1. Looking Like a Snack
What it is: Loaded snack plates dubbed “girl dinner” are being posted on TikTok and Instagram.
Why it’s trending: These photogenic assortments can range from elaborate (and expensive) charcuterie boards to refrigerator staples and pantry finds like grapes and potato chips. The working definition of a “girl dinner” is that it’s meant for just one person and requires no planning or thinking ahead. In most posts, “girl dinner” is loaded up with small servings of healthy-ish favorites, like hummus with baby carrots or seeded crackers. The meal is meant to feel indulgent, carefree, and tailored to the tastes of the girl (or guy) who has prepared it. It’s the kind of thing that can be equally enjoyed poolside or from the couch, and the anything-goes aspect appeals to teens soaking up the freedom of long summer days.
Start the conversation: What would be on your ideal snack plate?
What it is: A survey from the makers of mobile game Candy Crush indicates that younger people are embarrassed to use their index fingers to scroll on their phones.
Why it’s happening: If you try picking up your mobile device and watch your teen do the same, you might notice that your hand takes up an entirely different posture than theirs as you prepare to send a text. In addition to marked differences in emoji use and texting punctuation, Gen Z apparently has another wrinkle in their digital etiquette: they prefer thumb-scrolling. Four in 10 Gen Z members surveyed said that scrolling with their index finger was something they associated with Baby Boomers, and that they consciously avoid it. Popular memes pointing out how much older people love to “point and scroll” have contributed to this index finger stigma. (For more about Gen Z’s unique cultural context, check out our Parent’s Guide to Gen Z.)
Start the conversation: Have you ever noticed who scrolls with their thumb and who scrolls with their index finger? Why do you think it’s different across generations?
3. Main Events
What it is: The phrase “canon event” was popularized by the “Spiderman: Across the Spider Verse” movie, but has since caught on as part of the vernacular.
What it means: A canon event is something that happens in your life and defines the way you perceive the world afterwards. This term has long been established as a way of talking about characters from comics or science fiction. For example, no matter how you tell the origin story, Spider-Man’s “canon events” include the loss of a parental figure followed by a feeling of great responsibility. For today’s teens, the idea of a “canon event” jives perfectly with the concept of experiencing one’s own life as a kind of media in which you are the star. (Other phrases, like “main character energy” and entering your “villain era” also contribute to this way of perceiving life). When Gen Z talks about canon events, they are often referring to something that’s embarrassing, tragic, traumatizing, or bizarre. It’s a moment that you might replay over and over afterwards, experiencing it from different angles.
Start the conversation: What would be some of the canon events that have happened in your life so far?
Song of the Week
“I Can See You (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” by Taylor Swift: reaching as high as #2 on Spotify and #5 on Apple Music, this song about a discreet workplace romance is the most popular song so far from Swift’s newly re-recorded album “Speak Now.” The song actually wasn’t included on the original “Speak Now” tracklist (hence it being “from the vault”), and fans have enjoyed speculating about who the song was originally written about. Lots of people think it was Taylor Lautner. For the song’s lyrics, click here.
Rhiannon Jones, a consultant who studies social trends and uses them to predict the future, makes an attempt to explain why different generations scroll using different fingers. Jones refers to the “social and cultural content” in which each generation grew up, telling the New York Post that, “Technological progress, in particular, often occurs rapidly, leading to vast generational differences in technological literacy. As a result, younger generations, digital natives who have grown up in a world of global connectivity and tech-integrated living, lean towards a more intuitive scrolling style based on the size of their handheld devices and a passive scrolling attitude.”
It definitely sounds like Jones is saying that scrolling with your thumb is right, and scrolling with your index finger is wrong. But we’ll let you be the judge of that.
Christians often refer to the passage in Isaiah 43 where God says, “See, I am doing a new thing!” to foster hope and encouragement for the world. And part of God doing new things involves bringing forth new generations, who adapt to the world in new and different ways. That might mean scrolling with thumbs over fingers, preferring “girl dinners” over buffet meals, or even… Threads over Twitter.
The concept of the “canon event,” though, opens up much deeper questions about how much of our lives we really get to choose, anyway. When Miles Morales travels to a universe full of other Spider-People in “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” he learns that each of these others is destined for a series of canon events, including the loss of a parental figure. Applying this concept to our own lives, as some are now doing on TikTok, could be an opening into another deep theological discussion: are my choices and circumstances predestined, or am I choosing them freely?
Christians have been wrestling with this question for ages. Psalm 139 includes the line, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”—but even more so, the psalm conveys the loving intentionality of our Creator, who brings each human to life for particular purposes. There is love and deep mystery on display here, and God’s purposes for humanity are always bigger than what any individual generation can accomplish. In the final analysis, life is a relay race, not a marathon.
Here are some questions to spark conversation with your teens about these topics:
- What other generational differences have you noticed, besides scrolling with thumbs versus index fingers?
- Do you think God’s purpose changes with new generations, or does it stay the same?
- Do you think the concept of the canon event is the same as the concept of predestination? Why or why not?