As a young woman, ed a girl, a contributor to the ever alluded to “future generation” I’m worried.
I’m worried that other young girls like myself are holding themselves back out of fear of the unknown, out of fear of stepping out of the digital boundaries we have begun to find ourselves in and not fulfil their potential in a world that is already repressing the female voice. The typecast of the “young creative” is beginning to wear thin and for those like myself who are at the start of their working life, be it in music, fashion or beyond, the professional pressure to build a social brand has arguably become comparative to the mainstream university path.
That’s not to say that those who find their success in life without higher education are any less respectable. Both have their distinct strengths and weaknesses, and no one path fits all, but when these individuals are pitted against one and other for job roles, just how important should a social presence be in securing a place within the creative industries? Claiming to follow youth culture through the endorsement and enabling of, let’s say the “insta-girl”, cuts off a whole plethora of other bright young things whose passions and portfolios are not as readily likable at the click of a heart. The creative musings of a new-age cool kid may indeed push boundaries and bring something new to something past, but is it truly an authentic life their art is in turn imitating?
Each to their own of course, the power and freedom garnered from the digital platform is unprecedented and has moved the shattered the power dynamic for so long held firm by ad agencies and those higher up the industrial ladder – now, it is possible for just about anyone to make it. Access to a smart- phone, an Instagram account and knowledge of just about any pop-culture reference can result in collaborations, signings and thousands of starry-eyed followers. An ability to garner digital success, followers and fame can now be considered by employers as a transferrable skill and rightly so. A natural flair for PR, marketing and networking – all C.V worthy attributes therefore combined with a clear creativity for a given field? The dreamiest of candidates.
For me, as part of Generation Z, we were not only raised on the web but raised in total digital reliance. We have opened doors and started dialogues on topics important to us and our society through new media. Self-expression, body image, gender, sexuality and identity are all made easier to perceive and discuss as part of this malleable world. A sense of community to those who previously felt ignored, enlightenment to those not exposed to the world first- hand and a platform for young ambitious women like myself, like Leomie, like anyone striving for their goals, to rise up alongside friends, peers and loved ones – be it through education, internships, a twitter handle or pure work ethic. Does that mean we should sit up, dust off our layouts and start treating our online presence as a digital C.V? In theory the answer is yes. Whilst our digital personalities are just one faucet of an employable figure, it would be reckless to ignore the importance of brand awareness for those wishing to make it in industries notorious for exclusivity and closed doors, however that does not mean your talents should be condensed down to fit 140 characters. A compromise must be made in order to successfully manoeuvre the best of both paths – an awareness of the digital age and a continued belief that you are good enough to succeed with or without the followers and the fame.
(where is the fire emoji when you need it?)
Written by Jasmine Kent- Smith
Images by, Mark Whittred