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1. Duped

What it is: Products that are “dupes”—less costly alternatives to brand name options—are taking over TikTok and Instagram.
Why it’s becoming so widespread: Originally, “dupes” were used in the consumer context to refer to cosmetics. A beauty consumer might be on a quest for a drugstore dupe of a MAC foundation or a Dior lipstick. But the term has migrated to social media and become a staple of the influencer vocabulary. Finding a bodysuit on Amazon and calling it a “Skims dupe” or subbing out a Target curling iron for a Dyson Airwrap are two examples of what some might call “dupe culture”—finding ways to replicate a luxury product or lifestyle at a more affordable price point. Google search results for “dupe” approached a new peak in January 2023, and the hashtag reached 1.6 billion views on TikTok. It’s possible this trend represents an underlying economic anxiety as inflation and a possible recession loom large in the mind of American consumers.

2. We’ve Lost the Plot

What it is: An article in the Atlantic questions if the line between entertainment and real life has become blurred beyond recognition, suggesting that we already live in a sort of socially-conditioned metaverse.
Why it’s concerning: Media critics have long proposed that when television became a mainstay in middle-class households, the concept of passive entertainment began to really take hold in our culture. Some decades later, our streaming habits engineer a life where at any given moment, we expect to be, at the very least, mildly entertained. Social media posts that frame our lives as themselves an entertainment product make the distinction between what’s real and what’s contrived even harder to discern. But there’s nothing wrong with appreciating mundane moments over forever chasing what is novel; in fact, one could argue that a healthy spiritual life demands it.

3. The Hangout House

What it is: A parent went viral on TikTok for sharing his tips for making his house the house where his teenagers and their friends want to spend time together.
Why it’s worth thinking about: The father in this post said that his house didn’t accidentally become the preferred hangout house. He and his wife intentionally put out the welcome mat for their kids’ friends. Their strategy included setting up activities in the basement and taking snack requests. This way, they reasoned, they would get to know the people their kids were hanging out with. Not everyone is able to stock up on extra groceries for other people’s kids or keep a basketball hoop in their driveway. But being intentionally hospitable to our teens’ friends doesn’t have to be expensive or dominate all of our extra space. Sometimes it’s just a matter of setting aside some time to think through what would make our house a more hangout-friendly environment.

Song of the Week

“Last Night” by Morgan Wallen: reaching #2 on Apple’s Top 100: USA chart, this song from country artist Morgan Wallen is about getting drunk and finally being honest about all the problems a relationship has, while still wanting to make things work. The song is an advance single from Wallen’s upcoming album One Thing At a Time, set to release on March 3, 2023. For the lyrics, click here (language).

Translation: We’ve Lost the Plot

The first day of 2019 brought with it a revolution. On January 1 of that year, Netflix released Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. The reality series stars the eponymous Marie Kondo, a diminutive woman bound and determined to help people bring organization to their lives with a simple phrase: “Does it spark joy?” People loved the idea of decluttering as an exercise in their own entertainment. But in real life, it doesn’t tend to play out with as much amusement. As Twitter user @kortneyblank put it: “Getting out of bed does not spark joy.” Suddenly, we were all part of the show.

As the Atlantic article points out, there is something dystopian about the way our culture has melded the concept of entertainment with day-to-day life. We have shifted outside of ourselves and become, in a way, voyeurs of our own lives. Even some of the slang terms young people use confirm this idea. “Main character energy” or a TikTok trend in which teens described a friend as a “guest star,” or referred to boring days as “filler episodes” capture the ennui of our society. We try to make sense of it by framing it as entertainment. A life with a plot, with character arcs, with events from which significance can be uncovered is enticing in a world where it sometimes seems there is very little meaning to cling to.

But as Christians, we know the things we do matter. We don’t have to superimpose a framework onto our days. The plot is real. Everything has significance—every meal we eat, every night we sleep, every conversation we have. We are released from the pressure to live our lives like a performance, trying to carve significance out of things we don’t understand. Instead we can rest in the knowledge that God is an author, there is a greater story, and we all have supporting roles to play in it.

Questions to spark conversation with your teens:

  • Do you ever do something just because it’s entertaining? If so, what?
  • Do you think boredom could ever be a good thing?
  • When do you feel like your actions are the most authentic?