang out with his family, they assume he's talking about his kids (he doesn't have any), not his parents.
Perhaps the funniest anecdote Howlett shared with his followers was an encounter with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson when he asked the actor for an autograph. When he gave his name, Johnson thought he was talking about his son. He said the actor wrote, "Your dad is a great guy; he stood out here for hours."
"Dude, Dwayne is 52, I am 26, what?" he said.
Howlett, who also works as a substitute teacher, told BI that he thinks Gen Z could be aging quicker due to increased stress related to the economy, inflation, and struggling to maintain income and savings even with a 9-to-5 job.
"In addition to that, trying to figure out what they want to do for their careers long-term, and feeling the immense amount of pressure of trying to succeed before the age of 30," Howlett added.
He said he came up with the theory after he noticed he and many of his Gen Z friends looked much older than their ages — and his friends all concurred.
Viewers and longtime followers were floored when they realized Howlett was only 26; commenters who identified themselves as millennials and Gen Xers said he looked their age.
"When you said you're Gen Z, I gasped," one comment with over 110,000 likes said.
Most people agreed with the theory and said they've observed similar changes: One person who said they're a Gen Z high school teacher said they and their students are discovering grey hairs sooner.
"Millennials grew up with an inkling of hope," another person wrote. "Gen Z didn't."
Howlett has taken the comments in stride, calling them "hilarious." He said his favorite quip was someone who described him as Dwayne Johnson's "older therapist."
"I genuinely love how creative people are when it comes to comparing how old I look to how old I actually am," Howlett said. "I get a tremendous amount of joy reading their comments."
The discourse surrounding Gen Z looking older than they are has previously gone viral. In September, the 23-year-old creator Taylor Donoghue shared a TikTok saying her boyfriend told someone that she was 47 as a joke, and then the person responded and said she thought Donogue was in her 30s.
"I was humbled so quick," she said.
Read the original article on Business Insider