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November 2018

Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: The Snowflake Generation

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The term ‘Snowflake Generation’ is increasingly used to define young adults who are easy to offend, delicate and meltdown in difficult situations (1). They are said to be raised by helicopter parents who hovered over their children, getting involved in every detail of their lives and doing nothing but praising their failures (2). But is this really a new phenomenon?

This ‘thin-skinned’ generation are mostly defined by their easily defended nature, but their protests do have some substance behind them. Research found almost half would boycott a brand if they went against their social beliefs (3) and H&M felt the snowflakes’ wrath, as they boycotted the store after the infamous monkey sweater scandal at the beginning of the year (4). They don’t always get it right though, as the Student Union at East Anglia University learned the hard way. Having realized that a Mexican restaurant was handing out Sombreros the Union deemed “discriminatory or stereotypical”, they confiscated the Sombreros from students and warned the restaurant to cease handing them out. However, the Union themselves were accused of hypocrisy after it transpired that they hosted a ‘Pimp my Barrow” event which encouraged students to appropriate African American cultural traditions (5). It has also been argued that Millennials and Gen Z are fast becoming the generations people love to hate, due to what older generations perceive as their inability to deal with difficult situations.

Despite older generations’ perception that the Snowflakes don’t have the ability to handle difficult situations, they have proved themselves to be more willing to openly discuss and tackle mental health issues, a big issue that previous generations have been too stoic to discuss (6). It also turns out that they have good reason to complain, leaving university in debt with house prices sky rocketing ,the job market shrinking and lower earns than their parents (7).

But let’s face it, this isn’t the first generation to be disparaged, stereotyped or generalized by older generations and they certainly won’t be the last. It’s well documented that older generations have always regarded those younger than themselves to be selfish, lazy or overly confident (8). So to all the Snowflakes out there; carry on petitioning, protesting, and generally standing up for what you believe in. As John Lydon once said, “if there’s not a rebellious youth culture, there’s no culture at all”!

(1) https://metro.co.uk/2018/01/10/what-is-the-snowflake-generation-7218112

(2) https://growingleaders.com/blog/how-to-build-snowmen-from-a-snowflake-generation/

(3) https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/57-of-consumers-will-boycott-a-brand-that-doesnt-share-their-social-beliefs/

(4) http://levick.com/blog/brand/hms-monkey-sweatshirt-apology-predictable/

(5) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/29/uea-student-union-bans-racist-sombreros

(6) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/07/23/snowflake-label-unfair-young-just-better-showingfeelings-say/

(7) https://www.forbes.com/sites/cherryreynard/2018/02/26/bad-news-boomers-the-snowflakes-really-do-have-it-tougher/#300730f4218f

(8) http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20171003-proof-that-people-have-always-complained-about-young-adults

Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: It’s the network, stupid.

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We are now all too familiar with echo chambers (EC) and how they can produce people who are convinced of things that are demonstrably untrue. We all have our own theories about why people hold views that are mistaken. These theories often boil down to “people are stupid”. Indeed much psychological literature does blame cognitive biases and errors in thinking for people’s fallacious conclusions (1).

However, recent research coming from academics working at Oxford University and UCL have proposed that the fault might not lie with the individuals after all, but rather the networks themselves (2). The team have built a Social Network Simulator to see how agents sort themselves around different beliefs and into different binary groups of opinion.

What they have been able to demonstrate is that even perfectly rational and honest actors can form themselves into ECs, as people seek out opinions within a given range of their own and then prune their social network of people they deem to be wrong. All rational agents start with a level of uncertainty about their beliefs and a corresponding range of opinions they are willing to consider given what they already know about the world. As their confidence increases, their tolerance for views that fall outside their own reduces. So a view they would have once been open to, they then come to see as beyond the pale. Crucially this is not a function of cogitative errors or ignorance since all actors have the same cognitive ability and access to the same information. It is the product of the network itself and can happen even when people are perfectly rational and honest and is independent of their open-mindedness and access to information (3).

What’s more, the study also suggests that the bigger the network, the bigger the problem. In fact the larger the network the larger the quantity of people who will give you confidence in your pre-existing opinions, and so the further from the truth you get.

As the7stars’ own research with Newsworks shows only 35% of users understand the news they see on Facebook is matched to their profile (4). It’s reasonable to assume this naivety increases confidence in the news user are exposed to without understanding their targeted nature.

As the authors of the study point out these findings make the case an even stronger case for social network owners to build their systems in a way that mitigates these echo chambers and preserves people’s tolerance for new information. (5)

 

Picture: Wonder net image of fake news spreading on twitter the host of nodes on the head of the mushroom represent all the bots created during the Pizzagate scandal, all of which target a single giant node in the middle of the map–an influential person, who then slowly begins to believe the bots and spread the fake news out into the real-news ecosystem.”

 

1,2,3,5: Jens Koed Madsen, Richard M Bailey & Toby D. Pilditch, “Large networks of rational agents form persistent echo chambers”, Scientific Reports, 8, Article number: 12391 (2018) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-25558-7

4:The7stars + Newsworks ‘Pop Goes The Filter Bubble’ Research 2017 https://www.newsworks.org.uk/News-and-Opinion/popping-the-filter-bubble-will-improve-the-online-brand-experience-

https://www.fastcompany.com/90176469/check-out-these-mind-boggling-models-of-super-complex-networks

 

 

 

 

Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: Ikigai. Yes, that.

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First, let’s rewind to October 2016.

Life was so much simpler back then. The nights drew in, we started to decline social arrangements, and Netflix was calling. Suddenly, we were all about the hygge (hoo-gah) lifestyle. Direct from Denmark, the UK went crazy for this idea of cosy, contented living. See how the interest in this Scandi concept grew quickly, obsessed us for a winter, and then fell out of favour in the UK.

 

As autumn is in full swing once more, I got to thinking, Carrie Bradshaw style, about what other exotic concept we could look to adapt as a nation – given our current state of play as a country is, well, stressful. Enter Ikigai.

For those blissfully unaware, Ikigai is a concept straight from Japan, which means “a reason for being”. It’s the sweet spot where what you love, what you can be paid for, what you are good at, and what the world needs, all intersect.

 

Now the time is nigh for the Ikigai concept to truly take root in the UK.

If you consider the cultural trends towards career breaks*, calls to curtail the 5 day working week*, the appetite for side hustles*, higher tuition fees and declining university admissions* along with an impending financial crisis, we’re veering towards the perfect storm for millennials who get itchy feet as they arrive at around a decade in the workforce.

Brand purpose is already a hot topic, with CSR, environmental and societal credentials a must-have to be considered for purchase by a millennial audience. What is less often considered is how these types of concerns factor into the career choices of the Gen Y workforce. Moving forward, could companies utilise the concept of Ikigai to promote their own employer brand to a highly selective and sensitive Gen Z workforce? Only time will tell.

 

Source:

(1) http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20160325-the-surprising-benefits-of-a-mid-career-break

(2) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/16/working-four-day-week-hours-labour

(3) https://nypost.com/2017/11/14/half-of-millennials-have-a-side-hustle/

(4) https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/apr/05/university-applications-fall-despite-surge-in-foreign-students