Why should we care about conflicts in countries we’ve never heard of, or partake in discussions about politics we have no say in? After spending a month in Kiev, reporting on the aftermath of the Ukrainian Revolution and the escalation of the Ukrainian Crisis, I learned a lot about human suffering and the struggle to thrive. Those lessons are universal. In our increasingly globalized world, these human experiences affect our daily lives no matter where in the world we live.
As members of Generation-Y, we use powerful tools every day that make our lives easier. If used correctly, these applications can ease human suffering -- and all from just our smart phones.
Personally, I define myself as an iPhone user more often than I call myself an American. In our increasingly globalized world, national boundaries seem less relevant.
Cheap airfare allowed many of us to go to colleges away from home and develop friendships with people from all over the world.
Facebook allowed us to maintain those relationships. For the first time in human history, the age group historically known for sparking mass movements that have rocked revolutions, taken down governments and pushed groundbreaking social changes, is connected. We are members of iWorld. It is within this world of technology and social media that we can tackle anything, together.
In the past, access to information has been closely guarded by the elite as a way to control the masses. Today, access to information flows freely with the growth of literacy rates worldwide and the increased availability of the Internet.
With today’s social media, people who would have been denied a platform to express their voices a few years ago can distribute ideas and reach an audience impossible at any other time in history.
You have a voice. Your voice is powerful.
Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram connect people and ideas through handles, hashtags, status updates and personal biographies. We’ve made digital friends who share common interests and we don’t need to speak the same language. Google Translate allows us to speak online, even if we cannot speak in person. Although social media platforms make us more connected online, we are becoming increasingly less connected in the real world.
This weekend, a group of New York-based Millennials are trying to change that. We want to bring social media full circle and reconnect with one another again in real life.
Elite Daily, New York University’s EU Society and the non-profit Razom for Ukraine will join forces to ask this question: How, as a generation, can we be creative and collaborative enough to make an impact on our world?
The conversation will take place around a 16-foot semi truck, which has been turned into a mobile art gallery. Alena Vezza, the Ukrainian photographer, and I will display our collective photo series about the Ukrainian Revolution. We’ve dubbed the show, “Two Girls. One Revolution.” We’ve also teamed up with the surf punk director GUTTERDUST to make a promo video for our Mobile Gallery that blends politics and pop culture.
Two months ago, I began a project called #UkraineRising, a multifaceted awareness campaign about the Ukrainian Crisis. The project aimed to explain the conflict to Millennials by giving the crisis a human face through intimate articles, videos, photos, social media reporting, a fine art gallery show, an Urban Guerrilla Gallery and now a Mobile Gallery. Our YouTube series used stylized cinematography and featured music from popular bands to tell the story using visual language our MTV generation can understand. We are taking this project one step further, by broadening the discussion to how our generation can contribute to other causes.
For those of you who are not aware, the Ukrainian Revolution was started by students. Young men and women who wanted to make a difference and fight for a better life. Historically, movements have been youth powered. We have been the fuel that rocks the world. We hope this weekend can bring these conversations about Ukraine and about our generation offline and into reality.
Boredom is a luxury. May we never forget what our grandparents went through to provide the freedom we so often take for granted in the United States and European Union.
Let us not be bored, but inspired to care, to innovate and to make a change. Together, we can do anything.
If you are in New York City this Saturday, you can find the Mobile Gallery at Washington Sqaure Park and by following our hashtag #UkraineRising.
Photos Courtesy: Andy Wauman, Alena Vezza and Vanessa Black