1. Pay-to-See TV
What it is: Virtually all the big streaming platforms have announced that their services will cost more and feature more advertising in 2024. Commercials are so back.
What else to know: Just a few decades ago, the tactics of various broadcasting companies was a matter of public ethical concern—and fierce debate. (In his days as a young Tennessee senator, Al Gore accused one cable company executive of conducting a “shake down” on American consumers during a congressional hearing on the matter.) These days, perspectives appear to have shifted. American consumers seem to quietly accept that they will pay more and more money (more, perhaps, than cable ever cost) in order to access vast libraries of commercial-ridden content-on-demand. At least, that’s what Netflix, HBO, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon, and Peacock are all willing to bet.
Continue the conversation: What behaviors from a company would make you cancel a streaming service?
What it is: Meta announced this week that going forward, it will default teen users into its most restrictive content setting.
What it means: For years, Meta has protested against parent and teen advocates who criticized its lack of care for teen users. But the headline of Meta’s new blog post might as well be an admission of guilt. “New Protections to Give Teens More Age-Appropriate Experiences on Our Apps” raises an obvious question: If they’re age-appropriate now, what were they before? All users under 18 who currently have Facebook and Instagram accounts will be automatically opted into a filtering tool that will hide content featuring self-harm, suicide, and eating disorders. They also say they will hide content that features nudity, even if it’s from accounts teens follow.
Continue the conversation: What would a content policy that actually kept teens safe online look like?
3. Who’s Afraid of Andrew Tate?
What it is: American-British social media personality Andrew Tate has quieted down as he navigates serious accusations of sexual assault. Writers and documentary filmmakers are trying to understand what made him so popular to begin with.
Why are we still talking about this guy? Much has been said about Tate’s very public statements on promiscuity, male dominance, and how men should treat women. The very idea that a person could attract a huge online following while openly discussing the degradation and objectification of females was disturbing to many. But behind Tate’s bombastic, macho persona is something else: he personifies the formula for financial success and personal worth that he also happens to sell a monthly subscription to. The desire to be someone like Tate, if not someone who shares his the worst traits, has made waves with young men on both sides of the Atlantic. Britons surveyed in a YouGov poll said that they agreed with what Tate had to say about masculinity, work, and success–-even if they did not agree with what he had to say about women.
Continue the conversation: Are there any “red flag” opinions or statements that would make you unfollow someone on social media right away, even if you admired them?
Song of the Week
“Greedy” by Tate McRae: Tate McRae is no newcomer on the cultural landscape, but her album, “THINK LATER,” has been a breakout success for the young singer/songwriter. This success is led by her single “greedy”, which has hovered in the top 50 of most notable music charts for months now—even Christmas music couldn’t dethrone it. Lyrically, “greedy” describes the tension of knowing you’re a great catch, but probably a bad girlfriend. Musically, the song is an upbeat, rhythmic pop song that features McRae’s musical calling-card of happy, bright sounding music with darker, more biting lyrics. For said lyrics, click here (language).
Overcoming Unwanted Sexual Behavior
Modern society is built on pain avoidance. From a young age, whenever something painful or difficult happens, we learn to numb ourselves or find a coping mechanism. Anything from screen time, to shopping, to substance abuse, to pornography can become our anesthetic. Resisting these pain-avoidance crutches can get complicated. To really heal from our addictions, big and small, we have to address the pain that we were running from in the first place.
This week, we’re reposting our podcast conversation with Jay Stringer, a counselor, minister, and speaker dedicated to helping both men and women find freedom from sexual brokenness. In our conversation, Stringer unpacks how the sexual behaviors we wish we could stop engaging in typically come out of misguided attempts to meet legitimate, God-given desires. A longing for acceptance or a feeling of powerlessness can shape a person’s sexual desires without them even realizing it.
As Stringer puts it, “One evening of deliberate curiosity [about] your sexual fantasies will take you further into transformation than 1,000 nights of prayerful despair.” He believes that when someone takes the time to understand why they might be tempted by a particular type of porn or sexual activity, they often discover a road map to the deeper healing needed in their life.
A survey released in 2023 found that 73% of teens had viewed porn, and that this exposure was already shaping how they viewed sex and sexual relationships. What might start out as a natural curiosity about the human body can easily turn into a form of sexual brainwashing, and an ever-present method of avoiding reality. But the solution Stringer proposes is not behavior modification or hating ourselves into purity—rather, it’s a willingness to examine our own stories with kindness and curiosity, and a recognition that lust is often just a symptom of the unresolved issues that Jesus wants to heal. We serve a God who, after all, has been there; as Hebrews 4:15 puts it, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”
For the full conversation, check out this Wednesday’s episode of our Culture Translator podcast. In the meantime, here are three questions to help spark conversation with the teens in your life:
- In our culture, what do you think are the most common things people use to numb themselves to emotional pain?
- What would a healthy way of dealing with pain look like?
- What do you think happens to someone who always tries to avoid their pain instead of facing it directly?