From vaccine gangs to languishing, this week’s 52INSIGHTS journeys through internet conversation delving into some recent topics on the younger generation’s radar; bringing you insight into the ‘moods of youth’ right now.
REVENGE SOCIALISING VERSUS SOCIAL ANXIETY
As countries like the UK feel their way into new realities of more relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, young people are enjoying renewed energy in their social lives. While many are simply excited and energized to feel a bit more normal again and to see their friends, it’s not as straightforward for everyone as you might think.
Young people we’ve spoken to have been vocal about feeling anxious re-entering social situations... The BBC reported recently that many may have to ‘re learn’ to socialise. Others are looking at their friendships with fresh eyes - a friendship renaissance of sorts - as the pandemic experience has given them time and space to reflect on the people that matter most to them (read more here about how lockdown has changed friendship groups). This time provides people with a fresh opportunity to draw new boundaries and have more honest conversations.
In more severe cases there are fears that ‘Covid anxiety syndrome’ may stop people from reintegrating with others.
BIG MOOD = LANGUISHING
Could languishing be the word of 2021? A recent NY Times article entitled “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing” is helping many to articulate how they’ve been feeling.
“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021…. In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being: You have a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being: You feel despondent, drained and worthless. Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either.” Adam Grant, The New York Times, April 2020
Young people lucky enough to get vaccinations in places like the US have taken to social media and TikTok to celebrate. The end is in sight! Videos declare (with attitude) which ‘gang’ they’ve joined eg. Pfizer or Moderna - and encourage others to follow suit. The importance of driving home the vaccine message is not lost on Gen Z TikTokers - with research showing the scepticism among their generation around vaccines, peers are looking to counter this. Meanwhile more young people are being affected by Covid-19 in India, as the current wave escalates… It’s not over yet.
Q INTO THE STORM: CONFUSING TIMES
The Oscars is no longer at the forefront of youth’s watchlists (ratings this year, while still in the millions, plummeted to an all-time low - down 58% from last year). While the hunger for new and different content is a constant, many have switched up viewing habits over the past year to series and streaming services that don’t always translate in mainstream awards culture.
Q Into The Storm is a HBO mini series we’ve been loving that explores the origins of QAnon. It chronicles filmmaker Cullen Hoback as he digs deep behind a movement fueled by conspiracy theories that has grown in scope and political significance, chronicling its evolution in real-time and revealing how “Q” uses information warfare to game the internet, hijack politics and manipulate people’s thinking. It’s well worth a watch - particularly if you want to get to grips with some of the darker sides of internet culture. The story taps into the turbulent times that we are living through, as a result of the internet and multiple crises that we face as humanity.
This week, Burger King released a new ad ‘Confusing times’ which taps into the prevailing mood of having to deal with modern oddities and ironies. It comments on how odd life is right now with the use of dark humour.
REAL TALK: DOVE’S REVERSE SELFIE
Dove is a brand that we’re proud to have worked with at THINKHOUSE for many purpose-driven campaigns. Its latest global efforts in overcoming low self-esteem among younger generations went viral this week. ‘Reverse Selfie’ is Dove’s mission to combat social media’s negative side effects - citing that by age 13, 80% of girls distort the way they look online. More pandemic screen time may have made this worse. It encourages people to #HaveTheSelfieTalk - after the shock of seeing a woman locked into the artificial world of social media be revealed as, not what the selfie implied with a highly edited photo, but a young 13-year-old girl. The communication has hit home with many on social media who have been reminded of the progress that is still needed in the world and the pressures that are still perpetuated.
FASHTIVISM: THE ONGOING FASHION REVOLUTION
Fashion is widely reported as the 3rd most polluting industry in the world. With this, sustainable fashion culture is exploding as young generations get activist with their clothing choices and battle the culture of fast fashion. Youth are driving a boom in the eco-conscious and pre-loved clothing markets - the sustainable fashion industry is expected to triple in less than a decade and we’re seeing the likes of Depop becoming more culturally appealing with mainstream audiences, thriving during lockdown.
Fashion Revolution hosts an annual activist campaign every April - Fashion Revolution Week. It lands on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people and injured many more on 24 April 2013.This year, as it marked 8 years since the tragedy, Fashion Revolution Week focused on the interconnectedness of human rights and the rights of nature.
A critical conversation that has spilled over into mainstream media and forced brands to take action is on the subject of China’s cotton. In short, as concerns grow over claims of abuses in the Xinjiang cotton growing region - China is accused of committing serious human rights violations against Uighurs in Xinjiang - Western brands like H&M and Nike, who have expressed concerns about these abuse (their consumers are demanding answers), are receiving backlash from China in the form of sanctions.
“In just 24 hours H&M has been all but erased from China's digital world; you can't buy its tops and dresses on the biggest online retail platforms, you can't get a taxi to take you to one of its shops on the biggest ride hailing app.” BBC
Read more here.
In continuing odd, confusing, challenging, languishing-y times, our job is to make things really easy for people. Clear, uncomplex, communications aside - making things easy right now could include:
- Languishing empathy & permission to feel ‘meh’ - giving voice to the reality of what living right now is like, and helping people feel like wherever they are at, that’s OK.
- Slow socialising solutions/normalization...For people who are resistant or struggling with the return to socialising.
- Doing the heavy lifting and work behind the scenes to confirm consistent and transparent ethical claims - to be able to make the easy choice.