For Millennials, Being Digital Alone is Not Enough

Photo: Valerian Timothy

In a world where information, communication, and technology (ICT) progress rapidly and somewhat in an uncontrollable manner, potential threats of unprecedented issues may as well brew along with it. Right in the middle of this disruption are the Millennials; the generation dubbed as the ‘digital generation,’ who will likely give us the nod that they are used to harnessing the digital media. However does this also mean that they are ready for the future challenges that invariably come with it?

On 7 November 2017, INADIS in partnership with the Embassy of Kingdom of Belgium to the Republic of Indonesia organized a seminar with the theme of discussing the Millennial generation potential on an international scale. The seminar held at the Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia (FIB UI) invited speakers from many backgrounds to share their views on the world’s future challenges as well as the kind of skillsets that are deemed crucial for the Millennials towards solve them.

Photo: Valerian Timothy

H.E. Patrick Herman, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Republic of Indonesia, prefaced his opening speech with a comment concerning the rising of divisive issues in some parts of the world, to say nothing of the Brexit vote and the recent Catalonian bid for independence from Spain. As people become more connected, the world’s issues are really at ones’ fingertips. With such profuse information, “It is important to see where the Millennials stand on the current issue. In theory, technology will make them open-minded and they are much more critical on issues like democracy and society,” he remarked.

In a similar vein, Valérie Crab, the Innovation Lead for UNICEF Indonesia, also mentioned critical thinking as one important skillset for Millennials, which is especially useful in coping with unfiltered information. She broached a topic about the future of the job market; “The challenge for Millennials is that we have to navigate the future job market based on an education that is geared to needs of the job market 150 years ago.”

Another speaker, Maude Biettlot from UNDP Indonesia, conjured up a rubik’s cube to analogize what she meant by solving problems with a ‘multi-dimensional’ approach. By stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, one might find among the alternatives the best solution to solve problems. She contended that perhaps there is nothing more urgent than finding ways to deal with climate change. “The individual and collective survival of all species depends on it and innovation is one key aspect of solution,” she said.

The seminar took place only a couple of weeks after the official opening of the Europalia Arts Festival Indonesia 2017 by HE Vice President Jusuf Kalla and HM King Philippe. Europalia is a 3-month, 300-program festival held in Belgium from 10 October 2017 until 21 January 2018 and dedicated exclusively to the invited country’s culture and arts. Coincidentally this year, the festival specifically highlights Indonesian culture and arts.

Makarim Wibisono, the former General Coordinator of Europalia Indonesia and INADIS Board of Trustees member, gave his overview regarding the longstanding friendship between Indonesia and Belgium, emphasizing the festival’s importance to maintain these ties. “The festival had brought together various kinds of actors from the two countries, thereby not limited to government entities.” These diverse of interactions can improve more understanding between people of the two countries. In addition, he also pointed out some skills required by the Millennials to survive the future challenges, which are to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators.

Also in this part, Melani Budianta, a Professor of Literature Studies at FIB UI, recounted her experience of introducing Indonesian literature to Belgian readers during the festival in October. An interesting story comes from a young Indonesian author named Margareta Astaman, who is also a fruit trader. “Apart from bringing her books, she also brought coconuts, salak, mangosteen, and some other local fruits along with her. If you see, these fruits can actually be an alternative way to open up more interactions with the Belgians.” The story also suggested that, in her opinion, Millennials may have a tendency to be more creative and multi-tasking.

The moderator of the seminar, Amira Waworuntu, Executive Director of INADIS, summed up the fact that critical thinking becomes the underlined theme. The fact that Millennials are more open towards (access of) information (should) also make them be able to sharpen their minds when coming across such information. All should be taken with a grain of salt. Before diving into a certain issue; first we must step back and assess the issue at hand critically, not forgetting to include previous generations as our mentors.

Last but not the least, the participants were entertained with a special performance by Svara Samsara, an Indonesian percussion group, which blend together traditional and contemporary music and art through their performance. The group will also perform at the Europalia Festival in December 2017.