Out of the upcoming Facing the In-Between Magazine Issue #02:
The “Unfiltered” Way into my Quarter-Life Crisis.
Entering the quarter-life crisis is not describable as the most blossoming time in my existence. How to survive that struggle of growing up as an in-betweener of Millennials and as a member of Gen Z?
How easy my life dramas seemed when I look back a few years and read my puberty diary tragedies about sex, the next party and fights with my parents. When I open my diary now – almost a decade later - it actually does not appear much different to me, and that seems scary in comparison to peer members of society.
The time to reflect on my previous life came towards me too quickly, and I miss my young creative writing in my diaries. But back in the days the covers were cooler, designed in an earlier 2000’s style and the digital world as a medium of self-representation had not taken me over completely. Even if my friends are going through similar quarter-life struggles, I sometimes feel disconnected to the world, and need a more professional and anonymous exchange about it. Our generation is pushed to succeed in various fields of our lives, but sometimes we just need some time to dream and relax.
Luckily I already took precautions together with the fashion design student and Fine-Artist Cian Flavin two years ago when I was still more unspoiled than now. As fresh-born little babies in art academy we got the assignment to design a tool for Generation Z in the year 2045. Maybe our speculative future service is already becoming more vital than ever.
In the beginning the app Unfiltered may seem like a pretty old-fashioned way of using social media. It leads us back to the principles of our communication: the human language in a verbal and non-verbal form as well as our way of speaking through words and our voice in written form and with gestures. Our common language will change over the years until 2045. What is now meant as a slang will maybe turn into serious vocabulary in the future. But also globalization plays a significant role in the development of our use of language. Dialects will die out; new ones will arrive through making English to our communal language and emojis on WhatsApp might become an important medium to express our moods.
As human beings we are social creatures. We bond with others in forms of groups, friend circles, subcultures, work relations, families, etc. But still, diving into my upcoming quarter-life crisis feels harder than ever in a world where technology is influencing our society and the way we communicate seems to be moving away from our nature as human beings. That leads us to being more connected through electronic devices but that does not mean that we are more social. Can our social needs be fulfilled?
Not only through research but also by making our own experiences, the development of means of communication also has an effect on our human nature that leads to negative effects on us: feeling lonely, being alone more often and feeling depressed. The matches on my tinder account feel a bit dispiriting and so does my hope for being not the only single in my couple friend group anymore.
Through social media and the way we present ourselves we tend to write more and look on our phones rather than actually communicate face to face. It is good, we can easily put a post on Facebook or Instagram, state our opinion, share our thoughts and empower people, but we’re losing the art of listening and reciprocating communication in a constructive way, i.e. having a real conversation that flows both ways. So, how often are we sitting with our phones and just scrolling through media feeds and feel bad and jealous of other people and ourselves? We always just show the best version of ourselves on social media, even though the best version may sometimes not mirror the real version.
The goal of Unfiltered is to create a platform unlike usual social media (Instagram, Facebook) that is used in public space to express private needs and interests. In a few decades we could get to the point where we will not be able to express anything anymore in front of each other. There could come a time when we celebrate so much of our identity online that there will not be an identity in “real” life anymore. Unfiltered tries to combine our online presence with our real-world presence on a platform that provides us with both and where we can remain anonymous but still ourselves - without showing the best side of ourselves. It is our one-sided mirror where we can see the world, but the world cannot see us. We can speak about all our private needs as an intimate self in a poetic way.
Unfiltered is a place where you can listen to stories, thoughts, opinions and ideas. The app is built up as a sound system. You can communicate via voice recording and writing. Anonymity is a vital element of the app as we hope it would incentivize users to share their thoughts and experiences in a raw and honest way when they cannot be specifically pinpointed - hence the exclusion of the ability to share photos.
The app has two functions: a public outwardly presence with the function to scroll through anonymously posted voice and text memos from others and have your voice heard in public space but remain in a comfortable space while your thoughts are being listened to and read by other people as well as a personal individual presence with the function of keeping a vocal memo diary of your thoughts and experiences intended solely for oneself.
The concept is to show thoughts without photos and an official account. The user has just a name and there is no feed for private text messages between the users. It is the recreation of a normal social situation like talking to somebody on the street. It is not necessarily the case that everyone can or will join the interaction, but they can hear/see what people are talking about. The platform shall provide people with a voice: one that might make, for example, peoples’ quarter-life crises more tolerable.
If this could be a future, I can definitely live with it. But until then I will dig out some old pieces of paper in a book and write – an activity that can save me pretty well from getting too lost. And in the meantime, I can maybe already record a whole audiobook full of good nostalgic stories!
Speculative Design & Concept Development
by Denise Hirtenfelder & Cian Flavin