Vol 2. Issue 14 | April 8, 2016
Three Things This Week
1. Villanova v. UNC
What it is: When Villanova hit a 3-point buzzer shot to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship, fans everywhere went nuts—not just Nova fans for the victory, but also UNC haters (think Tobacco-Road rival, Duke) for their loss.
Why it’s important: It’s one thing to celebrate when your team wins and quite another to revel in a rival’s loss. After the game, social media exploded with derogatory memes. But we shouldn’t be surprised by this, since our culture celebrates athletes with a “better than thou” mentality (Steph Curry’s antics come to mind). Discuss with your students what competition should look like in light of Proverbs 24:17-18, as well as ask them to think of athletes/teams who embody gracious competitiveness.
2. Facebook Live & ChrisPrattSnap
Why it’s important: With the success of live-casting apps Meerkat and Periscope, other social networks are looking to capitalize on people’s curiosity and FOMO. Pratt joining Snapchat means that students will spend more time on the app wondering what snaps he’ll post next. Facebook’s new feature means that the desire to know what everyone’s up to will only become more tempting. So, how are you helping your students combat the temptation to spend more time online and less time in face to face relationships? How can you teach them that social media is part of life, not life itself?
3. Schumer v. Glamour
Why it’s good: Though Schumer’s no paragon of virtue, she has been outspoken about body positivity and ending the objectification of women. Her main concern was that females of all ages would see the issue and think of her size 6-8 body as “plus size,” further distorting their self worth and view of beauty. While Glamour did issue a statement saying that they included her in the issue because of her inspiring message of body positivity, not because of her size, many are using the controversy to begin a discussion of the helpfulness/harmfulness of such labels.
One Thing to Discuss:
Us, Them, and The Walking Dead
Sometimes, the darker aspects of human nature come to light when teenagers get together (Mean Girls, anyone?). Maybe it’s just insecurity, or their inability to see the larger story, but students can be ruthless with one another. One way this manifests itself is the “Us vs. Them” mentality that divides the world into “in-groups” (us) and “out-groups” (them). Teens label everyone and everything (jock, band geek, hipster, ditz, slut, cool, uncool…), then find ways to ostracize and ridicule whatever they’re not while increasing their self-image by enhancing the status of the group to which they belong.
But let’s be honest: They got this social identity theory from us.
Something in all of us wants to categorize the world into “Us” and “Them.” We do it all the time: you/me, rich/poor, my school/your school, gay/straight, liberal/conservative, the “good guys”/the “bad guys,” etc., etc. Almost every superhero, sci-fi, and action film/TV show sets up this paradigm in one way or another.
For example, AMC’s The Walking Dead has pitted Rick Grimes and his crew against slews of “bad guys,” who are usually categorized as such for their brutality and lack of morality. What’s ironic is that this judgment of their complete badness is the basis for categorizing them as “them,” thereby justifying Grimes’ cohorts’ savagery, brutality, lack of mercy, and extreme violence against them: “We have to come for them before they come for us.” The finale of Season 6, which aired Sunday, was a prime example of that.
Of course, when teens categorize, it’s not typically a matter of life and death (until it is) like on these shows, but TWD and similar shows are a great way to begin the conversation with your students/children. Some questions to ask:
- How do your students exaggerate the differences between groups?
- How do labels make us feel like we’re better than others?
- If everyone is created in God’s image, are “Us vs Them” categories even real?
- Are labels ever helpful?
- Does God use labels? If so, how?
- Is it ok to use any measure to stop evil (as Rick Grimes does)? Why or why not?
Ultimately, there is only one “Us” and one “Them” that matters: “sinners saved by grace” and “sinners in need of grace.”
Tip: Are both you and your spouse receiving this email each week? If not, it’s a great way to get on the same page, work as a team, and have great conversations about your family’s values, priorities, and habits!
Corrections: Last week, we forgot to include a link to information about our presentation on cyberbullying. Here it is. Also, we incorrectly typed the name of Lukas Graham’s song; it’s called “7 Years.”