“Oh, but you’re not like them!”

The story behind Exit the Matrix

How often I have been one of the few, or only one of color at events or in groups. There, being the one always captured in the photo makes me feel special, but odd at the same time. As a child of immigrant parents, I still don’t know how to respond to “Oh, but you’re not like them!”. You're giving me a compliment as a person, but at the same time you think my culture is wrong? Talking to others of my generation I feel that we share similar upbringings, where we were raised with our family culture, but went to school in a different one. Now living in and embracing this latter one, I hear it’s still hard to feel at home. Because we feel that our family culture is not fully ours and because we’re treated, mostly subtly, in stereotypes of our predecessors in this new culture, we feel homeless.

Even though technology has made it possible to enrich ourselves with new connections from all over the world, I feel that we rarely really surround ourselves or make new close friends with people from other cultures. Are we saturated and exhausted with impulses of the new? Or has the digital age been counterproductive by making human interaction more disconnected, secluded with online shopping and Slack chats. With so little time left in both work and life, we’d rather avoid or type our frustrations than confront each other face to face. At the same time, we just don't have the energy to go out and ask people when Google is a swipe away, order our food and groceries online, shut our environment off with our headphones and our neighbors become strangers. In this fast paced world, we'd prefer our default options with little spontaneity, making us live side by side programmed with little interaction with other layers of society left.

I fear that if we start living more and more in our own social and digital bubbles, our own matrix, our empathy level and patience with the ‘outside’ decreases. Or worse, forgetting the 'outside' and thinking that this matrix is the truth... Driven by my personal experience and passion, with 3310 - School for Millennials I organize events with the subject of inclusion to create awareness and to give practical tools on how to give each other more TLC. The first event of this kind will be 3310's first escape room Exit the Matrix, premiering at Icarus Festival Amsterdam (24th of August 2019). For tickets visit: http://icarus-amsterdam.nl/

exitmatrixWing Yan Man