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Episode 02

Generation Z and Tech Culture - Liz Smith

Generation Z is the first generation to have grown up with the internet and smartphones from birth. What impact has this had? In this episode host Menka Sanghvi speaks to film director Liz Smith about her new documentary “I Am Gen Z”.

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About the guest

Liz Smith is a filmmaker, mental health advocate, and host of a live event series and podcast “What’s Going On In Your Head?” Her latest film is the documentary “I am Gen Z”.

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Episode notes

Liz began her career working in Yahoo (one of the earliest internet companies) in Silicon Valley, and has seen the trajectory of the digital revolution since those early days. Now, as a filmmaker, she revisits her old world and speaks to a wide range of tech experts to understand how things are unfolding and why - in her view - “technology is broken”.

In many ways this discussion, and her film, celebrate Gen Z’s compassion, curiosity, open-mindedness, deep sense of kindness and fairness, while also looking at the dark patterns affecting young people, and the rest of us too.

Liz and Menka explore themes around addiction, polarisation, perfectionism, privacy, soundbite culture and the seeming luxury of being offline. A “seismic shift” that has occurred in just one generation. One phenomenon which particularly impacts Gen Z is “social cooling” - the feeling of being constantly watched that makes you behave differently.

These are complex issues which Liz talks us through with a refreshing mix of concern, empathy and optimism. If you watch her film after listening to this podcast, we’d love to hear what you make of it @mindovertech.

Bonus content

We found it fascinating to hear Liz Smith interview a panel of 6th formers (16-18 year olds) in London about their thoughts on her I am Gen Z film.

Tools and apps mentioned:

Resources mentioned

  1. I am Gen Z, Liz Smith’s new documentary (we highly recommended it!).
  2. Jeremy Bentham and the panopticon. Liz mentions this 18th century philosopher and social theorist in explaining the “social cooling” effect that Gen Z’s demonstrate.
  3. What’s Going On In Your Head? A series of live events, and a podcast, hosted by Liz. The aim is to explore the secret inner workings of the mind, and learn about some of the more vulnerable aspects of ourselves.
  4. Digital Habit Lab card: Avoid early morning tech. Liz said she struggles not to check her messages straight away, and would like to postpone it until she’s actually in work-mode and sitting at her desk.

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Send us feedback, suggestions, or questions about anything you’ve heard or would like to hear:

The Digital Habit Lab Podcast is produced by Menka Sanghvi and Jonathan Garner. Thanks to Jack Fletcher for audio engineering chops and music.

Show Contributors

  • Liz Smith
  • Menka Sangvhi