Gen Z Dialogues: Fertile Soil for CHANGE through online collaboration
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
By Naomi Hattler, 12th April 2021
Naomi Hattler was born in 2001 in Germany and is living in Vienna, Austria. She is currently studying remotely, graduating in Interdisciplinary Arts. Find out more about her research project on Instagram @genzdialogues. She is looking for Gen Z participants until the end of April. Apply via DM to @genzdialogues.
We feel separated. But we are together. When we dare to connect, we are surprised that the other is so much like ourselves. We are happy when the other opens up, shows themselves authentically because we recognise ourselves in them. We share our human nature and our collective presence here and now. It is time to remember that. To remember in reconnecting and acting together. Curious for the other and the things that are possible when we collaborate.
My generation, Gen Z, is coming of age in a time of social and ecological crises, gathered in online spaces that leave many overwhelmed and paralysed. Our exposure to crowded Social Media platforms causes, more often than not, disengagement and news-fatigue, paired with insecurities around self-image. Are we the ones who will finally change the world for the better? As our youth experiences shape us for our lives, it is high time to actively engage in the discourse around the empowerment of digital natives.
I am Naomi Hattler, graduating student of Interdisciplinary Arts (Maastricht, NL) and I am currently realising my artistic research project Gen Z Dialogues. I am initiating personal online conversations with international Gen Z’s via Zoom. In this, I am mostly interested in the potential of virtual connection to allow vulnerability and to strengthen a sense of community within our generation. Because I believe that before we can actually realise the changes we want to create in the world, we need to be able to rely on each other's support and to use the global networks we interact for collaboration and global impact.
Social justice movements, environmental challenges, nationalist uprisings — the socio-political environment we find ourselves in, living in democracies in 2021, requires shifting our perspective to the collective. Gen Z is asked to unite and step into their power. We are called to broaden our minds to a global perspective, to rethink the position we are in, the power we hold – as individuals and communities. We are screaming for change, but where do we start?
If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has confronted us with the fact that human life as well as our political and social systems are fragile. With Gen Z Dialogues, I want to recognise this natural vulnerability of us and that which surrounds us not as a weakness but as a vital part of a multidimensional, ever-changing world. Many social change movements emerge out of the union of people in vulnerable positions who, by uniting and directing their forces gain transformative strength and the solidarity of others. Gen Z Dialogues uses vulnerability as a catalyst for empathetic conversations and profound virtual connection. Here, we can openly explore the questions we have today, together. My transparent approach opens up space for authentic voices to be heard. Eventually, the documented dialogues tell a diverse story of Gen Z which might help us to recognise the power that lies within human collaboration.
The story of Gen Z is still being written in the present moment. The insights we are having now in the formative time of adolescence, are the foundation of our individual choices which shape our global future. If we are looking for real change, I am convinced that we urgently need to deepen our understanding of life and community in digital spaces. When we are able to transcend our insecurities and mindless consumption and, instead, start to openly talk about the subjective and collective realities that we are experiencing right now, I believe that we can regain the agency and self-consciousness that is needed for our generation to lead the way into the future.
The first step towards change is awareness. And awareness can only be created within yourself. When we engage in social interaction, when we openly collaborate and listen to each other, we can playfully expand our insight into the world we are collectively experiencing. I believe that when we, as a young generation, dare to reflect on the times we live in right now, and at the same time, strengthen our sense of belonging to a supportive, global community, we will create fertile soil for ideas that catalyse the change we wish to see in the world.