Design a site like this with
Get started


The highly complex, highly dynamic world overwhelms people. Due to the lack of instruments and strategies for how to live in such a world and for how to change the situation, they take cover. They try out escape routes, retreat into private life, into their families, into groups, into the Internet or into both – into online groups. Here they immerse themselves in order to forget the complicated and threatening outside world, to find out about the coping instruments of the others or simply to disperse. Young people look for reference groups both online and offline. They assimilate voluntarily in order to find recognition. In cold tides and times, belonging provides a warm feeling of security.

Young people are in search of themselves. They want to identify with something.

“Identification”, composed of the Latin words “idem” for “the same” and “facere” for “to make”, means “equation”. Role models, families, groups of friends and branded goods offer opportunities for equation. The idea of an identity has a particularly seductive effect on young people. Identity strengthens their self-image, promises to give them a spiritual and emotional home.

The stylings of young people are visible manifestations of their tendency to orient themselves to external norms. Stripes, muted colors, simple, clear unisex cuts and noble fabrics characterize the style of the 21st century, which is characterized by – nothing. One dresses inconspicuously – plain, up to the insult of the respective opposite. However, it is important that the special label is visible or at least can be guessed by those who know.

The flight into the mirror does not satisfy the representatives of generation Z. They do not want to sink into lonely self-love like Narcissus. They look for the others, get in touch and communicate. They know that Vitamin B is everything – at school, at university and at work. They also want to experience togetherness. On- and offline, they connect with people who mirror them, give them acknowledgment and encouragement.

The goal of staying in the group demands to adapt to the immediate surroundings. A strong commitment to belonging sounds like stress, as if young people feel like they are on a minefield, where a devastating anti-personnel mine can go off at any time as soon as they stray from the right path. But meticulous attention to their immediate social environment and their assimilation movements pay off for the adolescents. In addition to the warming feeling of belonging, they experience a sense of correctness or appropriateness.

Models: T., age 15, S., age 15, X., age 16.

Garment/Styling: Models´s own; Pink Sweater: Studio Loesch.

Text: Gisela Schmalz: „Mein fremder Wille – Wie wir uns freiwillig unterwerfen und die Tech-Elite kassiert“ (“My Alienated Will – How We Voluntarily Submit and the Tech Elite Cashes In”), 2020, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/Main (Excerpts from Chapter 1 – The Calculable; translated by G. Schmalz).

Copyright © Gisela Schmalz. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: