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The New South African: Born Free and Born Digital
In celebration of Freedom day on the 26
Many members of South Africa’s born-free generation grew up in the unique position of being born into a democratic nation, as well as into a time of rapid developments in computing and digital communication. Arc Interactive’s youngest members, Noma and Zapriana, shed some light on what it feels like to be born-free as well as born-digital.
- Do you consider yourself to be born-free, born-digital or both?
N: I consider myself both. To some degree in my own life, the two concepts have been mutually inclusive and have informed each other. I have found a freedom in being born into a digital era.
Z: Definitely both- the digital world has had a profound effect on my development and growing up in a democratic South Africa has as well. Both are a large part of my identity.
- How does this part of your identity influence your work?
N: This part of my identity is why I'm involved in the work I do. Not only do I have an understanding of the digital space, but it's also where I'm most comfortable- both in my personal and my work life. I get to understand concepts and people that might not have been accessible to me without the online connections I've been privileged to make.
Z: Being in front of a computer screen feels like home to me- it’s where I spent a lot of my childhood playing, exploring and learning. I’ve grown up alongside the internet and seen its changes over the years. I think that this insight helps me to conceptualise ideas in the digital sphere quickly and effectively.
- What does your generation have to offer in the world of marketing and advertising?
N: I think what my generation has to offer to Adland and the greater marketing world speaks for itself already. Big corporates are catching on to the influence younger people have and it's not just because of followers, I think it has a lot to do with our deeper sense of empathy for marginalised people. We're vocal about social issues, we're not afraid to call brands out on problematic campaigns. In general, what we have to offer is authenticity.
Z: I agree with Noma completely- growing up as born-frees, our school syllabus placed focus on the importance of empathy and understanding for others. Because of this, we’re finely attuned to the ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, as well as point out when we think an ad campaign could be negatively received. I think that this is why we can effectively bridge the gap in communication between companies and the consumers they want to reach.
- What’s the best thing about being a born-free who grew up in a time of major digital developments?
N: I think the best thing is that while new developments in the digital space are exciting, we might feel less of a shock factor because we expect these kinds of changes. We expect our world to grow into what's being called the 4th industrial revolution and as a result, we're able to adapt to and understand the information we're being given every day with a natural ease. This actually takes me back to funny memories of being a teenager at home, how I was always tasked with having to "fix the internet" for my parents because I could. Though a tedious chore, I loved that I was able to be that person, it always made me feel somewhat like a digital superhero.
Z: Often I forget how much of an advantage I had growing up alongside these developments. Thinking in digital terms come naturally to me, and that’s something that other generations can’t relate to because they didn’t grow up with the technology that my generation did. It’s a powerful skill to have in this day and age, and I couldn’t be luckier to have it.
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About Tthe author
In her spare time, she enjoys writing poetry, making music and talking about the universe. She's the newest addition to the Arc Interactive team- a digital marketing agency based in Sandton, Johannesburg.