1. Meet Your Match
What it is: A NYT op-ed argues for a return to more traditional forms of dating, like courtship, family set-ups, and even paid matchmakers.
Why it’s trending right now: More than a few recently published articles have pointed to dating app fatigue. For some, these apps seem to lead only to heartbreak, rejection, and frustration instead of lasting partnership. Reality TV shows (such as Indian Matchmaking and Married at First Sight) in addition to scripted hits (like Bridgerton) seem to be striking a nerve, reminding people who aren’t married that maybe meeting people in real life has some benefits. This op-ed writer says that set-ups orchestrated by a third-party add an element of accountability that swiping right just can’t replicate. Maybe your teens won’t be running to you for matchmaker money just yet, but it’s possible that the cultural tide will continue to turn back to real-life dating for the next generation.
2. Out of the Shallows
What it is: Arthur C. Brooks gives an overview of how using tech to communicate can make our interactions more shallow, and what we can do about it.
Why it matters for teens and their parents: We might feel like it’s teens who are the ones who won’t look up from their phones to connect in real life. But sometimes, it’s the adults in the room who are setting the precedent for screen time in a family. We should be careful not to be hypocritical about our own device use. Brooks points to a 2014 survey in which kids felt like their parents were too distracted by their smartphones to listen to them. It’s important to remember that the sample size was small, but the results were telling. Texting and messaging can flatten communication, taking out idiosyncrasies like tone and facial expression, and may also reduce the scope of what people will share with each other. Brooks concludes we should choose in-person interaction over digital interaction whenever possible, and create a hierarchy of people we talk to so that we don’t spread our social energies too thin.
3. Cyberpunk’s Revenge
What it is: When Cyberpunk 2077 was first released, it was so buggy that it was nearly unplayable. Two years later, a Netflix anime series called Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has brought strong sales to the game, at last.
Why it’s taking off: The anime series might be the best thing that could have happened to the patched and now-playable game. There are now one million players on the game per day, and special mods that are connected to Cyberpunk: Edgerunners are being uploaded by the dozens. Parents will want to know that the game wasn’t made for younger kids, and the anime show wasn’t, either; it’s violent and contains female cartoon nudity. Still, Edgerunners is trending in the top ten most-watched shows on Netflix, so gamers and anime fans alike are going to be talking about it for some time.
Song of the Week
“I Like You (A Happier Song)” by Post Malone ft. Doja Cat: at #3 on Billboard and #12 on Spotify, this song is about earnestly expressing affection for someone, who happens to already be taken. The song is unique in that Malone resists the urge to seem emotionally untouchable, saying, “Now that I’m famous, I got hoes all around me / But I need a good girl, I need someone to ground me.” But again, the “good girl” he’s targeting (played by Doja Cat) is being unfaithful in her current relationship—which brings up the question, what exactly does Malone mean by “a good girl”? Although some listeners may miss these dynamics by only paying attention to the chorus, click here (language) for the full lyrical experience.
Translation: Meet Your Match
If there’s one thing that’s true about Gen Z’s relationship with…well, relationships, it’s that they love a good romantic trope. #enemiestolovers, a mega-popular literary trope in which a couple starts out as nemeses before realizing they might just be made for each other, has over 4 billion videos on TikTok, with other romance-centric tags like #starcrossedlovers, #childhoodsweethearts, and #lovetriangle all scoring hundreds of millions of posts.
You’re a lot less likely to find teens romanticizing online dating. It may be the most practical way to meet someone in the age of dating apps, but it doesn’t exactly make for a great romantic comedy meet-cute.
The New York Times piece we mentioned above isn’t so much geared at teens as it is single people in their 20s and 30s—but dating, how to date, and who to date are still an important subject of conversation for you and your teen. Having a parent choose a nice young person for their child to ride off into the sunset with is not likely to be appealing at first, and may in fact sound to the average American teen like a worst-case scenario. But there are elements of a more traditional form of dating that call not only to Gen Z’s romantic soul, but to the design within all of us as humans placed there by a creator God. What if a romantic relationship drew you deeper into community? What if true love could be built on friendship? What if dating and marriage were about more than just two people and what they feel?
Romantic love is not what our culture says it is. It is neither disposable, nor ultimate. True love and romantic partnership are gifts given to us for the glory of God, to show His face to the world and, above all, to praise His name. Humans are fickle, selfish, jealous, and broken. Our love cannot help but be all those things as well. But the love of God is perfect, pure, and holy. That has to be the love we lean on in our relationships—on the apps or on a double date set up by mutual friends.
Questions to spark conversation with your teens:
- If you could write your perfect love story, what would it look like?
- Do you think it’s better to meet people in person or online, and why?
- What do you think is the purpose of romance?