Join the National Day of Unplugging | March 6, 2020
Three Things This Week
1. No Place Is Safe
What it is: Apple users will now be getting push notification advertisements on their iOS devices, thanks to new changes to their App Store guidelines.
Why it feels wrong: Even though we’re surrounded by ads, there are still some places we consider to be off limits, “safe,” even sacred, and we feel that using them for monetary gain is an unforgivable offense. Push notifications are one of those places, perhaps because they’re supposed to help us and tell us what we want to know, not what someone else wants us to know. So opening them up to app developers as yet another marketing frontier feels...personal. Luckily, users must opt in to receive them, but it’s not far-fetched to think that developers could find ways to make it hard to do so. This will be something you’ll want to talk with your teens about and show them how to opt out, as well as purposefully opt out of on any devices your younger kids have access to. (Check out our Parent’s Guide to iOS for more about parental controls.)
What it is: Twitter announced a new “fleeting tweet” feature on Wednesday in an effort to remain relevant to their current users, as well as to potentially reach new ones.
Why it’s iterative: Currently only being tested in Brazil, the company hopes that having tweets that disappear after 24 hours (and can’t be retweeted, liked, or publicly responded to) will encourage more content generation and more time spent on the app. The layout and function of it are highly familiar (see: Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories…) and, despite being impermanent, can still be screenshotted into infamy. Citing the “performative” aspect of tweets, they hope fleets will feel more informal and relaxed. But as we’ve seen with fleets’ predecessors, these, too, can easily become all about how many views (as opposed to likes and retweets) they get. But if fleets become successful, it’s quite possible that teens’ fav apps could reverse adopt some of their unique features.
What it is: Can a faux social media platform filled with bots “who are obsessed with you” offer us a safe place to be vulnerable and honest? Botnet, a new app that simulates the good parts of being famous, thinks it can (language).
Why it’s an interesting experiment: As this writer put it (language), the app functions “basically like a diary. While the bots give you the impression of there being interaction, you're actually just writing down your thoughts in a closed system that no one but yourself will see.” You can pay $1 to turn on the “dad joke” bots or the “troll” bots, but ultimately, the creator, Billy Chasen, wanted the app to be a happy place, so none of it reflects the reality of what happens to celebrities in the actual digital world. But maybe that’s ok? Chasen wonders if having “one place you can vent, you can be yourself” could be good. We wonder if it might help us interact with real social media in less attention-needy ways. What does your teen think about the concept?
National Day of Unplugging
Portable technology truly altered our world, especially once it became small enough and powerful enough to bring the Internet with us everywhere we went. As part of an effort to help younger generations be more intentional in their use and adoption of such technologies, Axis often speaks to middle and high school students about how our devices have impacted our lives, both for better and worse. Some are skeptical or feel like we’re attacking them (we’re not, but their reaction is understandable), but most of them truly begin to get it.
Yet when we get to the end and encourage them to intentionally choose regular times to turn their phones off in order to interact with their immediate surroundings, they often look extremely discouraged. When we ask why, it’s not because they refuse to unplug; it’s because they can’t because their parents will be angry if they can’t get a hold of them. Some of them even say they see the need to unplug and reconnect as a family, but that the rest of the family won’t get on board.
We adults and parents can help change that. One way to do so is to participate in the National Day of Unplugging. Tonight (March 6), starting at sundown, people across the US will be forgoing their devices for 24 hours in order to “connect with ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities in real time.” We highly encourage you, your families, your small groups, your churches, your schools, or even your youth groups to participate. Knowing that so many other people will be doing the same thing at the same time can be really empowering and encouraging, as well as be enough to break the rhythms we might feel powerless to break.
If you can’t join in so last minute, that’s ok! Set aside your own day or event in the next few weeks, planning plenty of other activities to fill the time and to remind yourself, your family, and your community of all the other good things with which God has blessed us in this life. And consider making it a regular event, since we all need regular “resets” the upset our habits and open our eyes and hearts to the deeper truths.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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