Volume 2 Issue 1 | January 8, 2015

Volume 2 Issue 1 | January 8, 2015



What It Is: A viral 10-part Netflix documentary released on December 18 about the controversial conviction of a man and his nephew for murder.

Why It's Important: The series claims the defendants were framed. Subsequently, two petitions to exonerate them (here and here; ~475,000 signatures combined to date) were created and circulated. Yet the lead prosecutor for the case claims the documentary left out crucial facts and doesn’t present the whole picture. This is a perfect example of the power of media to influence our beliefs, as well as our willingness as a culture to form snap judgments without knowing all the facts. But we are responsible for how we allow media to influence our beliefs. Watching the series with your students could be a great teaching tool, opening the door for conversations about justice, media, news media, why we shouldn’t base opinions on one source, how to find truth, social activism, and the blurring line between entertainment and real life. (Bonus: Digg’s list of things to read once you’re done watching the series.)


What It Is: Twitter has updated its rules to clarify what it considers to be “abusive behavior and hateful conduct” in order to protect users from harassment while still upholding freedom of expression.

Why It's Good: As we’ve seen with other social media platforms, anonymity and lack of monitoring lead to increased cyber-bullying and violence. For Twitter to continue to revamp its rules demonstrates the company’s willingness to create a positive online community.

Why It's Bad: Enforcing these rules could easily turn into censorship, especially against those who take a stand for something they believe in that goes against current cultural norms. In addition, Twitter’s current restrictions could simply be seen as a nuisance and are easily worked around for those who wish to continue harming others. Clearly, bullying is increasing, not decreasing, indicating that the problem runs deeper than behavior.

In light of this, we’ve created a helpful virtual training series called “Gossip” to address the heart of the matter. It can be used in your school, church, or home. To learn more, go to axis.org/virtual and watch the trailer here.


What It Is: The 2016 People’s Choice Awards aired Wednesday.

Why It's Important: Though only the first of many awards shows of the year, the People’s Choice Awards are one of few to be determined by a public vote. Therefore, the winners and nominees in the 65 categories may reflect what the public watched, listened to, followed, and cared about more accurately than any other awards show. Glance through the list to get a great idea of who/what influenced us in 2015 and will continue to in 2016.


We recently asked our millennial interns to find a piece of media that had hijacked their imaginations when they were younger into believing that something outside of God’s plan for their lives would be more fulfilling and satisfying than what God offered them. Should we have been surprised when 75% of the girls chose Taylor Swift songs, all mentioning that her music had made them crave the kind of relationships and romantic love she described?!

It’s safe to say that Swift’s music’s ability to “raise the next generation” is only increasing with her popularity. So her newest music video for “Out of the Woods” is an interesting—albeit slight—departure from her usual fare. The video begins with the words, “She lost him,” then ends with her finding herself (literally) instead of “him,” followed by the words, “She lost him, but she found herself, and somehow that was everything.”

Yet she paints a different picture with the lyrics, which describe a relationship that is exciting at best and tenuous at worst. As she explained in an interview, though the relationship seems doomed from the start, she still believes it’s worth it: “Even if a relationship is . . . fragile and full of anxiety, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worthwhile, exciting, beautiful.”

These two visions of fulfillment are contradictory, but they’re both compelling. And wrong. Fulfillment doesn’t come from romantic relationships, but it also doesn’t come from ourselves. Yes, romance can be part of our journey, and God can use it to teach us so much about ourselves, others, and Him. But we can have abundant life without it. Yet we don’t find the answer within ourselves, either. True fulfillment comes only from perfect Love. Yet if we’re not showing that Love to students, showing them constantly how God’s fulfillment is beyond anything we get from ourselves or others, then one of Swift’s visions—which are always in their ears—will win their hearts and minds, as our interns can attest.