1. Prime Ethics
What it is: An influencer-led TikTok campaign called “People Over Prime” encourages boycotting Amazon because of perceived employee abuses.
Why it’s worth taking note: Amazon Prime has become something of a staple utility for many US households, with somewhere around 150 million paying subscribers. It also happens to be the second-largest private employer in the US, according to the (Jeff Bezos-owned) Washington Post. For those of us who grew up before you could order something on-demand and have it delivered the next day, the pros of using Amazon may seem to outweigh potential cons. But for Gen Z consumers, there is no such novelty. Many young people see the distribution behemoth as an evil corporation, in no uncertain terms, and may view any type of support of the Bezos empire as a contradiction of ethics. Soured public sentiment against Amazon presents an opportunity to talk about family values as well as how we can support and love our hard-working neighbors in ways that are tangible, intentional, and long-lasting.
2. Sleepover Sentries
What it is: The New York Post reports on the growing #NoSleepovers movement amongst parents.
Why it’s stirring debate: The Post (and a host of internet commenters) wonder if families who ban sleepovers are an example of “helicopter parenting” gone too far. But dozens of parenting influencers on TikTok back up the practice, saying that having a policy of sleeping at home no matter what eliminates risk and takes kids out of situations where bullying and sexual abuse can happen. A commonly-offered compromise appears to be the “late-over,” where tweens and young adults are allowed to stay at a friend’s home past bedtime but is picked up by a parent before midnight. This particular issue may be so controversial because it is located at the intersection of two popular schools of thought when it comes to parenting: those who believe children should be as safe as possible, and those who think young adult children are old enough to exercise discretion when they’re out of their home environment. For adults who experienced trauma at a sleepover growing up, that lived experience will of course inform their parenting decisions. Whatever your family’s sleepover policy is, make sure the rules are clear and that lines of communication are open to discuss why you reached that particular conclusion.
3. Snap Savvy
What it is: SnapChat has released their first set of parental controls to give parents more visibility over how their kids use the app.
Why it’s an interesting new approach: SnapChat’s parent company, Snap, says that they are modeling their parental controls after how parent/child relationships have historically functioned offline. An in-app tool called Family Center will allow parents to view their child’s friend list and who they have spoken with recently, without disclosing the actual content of these interactions. Snap appears to have actually given parents input into the process of developing Family Center, which other tech companies have sometimes failed to do with their parental controls. Snap may have successfully created a workaround that keeps teens safer, or they may simply have reduced their liability when it comes to who has access to teens through the platform.
Song of the Week
“Staying Alive” by DJ Khaled, ft. Drake and Lil Baby: interpolating the Bee Gees’ chorus line for something much more sad-sounding, the song is basically about how money and power allow for noncommittal sexual experiences. Drake and Lil Baby’s hollow verses are mostly about passing a woman back and forth between them. Near the beginning of Drake’s bit, he says, “This life, it allowed me to take what I want / It’s not like I know what I want / It’s not like I know what I need.” In other words, while power and status allow him to indulge, he still has no sense of what he really wants/needs—which is hardly a recipe for flourishing. As of this writing, the song is at the #6 spot on Spotify and #5 on Billboard. For lyrics, click here.
Translation: Prime Ethics
In his book, The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis said this: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” In other words, every human being who has ever lived and who ever will live possesses an immortal soul, crafted by God and placed within us. But this isn’t how we view people most of the time, is it? When was the last time you thought of your waiter as a son of Heaven, or of the cashier at Target as a princess in the bloodline of the Most High King?
Though they may not be thinking in those terms, Gen Z cares about the ways people are impacted by the systems and structures under which we live our lives. Gen Z’s emphasis on caring for individuals and making sure everyone has a seat at the table, so to speak, reflects Lewis’ words regarding the impossibility of “ordinary people.” And when it comes to holding companies like Amazon accountable for how they treat their workers, it makes sense that an empathy- and human rights-forward generation would speak up and demand change.
One of Jesus’ key points throughout his ministry, and one of the linchpins of the Bible as a whole is loving our neighbors. It’s one of the two cords of true religion as defined by Jesus: “…‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” And when Jesus said “neighbor,” he didn’t just mean the neighbor you know, the person physically closest to you or someone whom you already like. The Greek word used in this verse is “πλησίον,” which translates both to “friend” and “fellow man.” In other words: everyone is your neighbor.
So although the workers at Amazon might feel invisible, and though having a package appear on our doorstep a day after we order it might feel like magic, remember there are immortal souls making those wheels turn. The hands that tape the boxes, load them onto trucks, and guide the steering wheels to your house belong to image-bearers of the infinite and all-powerful God of the universe. As you enter into conversation, do so with that most essential of all human attributes given to us by God: love for our neighbors.
Here are some questions to spark conversation with your teens:
- Do you think you have the ability to affect change in the world, even in small ways?
- What are some ways you try to care for the people around you? What are some ways you could do that better?
- How would your life be different if you make an effort to see people as loved by God?