Earlier this year, Vice Magazine published a report titled “2020, A Decade in the Making”, which contained insights on Gen Z (those born 1996 onwards) in the segment “A New Generation Coming of Age”, as well as observations on the shift in media practices in the segment “A New Era of Media Emerging”. The key learnings from this report were generated through a survey Vice conducted with its younger audiences. The publication also picked up certain media trends through the performance of their stories.
In “A New Generation Coming of Age”, Vice broke down the Gen Z psyche into 5 major statements, them being “Fluidity is Not a Fad”, “A Call for Change”, “Creativity is Social Currency”, “Committed to Independence” and “Mindful About Wellness”. Without going into the detailed explanations of each statement, we can already pick up what Gen Z is all about. For one, people aged 25 and below don’t believe in old structures, in fact, they don’t even subscribe to the ancient teachings of a binary world. With that said, they are extremely independent people who not only take action and demand change but also do it in an incredibly creative way. Last but not least, despite living in a digitalized world where hyper-change is constantly happening, our youths are actually fuelled by spirituality and value their physical, mental, and emotional wellness as much as the wellbeing of mother earth and our society.
Although Vice’s readership is mostly international and US-based, in a globalized and digitally connected century, our youth in Malaysia is not so different from their foreign counterparts. This can be seen when waves of discussion regarding the #BlackLivesMatter movement, #MeToo movement, and issues such as racial justice, mental health, LGBTQ+ rights and the like started popping up on local social media platforms. That combined with the surge in local art, brands, and smaller publications demonstrate how our young people are dying to craft their own opinions, experiment with alternative forms of storytelling, and projecting them through new platforms.
It is precisely at this turning point where Common Affairs come into play. On one hand, we aim to remind all our readers of our shared commonalities by covering stories that anyone can all relate to. This is especially important in recent times when our world is torn apart by differences and polarizing opinions. On the other hand, we hope to do so by empowering our youth, and this comes in the form of giving them a platform where they are free to express their opinions on the current and future state of the world, while experimenting, learning, and having fun in the process.
The Oxford dictionary defines freedom as a state of being able to do what you want, without anything stopping you. This is why the editorial team has chosen to kickstart the site with three segments, namely Common Cycling Affairs, Common Moto Affairs, and Common Culture Affairs.
Cycling has become an outlet to express individuality within a strongly knitted community, especially for those seeking to combine pleasure and health in one common activity.
Photo by Common Cycling Affairs
Cycling, Motorcycles, and Culture
There is something about cycling and motorcycling that makes both cyclists and motorcyclists feel free and liberated. Part of the reason may be the fact that without the confinements of the box-like structure of vehicles such as cars, trains, ships and planes, one’s senses heighten. You become acutely aware of your surroundings – the road ahead of you, the view on both sides, the sound of the wind rushing through your ears. You even pick up small things like temperature change, like how it’s hot when you ride past a concrete tunnel and how it’s cooling when you’re riding under a row of majestic trees. Cycling and motorcycling exposes the cyclist and rider, basically giving him the opportunity to engage with the world around him.
A motorcyclist we spoke to said that riding a motor is so meditative and therapeutic, he often calls it being in the zone. It is a state of mind where one is totally engrossed in the act of riding and is one with his moto and the road ahead. This is when you stop thinking about the act of riding itself, how the mind moves the muscles required to turn on the throttle further. It is being in the flow, and it is one that helps motorcyclists connect with their inner self, offering immense peace and serenity.
The cyclists that we spoke to on the other hand, often speak of cycling as a freedom of choice. It is a choice to slow down or speed up, to pedal harder or lighter, to push further your physical capabilities and mental boundaries or to take it easy for the time being. After all, cyclists do choose their paths and their routes. One can always stop, continue or do a detour, there is nothing stopping you. Cycling puts the cyclist in the active role, not a passive one.
No matter cycling or motorcycling, the cyclist and motorcyclist is actively participating in what they are doing, and the premise of that is free will. This is why many have said that to drive is to watch a movie, but to cycling or motorcycle is to act in one.
In the study of social science, human agency is defined as the capacity of individuals to act independently on one’s free will. This means to make one’s own free choices, even imposing those choices on the world. One of the best examples to understand human agency is through culture. A lot of people think that cultures are objects with clearly defined shapes and boundaries, together with specific fillings. But decades of anthropological studies have proven that cultures are fluid, dynamic and changes all the time.
Think of culture as an expression. A collective’s way of expressing their identity and values. But the people who make up the collective are not contactless islands, they grow and change and navigate the world on the go, which is why their expressions follow suit and why culture is constantly evolving. In order for a culture to stay relevant, it adapts and changes with time. Culture is not something that is passed down from age to age, unchanged. As humans, we have the agency to renew old cultures or create new ones. Cultures that become obsolete and irrelevant dies, and those that stay are those that find new ways to resonate with each new generation.
With every passing decade a generation is born, a group of youths comes of age, a batch of older youths passes on the baton to the young and moves on as adults. This is the circle of life, and our commonality lies in the journey and experience of it. Likewise, cycling, motorcycling and culture have been around for ages, each staying relevant by revamping themselves over and over again, connecting with generations and generations of youth upcoming.
The lesson here is to celebrate freedom and free voices, space for each generation to use tools like cycling, motorcycling and culture for expression. The lesson here is also to learn that no matter how the plot and story changes, no matter how cycling, motorcycling and culture has evolved into new forms and interpretations over the decade, we still share the same call to be free souls in this world. We are all called to support each other in that way.