How many times have you heard the expression ‘fake news’ in the past 12 months? You’d have to be living in an isolation pod with no access to the outside world to have missed the ongoing discussion of what’s fakes and what’s real. From diesel emission levels to crowd volumes at political events; and from ‘he said this’ to ‘she said that’, the truth is not always obvious.
Add in chatbots and avatars ‘speaking the truth’, and even robot fashion models that are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, and our world just continues to become more complex. Or does it? Is a new generation of young people – Gen Z youngsters born after 1995 or 2000 – better equipped than its forebears to manage life and work in our increasingly digital world?
Living a digital life
This is just one of the many themes explored in Sogeti’s new report ‘The Synthetic Generation – Growing up in an uncertain world’. It’s the third (of four) in Sogeti’s Digital Happiness series tracking the 21st century’s journey to human wellbeing and how a focus on keeping customers and employees happy creates a ‘Happiness Advantage’.
‘The Synthetic Generation’ combines in-depth Gen-Z generational research with input from experts in areas such as generation science, sociology and ethics. For many of us, it reveals a very different world to the one we’re used to. But for Gen-Z youngsters, there is no distinction between digital and analog; and living their lives online is the norm.
Come dine with me
And we really do mean ‘living their lives’ – if you’ve never experienced mukbang or ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), then you’ve missed two rapidly growing phenomena. The former sees people videoing themselves eating – slurping, tasting, even burping – for others to watch (yes, really) often in real time, while the latter sees people whispering and creating hardly audible sounds to create a relaxing, sometimes euphoric sensation on the part of the listener.
This exploration of new sensory possibilities is just one aspect of the digital lives today’s youngsters lead. ‘The Synthetic Generation’ looks at the journey different generations have taken to reach today, considers the power of social ‘influencers, asks whether Gen Z is any happier than others, and makes the case for organizations becoming like their Gen Z customers and future employees.
What becomes clear is that while fake (synthetic) is co-mingled with reality every day, the enterprise that is relevant and, crucially, authentic will be better positioned to succeed than others in the coming years.
Menno van Doorn leads the SogetiLabs Research Institute, which is part of technology provider, Sogeti for the analysis of new technologies. His field of expertise is human centered technology strategies. Educated in consumer psychology, he has co-authored books and studies on social media, mobile behavior, blockchain, IOT and artificial intelligence. Menno supports organizations in defining their happiness advantage and envisioning and designing happiness strategies.