Things in this Internet Governance world are confusing sometimes, as your head might have to proceed tons of acronyms and technical theories in a minute, which really triggers frequent packet loss in your brain. It took me a while to be able to make a metaphor with a technical theory lying behind like the one I just made in the previous sentence. But there is a lot more I have gained in this IG community that transforms me from a youth to a youth “expert”.
One month ago, I was in Berlin to attend the14th Internet Governance Forum. It was my pleasure to return to the IGF for the second time as one of the representatives of NetMission.Asia and advocate for our digital rights and participate in the policy-making process. I am lucky that I get to take up different leadership roles so I can continue my journey in IG without headaches, but many young people are struggling with how they could continue their engagement even they are very passionate about Internet Governance.
Being a young woman from the Asia Pacific in this community is challenging sometimes if you want to get your voice heard genuinely. But sometimes I also doubt if the youth is capable enough to offer any practical solutions or contributions to the policy-making process. Especially when we are trying to advocate for those who belong to a marginalized group, while some of us are just the youth from the Global North with admirable passion but wrong thesis and no relevant research backgrounds on the topics. These are the reasons why “youth” is always being labeled as “youth”. And it is pointless to mention youth is trapped in their own bubble while we do not initiate to pop the bubble.
Unlike last year, this time I got to take up more roles by hosting and moderating a workshop session in IGF, representing at the Youth IGF Summit as the coordinator of HKyIGF and Asia Pacific Youth IGF, and speaking at a session at the sustainability corner as a youth “expert” for a discussion about Future skills and digital education. This is definitely a great opportunity to get connect with all the other young talents and initiate the first step to help raise the value of youth in the community and figure out our own place in the IG process.
Six months ago, I felt like my engagement in IG has reached a saturation point until I have gained more knowledge about the industry and experience from my daily life. Engaging youth in the policy-making process is essential, but to empower them to contribute to the actual issues is even more important, where we can help resolve the problems with everyone in this community.
If you are scrolling your Instagram on a 15-minute interval basis and your Facebook feed is filled up with fake news, why would you concern more about Internet access than disinformation? Even though we do not have an extremely experienced technical background, we could still bring our opinions on certain topics that we are familiar with to the discussion table. Starting with the smallest struggle we have in our daily life about the Internet and stay focused first. I believe we will be able to expand on it and eventually transform into a youth “expert” one day.
Undeniably, the Internet is our life nowadays. The column at bottom of the Maslow’s hierarchy does not belong to physiological needs anymore but Wi-Fi to many millennials. I believe it might take some time for youth to narrow down the knowledge gap in order to be capable of bringing their suggestions to the decision table, but before we reach the destination, we should find our place in the IG ecosystem and get our existence counted in the community.
About the writer
Jenna Fung, Community Engagement Lead of DotAsia Organisation
NetMission Ambassador of Class 2017/2018
Coordinator of Asia Pacific YIGF and Hong Kong Youth IGF
Program committee member of APIGA 2019