#WhatWeDoNext: Billie Eilish x PULSE x Telekom Celebrate Gen Z
Gen Z — born in the mid-1990s to early 2010s — seems to remain something of an enigma to earlier generations. They are often negatively stereotyped as screen-obsessed, self-serving, superficial, social media addicts who are disengaged with “reality”. Pulse collaborated with Billie Eilish and Telekom to bust this particular myth with the #WhatWeDoNext campaign, which aims to showcase and celebrate the broad range of raw talent in this generation.
Gen Z’s cultural heavyweights are still young, but they move with drive, focus, and determination. They are activists, creators, go-getters, and incredibly tech-savvy. As part of this campaign, Billie Eilish is championing 6 Gen Z influencers who are doing extraordinary things with their platforms. From left to right:
Fabian Grischkat is a German musician, comedian, and YouTube personality. The 19-year-old is currently best known for his elaborate, almost slapstick videos, musical parodies, and forthright daily musings on TikTok and Instagram. However, Fabian also uses his popular channels to advocate for LGBTQI+ rights, including releasing a video in conjunction with Youth Against Aids to commemorate Christopher Street Day. Campaigning for equality is always at the core of his message, in tandem with other timely topics such as political participation, climate change awareness, and plant-based and sustainable lifestyle choices.
Eirini Vougiouka is a 19-year-old climate activist, and advocates for an environmentally conscious lifestyle across all generations. Following in the footsteps of Greta Thunberg’s global call-to-action, Eirini brought Thunberg’s Fridays For Future movement—an international school strike against climate change—to her hometown of Athens and then extended it across Greece as a whole. She’s spoken out about the urgency of sustainable practices in front of the Greek parliament, on television, radio, on the stages of the 2019 SMILE summit in Lausanne and the 17th CSR conference. When she relocated to the Netherlands in August of 2019, Eirini set up a Fridays For Future branch in The Hague. She now aspires to promote a sustainable lifestyle through her social media platforms.
20-year-old Philipp Kalweit is Germany’s most in-demand hacker and renowned IT security expert. He has been advising companies on IT security issues since he was 16. His expertise includes public relations and education, holistic security audits and interdisciplinary consulting. In 2017, Philipp founded the consulting company ‘Kalweit ITS GmbH’ and, over a period of two years, led a multi-generational team with members from 21 to 48. His mission, however, remains constant: promote sustainable cybersecurity in the digital world of tomorrow. He firmly believes IT security should be comprehensive, transparent, and accessible for everyone. Last January, Forbes Magazine declared him one of the most important young “30 under 30” entrepreneurs in the German, Austrian, and Swiss regions.
Sustainable fashion activist Anna-Laura Kummer is the founder and creative director of ‘The Slow Label’. This 24-year-old created her own fashion label with an emphasis on fair manufacturing processes, which aims to put the breaks on the “fast fashion” industry. Anna-Laura has spent nearly a decade building a loyal audience and spreading her campaign around the world via Instagram and YouTube. She is also an outspoken advocate for sustainability, fair fashion, and planet-friendly nutrition, with daily tips and tricks on how to live a more environmentally-conscious life.
Jahkini’s mission is to make political enfranchisement a reality for young people everywhere. She began working at the United Nations as the Netherland’s youth representative at just 18 years old. During her two-year tenure, she spoke to thousands of young people to hear their thoughts on topics like racism, social mobility & inequality, and political enfranchisement. Now, aged only 20, Bisselink continues to dedicate her life to civil service. On her Instagram, she regularly shares resources and tools to help her peer group voice their concerns. Recently, she also founded Jahkini Consultancy, a platform through which she advises companies and institutions on how to bridge generational gaps and sustain meaningful relationships with young people.
Leo is a Warsaw-based DJ with an ear for trap, dancehall, reggaeton, and afro-influenced beats. She is also one of the few female hip-hop DJs and the only female tour DJ on the Polish scene. This 21-year-old is a co-founder of the FINESSE collective, known for throwing its trap parties and for bringing artists such as Suicideyear or Places + Faces to Poland. At 15, she finished her first degree in music in her hometown. At 18, Leo had already begun playing her first DIY parties at Metronom club in Warsaw and was enrolled in music production school at SMN in Wroclaw. Just two years later, she became Zabson’s tour DJ and hypeman—a role she still holds today.
Despite operating in vastly different fields, all these Gen Z leaders harbour a fiercely egalitarian vision for the future. By utilizing their various technological strengths, whether it’s a pithy Instagram story, YouTube web series, or taking over the DJ decks, this collective defies the Gen Z stereotype of superficial and self-serving interactions by driving forward global movements with unprecedented momentum.
“Maybe the next time they see us staring at a screen, and they ask us what we’re doing on it, why don’t we show them what we’re doing WITH it” – Billie Eilish, 2020.