The Anxiety of Gen Z | January 31, 2020
Three Things This Week
1. Streaming Wars
What it is: While Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney, CBS, Amazon, Santa, and everyone else battle for our streaming dollars (and hours), a new streaming war—one that may be more relevant to Gen Z—has emerged: Esports (i.e. video game) streaming.
Why it’s just as overwhelming: Amazon’s Twitch has been a groundbreaker and major player in this arena, but Microsoft recently joined the game with Mixer and got Fortnite-streaming legend Ninja to stream there exclusively. Not to be outdone, Google’s YouTube made some power moves this week, landing exclusivity contracts with the Call of Duty and Overwatch leagues, both of which are extremely popular with gamers. (And lest we’re tempted to overlook Facebook Gaming (language), it experienced massive growth in 2019.) It all amounts to one thing: Video games are becoming more accessible and more ubiquitous by the day, and just as with anything else in our culture, we need to disciple our kids to approach them with wisdom, discernment, and good boundaries.
What it is: A recent poll (conducted on Instagram) found that—get this—94% of respondents aged 18-25 “believe we are currently experiencing a climate crisis,” and many of them experience what has been dubbed “eco-anxiety” over what will happen in the future.
Why it’s not all bad: Of course, we don’t want our teens living in constant anxiety, but what’s amazing about Gen Z is their willingness to do something about what they believe is wrong. The study also found that 95% of them are “willing to change their habits and lifestyle to combat global warming” and 84% of them are “willing to spend more on sustainable products.” Of course, a more rigorous study would yield more reliable numbers, but these figures do point to an emerging mindset amongst Gen Z. This means that even if we fundamentally disagree with our Gen Zers on environmental issues, we must be willing to dialogue with them, hear their perspectives, and join them in stewarding God’s Creation.
What it is: TikTok has some competition! Byte, the long-awaited reboot of the once-beloved Vine app, went live last week, reaching at the time of writing #35 on iOS and #18 on Android for top free apps.
Why it might be huge: Though it’s already having major problems with bots and spammy comments/accounts, it’s clearly gained attention. And their creator-focused approach could cement its place as a social-media fav for Gen Z. Featuring six-second looping videos, the app hopes to differentiate itself by making it easier for content creators to make money from the get go. A pilot of their partner program will launch soon, and if it works, it could lure many influencers (and their fan bases) away from TikTok, which has been slow to compensate its stars. And since it’s an entirely new frontier, many teens who hope to gain followership may quickly migrate before it becomes too saturated with big names.
What Is The Culture Translator?
With over 50,000 subscribers and counting, many of whom are new (welcome!), we thought it’d be helpful to give an overview of what The Culture Translator is, is not, and how you as parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, etc. can make the most of this timely publication.
First, this newsletter is a weekly glimpse into your teen’s world. We sort and sift through what’s happening in social media, entertainment, technology, sports, and other cultural trends, then curate what we believe is directly or indirectly shaping your teen’s heart and mind. Our goal in doing this is to make it easier to start conversations about the issues that matter most to your kids in ways that gently guide them toward Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and God Himself. In the process, we hope to provide you with Christ-like responses. Unfortunately, when saying something about these weighty issues, we cannot say everything (yay, word counts!), so please know that these short articles are a mere introduction into much larger conversations to have with your teens.
Second, it’s important to remember that while we might encourage you to think about a cultural icon from a certain perspective, we do our best to remain open, non-prescriptive, and non-dualistic. We don’t want to teach you what to think, but rather how to think about these topics through the lens of Jesus. We want to equip you with the ability to resist simplistic reactions that divide every topic into polar extremes. We believe education is vastly superior to indoctrination, which is why we do our best to ask questions instead of providing pat answers.
Finally, we pray that what we write in The Culture Translator will develop empathy in your heart for all the challenges the next generation is facing on a daily basis. Each day your kids jump head first into a world in constant flux. Can you imagine what it’s like to be them? To have 24/7 access to p*rnography? To experience the anxiety our performance-based culture places on them to succeed, win, and achieve at all costs? Growing up is hard. They are going to make mistakes. It’s how we respond to those mistakes that will make a world of difference.
We’re humbled to be on this journey with you as you lead, guide, admonish, encourage, and inspire your kids to live like Jesus in this crazy world. Of course, we’re human, so we will make mistakes, but we’ll continue to seek God’s guidance and conviction each week. We’re thankful for your heart for the next generation and that you’re here with us!
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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