What it is: The big-screen adaptation by Disney of Madeleine L’Engle’s controversial 1962 children’s book hits theaters today.
Why it’s hopeful: Chronicling the heroics of 13-year-old protagonist Meg Murry, “The book, and the movie, is about what it means to be a source of light in a world in which darkness seems only to proliferate.” It’s also a great reminder to never look down upon our tweens/teens because they are young. Often they possess the wonder and will to dream of a better world, while we adults tend to “accept the way things are because they’ve always been that way.” In fact, Gen Z is often called the “Founder Generation” for their desire to start a new society based on racial, religious, and gender equality. Ask your kids: If you could solve one societal issue what would it be? How would you go about bringing redemption into a broken situation?
Why it’s more of what you love: Each week, there are way more than 3 things happening to shape the next generation. So if you want more than just the 3-4 things covered in this email, The Culture Insider will take you on a deep dive of pop culture, uncovering 10 to 15 stories in technology, sexuality, faith, media, film, politics, and sports to equip you to start transformative conversations with your teens. Pop culture aims to shape us into its own image by normalizing behaviors, beliefs, and values. Let us help you and your teens take captive every thought, idea, and influence as we equip you with the wisdom you need to raise the next generation. Sign up for The Culture Insider today!
Why it’s addictive: Similar to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the game pits 100 players against each other in a last-man-standing format. Though the odds of winning are even lower than winning the Hunger Games, it’s enough to keep a player coming back round after round, hoping to be the ultimate victor. Its quirky humor (players can do dance moves and collect silly costumes while playing) also adds to its appeal and is perhaps why it’s currently the most-watched game on Twitch. Though not as graphically violent as other first-person shooters, the premise itself only reinforces the “me against the world” mentality (which is ironically the exact opposite of its counterpart Fortnite: Save the World). Allow the game to open up conversations between you and your gamers about collaboration, community, and working together.
The Spring Break Phenomenon
March marks the beginning of spring break season, and this month, hundreds of thousands of students will migrate south for fun and sun in what is now popularly described as “the spring break phenomenon.” In most cases, the scene can only be described as debauchery, and perhaps nowhere else can the nature of hook-up culture be witnessed so explicitly. The ethos, and lie, of spring break is that anything goes, you can do whatever you want with no consequences—go wild, get crazy, get wasted, have sex. What happens on Spring Break stays on Spring Break.
According to a Penn State professor, this annual rite of passage is indicative of a larger social problem among students: “The more you are part of the party atmosphere in the university, the more likely you are to engage in those behaviors during spring break,” including binge drinking and casual sex. A survey of last year’s spring break attendees reveals that 30% of respondents said they had “8 or more” drinks during the day while on spring break, and 65% of respondents said they had at least one sexual experience. It’s a dangerous cocktail of alcohol-induced inhibition, sexual exploitation, and peer pressure that often leads to unwanted and damaging sexual encounters.
But unlike the expectation, Spring Break isn’t a time when the laws of the universe are suspended; every cause still has an effect. And those who participate become slaves of the system, bound by self-destructive norms and the consequences long after their hangovers fade to distant memories.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can begin teaching our kids at young ages how to rest well and discern the emptiness behind the tempting facade. And even if our kids are already in college, we can still have constructive conversations that point toward the deeper, more fulfilled life. If you’re looking for ways to redeem this annual tradition while equipping your teen to resist the normalization of illicit behavior, check out our “Parent’s Guide to Spring Break.” It’s an incredible read that will help you understand the root issues and how to draw your kids into a grander, more fulfilling narrative.
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A highly curated list of changes in student culture that happened this week!
They said it best:
1. “In order for you to be a ‘missionary’ dislodge the ‘conceptual’ ways you approach people in everyday life, and start with the language they are using. Then translate Gospel using that very language. This might take some time.”
2. “Bringing this type of technology into the home will inevitably change your relationship to other inhabitants, by giving you the ability to track your family’s comings and goings more closely and to use software to peer deep into the habits of your spouse or children in ways perhaps you never thought possible.”
–Nick Statt, reviewing the new Lighthouse security camera. We love how he frames his statement, revealing an important truth and prompting a great question. We’d put it this way: Bringing any type of technology into the home will change your relationships. So consider carefully which tech you allow.
4. Kevin Love, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward, wrote a very honest and important piece about mental health because, “…mostly, I want to [tell my story] because people don’t talk about mental health enough. And men and boys are probably the farthest behind.” The stigma around mental health has lessened recently, which is why it’s so important to keep changing the conversation about mental health. It’s not just someone else’s problem, and seeking help doesn’t make you weird or different. It’s like the title of the article says, “Everyone Is Going Through Something.” With teen suicide on the rise, now is the time for these important conversations, especially with our young men.
5. Have technological innovations changed arts and high culture? Are they any different today from low culture and entertainment? Do teens even think art matters at all? We can at least answer the first question. Definitely. With “made for Instagram” installations in museums and entire venues created for getting the perfect shot for your feed,how we interact with art has had a major effect on how its made and how we perceive it.
6. Our phones in particular also have an effect on the artists themselves and how they make their art. On one hand, this is a boon, making it easier to create beautiful images with less equipment. On the other hand, phones themselves have changed the subjects that artists try to capture. For example, John Meyerowitz, a famed street photographer says, “Nobody’s looking at each other. Everybody’s glued to their phones.” Yet street photography still exists? “It’s thriving but not in the way I used to do it. . . . The street has lost its savour.” Art styles have always been in flux, so do teens see this as a progression of the medium? Or has something been lost in the world of a rt?
7. Netflix hasn’t always provided parents with the best control over what kids can watch on the site, but a new change to their parental controls is taking a step in the right direction. Still not the greatest, but better than before.
8. Ryan Avent argues that the nature of work has changed for many professionals. It is not simply what we do; it is who we are. He claims it’s one of the reasons we work so much. It’s kind of sad, especially because working less might be better for us. There’s more to life than productivity; there is more to life than busyness. A reader, inspired by the Realism phone, shared with us one of her favorite books and ideas, The Gift of Nothing. Sometimes the best thing we can give to someone use is no“thing,” but rather our presence, time, and attention—no phones, work, or schedule in sight.
Christianity and faith
9. As we approach Easter and the celebration of the resurrection in this season of Lent, consider reflecting with your teens one where we honestly find our daily hope. We face the temptation of techno-utopianism of Silicon Valley. But, it’s become increasingly clear that technology will let us down. Youth and being alive itself is offered at as the ultimate hope. That the old adage, “Where there’s life, there is hope,” should be pursued at all costs. The world acts as though life equals winning and death equals losing. But there’s more to it than that. This season and celebration reminds us that our hope actually springs up from death. We have hope beyond death. We need not fear death. Therefore, let us go boldly into the world to proclaim the true hope that we have.
Winning by not winning
10. his past week, Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile, died. What we found most impressive about him, though, was that his goal in breaking that barrier was not to set a glorious record for himself. He wanted to break it to show that it could be done and hoped that others would soon follow. It’s an unusual kind of attitude, especially in American culture, where being a G.O.A.T. is one of the highest achievements possible. But it’s also maybe not always the best achievement possible. An attitude of humility is often more attractive, even if your name doesn’t go in the record books. To be the greatest is a seductive pursuit, but we’ve been shown a different way. Our children may look up to Jeff Bezos (richest man) and see his success as laudable. But make sure they also consider the way of Chuck Feeney, who took a different path. And most obviously, as Easter approaches, consider how to align your life with the way of the cross, which was the greatest triumph of winning by not winning.