Vol. 2 Issue 46 | November 18, 2016
Three Things This Week
1. Black Beatles
Why it’s influential: If these artists are indeed the modern day Beatles (as the title implies), their cultural impact is going to be off the charts. Their lyrics normalize alcohol/drug abuse, sexual freedom, and extravagance as proof “you’ve arrived.” Their message reinforces to our students that in order to be successful, you must be popular, sensational, and dominant. Remember, entertainers are more influential than politicians in shaping the minds and hearts of the next generation. Are we equally concerned about the songs of our nation as we are with the laws of our nation?
Ask your teen: What does success look like? How does this vision of upward mobility compete with the divine paradox seen in Scripture, where total freedom and fulfillment are found in self-sacrifice and service?
2. Cuffing Season
What it is: Dropping temps and the holiday season signal the beginning of cuffing season, when millennials and post-millennials may be pressured to find a serious relationship to cope with darker days and colder nights.
Why it’s bad: Cuffing, short for “handcuffing” (i.e. chaining yourself to someone), means choosing a permanent Netflix and chill buddy…permanent until spring or a summer fling. Considering the drastic decline in dating, these modern relationships are fairly long-term commitments, but they are specifically designed to be transient and transactional. Cuffing turns people into products that provide value only as a cure for loneliness or temporary sexual gratification.
3. NFL on VR
What it is: The NFL is launching a YouTube series on Thanksgiving Day that is designed for virtual reality (VR) headsets. The immersive, 360-degree, 9-episode documentary shows viewers what football is like through the eyes of fans, coaches, cheerleaders, and players.
Why it’s important: This is yet another example of how technology can take a community experience and turn it into an individual encounter. Worse, it comes during Thanksgiving, a time set aside to bring families together. In the United States, watching football on Turkey Day is long standing tradition, but VR is specifically designed to remove viewers from their physical surroundings by offering an alternative, private, solitary world. When you gather with your family next week, ask this question: Do your holiday entertainment choices foster isolating experiences or shared ones?
Bonus: Peach emoji to resemble a posterior once again, thanks to the power of complaining on the Internet about things that really don’t matter.
Red Feed, Blue Feed
63% of Americans use Facebook as their primary news source—not necessarily a good thing when we consider that news on social media is carefully curated, meaning the algorithms are designed to only show us articles and posts we will like and agree with.
Demonstrating just how dangerous that practice is, The Wall Street Journal created two different Facebook feeds, one blue (liberal-slanted news), one red (conservative-slanted news), and the outcome was astonishing. The experiment showed that for any given topic, partisan Facebook users received entirely different stories based on their pre-conceived biases. Scholars call this the echo-chamber effect, whereby social media surrounds us with like-minded people in closed communities and then only delivers content with which we all agree. It leads to blind spots, polarization, intolerance, and the inability to cultivate critical thinking and healthy discourse skills.
In fact, Oxford Dictionary just named “post-truth” the word of the year because we live in a society where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than overt (and sometimes factless) appeals to emotion and ideology. What’s worse: Fake news is now more viral than real news, thanks to those appeals to emotion.
Students need discipleship in order to become humble, critical-thinking Christians capable of respectful discourse, admitting fault, and pursuing truth. And the world needs Christians to be champions of truth and civility more than ever.
1. What is the source of my information and is it reliable?
2. Should I trust the truthfulness of news on social media? Why or why not?
3. Am I actively engaged with someone in real life who disagrees with me politically or religiously? How could that change how I see the world?
4. Am I listening more than talking/sharing? And who am I listening to?
5. Am I demonizing individuals who disagree with me, or can I recognize our shared humanity?
6. Do I use labels to define and negate “others” (fundamentalist, liberal, welfare mom)?