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1. Forever Young

What it is: An extremely realistic filter called “Teenage Look” gives adults the appearance of teenagers on TikTok.
Why it’s making adults emotional: This trend, which has over 440 million views, shows an adult preparing to confront the filter-generated, de-aged version of their face while a song in the background (typically Alphaville’s version of “Forever Young” or “The Freshman” by the Verve Pipe) ups the emotional ante. Once their “Teenage Look” comes into view, many dissolve into tears, saying they wish they could go back in time to give advice to their teen selves or let them know how life was going to turn out. Participants express feeling a sudden compassion or empathy for who they were when they were younger. While we might not be able to go back in time and show kindness to our past selves, we can offer that kindness to the teens in our own lives as we remember that their journey is just beginning.

2. ClutterCore

What it is: A cluttered aesthetic may be winning out over carefully curated and sparse homes when it comes to teens showing their spaces on social media.
Why it’s happening: The pressure to present a perfectly-decorated and well-ordered room was ever-present on social media posts of the past. But young people are realizing that maintaining this type of space all the time may not be realistic, and are posting under #messyroom and #messyroomcheck to demonstrate what their lives actually look like. Sometimes posters use these posts as an accountability tool, posting the messy “before” to motivate themselves to create a better-maintained “after.” But for some teens, a space littered with cast-off clothes, brand name sneakers, and expensive toiletries carries the enviable essence of too-cool-to-care.

3. One Conversation With Mike Su

What it is: In the newest episode of our One Conversation podcast, product and digital media executive Mike Su gives us some insight into how products like Snapchat are developed and designed.
Why it’s enlightening: According to Su, who worked for Snapchat’s parent company for five years, social media product designers really do give a lot of thought into what they put out in the world, particularly when it comes to how they are influencing and shaping human behavior. Su provides a Christian perspective on how to process our understanding of and interactions with social media. He gives advice on how to talk with teens about what social media has to offer, commenting on both the shallow aspects of online feedback and the more meaningful connections that these apps can foster. The hope, he says, is that teens will understand how to curate real relationships that enrich their lives and prioritize those over the quick hits of validation that come through a screen. Listen here, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Slang of the Week

Rip Bozo: a phrase used when someone you don’t like or don’t care about either dies or leaves, often paired with this gif of NBA commentator James Worthy smoking a cigar. Also often used in Twitch chat when a chatter gets banned. (Ex: “tarik banned xQcislife.” Chat: “RIPBOZO.”)

Translation: Forever Young

“You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.”

There’s a lot we could unpack about this passage. We could talk about what it means to “follow the ways of your heart” while still knowing that “God will bring you into judgment.” We could talk about the difficulty of “banishing anxiety from your heart,” especially for Gen Z. But more than anything, this passage (found at the end of Ecclesiastes 11) reads like someone coming to grips with how old they are and how much time has gone by. In many ways, the speaker is not who they used to be; the things that seemed to matter so much when they were younger don’t matter much anymore.

It’s nostalgic. It’s bittersweet. And perhaps more than anything, it’s an invitation to help the next generation live a better life because of our own experiences.

The word translated as “meaningless” at the end of this passage is the Hebrew word “heḇel,” which literally refers to vapor, or smoke. This is something you can see, but can’t seize; youth and vigor, like smoke, are gone before we realize. Although the Teenage Look filter may have a bigger emotional impact on adults than teenagers, the importance of thinking back to the lives we used to live can unlock tools to better serve the next generation.

Instead of discussion, this week we’re giving you three reflection questions:

  • If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?
  • If you could say something to help your younger self prepare for the life ahead of them, what would you say?
  • Now, even though you can’t actually say these things to your younger self, what could you say to your teen that might help them to live life as wisely as they can?