1. Wilbur’s Force
What it is: British indie band Lovejoy has been slowly but surely establishing a firm place in Gen Z’s sonic landscape, with their newest single “Call Me What You Like” (language) climbing the charts.
Why the lead singer looks familiar: Lovejoy was founded by Will Gold, also known as the Twitch streamer Wilbur Soot. Gold established his following as part of the survival multiplayer (SMP) team for the ultra-successful Minecraft YouTuber Dream. Like many other streamers, Gold makes his money from a combination of paid subscriptions to his Twitch channel and an online store of branded merchandise. Gold apparently has an affinity for bygone tech trends; Lovejoy’s new EP will have a cassette (you read that right) release, and Gold’s personal homepage is a site designed to look like a Windows 96 interface. Gold’s career reads as a textbook example of a certain kind of internet fame. For this type of celebrity, once you’ve cultivated a following in one form of media, crossing over into some other type of art form can seem, from the outside looking in, effortless. These young people are professional performers; what they’re playing at becomes less important than the fact that they are, at all times, able to bring their followers along for the ride.
What it is: Emma Camp writes in an op-ed for the New York Times about the “aestheticization” of neurodivergence.
Why it’s not what you might expect: Like many young women, Camp’s autism went undiagnosed until later in life. She received her formal evaluation, and subsequent diagnosis, when she was twenty years old. And at first, she felt relieved. But over time, she says, she has grown more ambivalent about being autistic. Camp uses her experience to cite the way that autism, ADHD, and OCD have been commodified—almost as if having this type of neurodivergence is simply a collection of personality quirks and symptoms that can be resolved by cutesy accommodations. #ActuallyAutistic has 5.3 billion TikTok views, and #AutismTok has 133.6 million; many of the videos in these hashtags include tips from a non-expert for self-diagnosis, or lists of possible signs of neurodivergence. Colorful noise-canceling headphones, sparkly fidget spinners, and rainbow pop-its have been integrated into a wellness industry that aims to sell teens on an adorable cure for every self-diagnosed malady. Camp even argues that there is now a certain degree of social capital bestowed upon the neurodivergent. People who live with neurological and sensory processing disorders may find the idea that neurodivergence is now “trendy” baffling if not outright insulting.
3. Repair, Reparent, Repeat
What it is: The Atlantic spoke to several psychologists about breaking negative parenting cycles.
Why it’s hopeful: A phenomenon called “intergenerational transmission” refers to the way that certain parenting traits seem to pass from one generation to the next. If you grew up with parents who displayed traits like warmth and acceptance, for example, you may convey those same traits to your own children without much effort. On the other hand, abuse and neglect have a dark and cyclical power that can be hard to escape. Sources encouraged parents to draw from a vast well of parenting strategies, getting intentional and reflective about what they want to retain from their own childhoods. As Christians, it’s helpful to remember that we are heirs to Christ’s legacy: one of forgiveness, redemption, and the power, through Him, to break the curses that can break families apart.
Slang of the Week
DonoWall: A term, often used in Twitch chat, for when someone donates to a streamer and the streamer doesn’t respond to the message in the donation, or the “dono.” The term is often accompanied by this gif of someone talking to a wall. (Ex: Donation: “Thanks for all the streams. They’ve really helped me through my breakup with my girlfriend.” Streamer: “…” Chat: “DonoWall”)
In her op-ed, Camp starts out by talking about how her diagnosis of autism helped her make sense of her life. She writes, “After my costly evaluation, I was relieved. Knowing I had autism gave me the permission I needed to accept my quirks and insecurities.”
But that relief turned into something else. She goes on to say, “The social approval that followed was addicting. The more I talked about autism, it seemed, the more opportunities I got, whether it was grad school essay material or a side gig serving as a consultant on a study. The diagnosis had crystallized into a central part of my self-concept. I didn’t just have autism. I was autistic.”
Although she is concerned that the “aestheticization” of mental health issues could cause our culture to take these issues less seriously, she ultimately wants to encourage individuals to define themselves more by the choices they make than by the circumstances of their birth. She writes, “Mental health diagnoses, along with most other categories up for examination under our identity politics, are accidents of birth. To make them central features of our identities is to focus on the things we can’t control ourselves—an approach that is ultimately disempowering.” Although Christians may disagree that anything about someone’s birth should be called an “accident,” the idea that what we do with the life we’re given matters most resonates with the biblical concept of stewardship.
Neurodivergence is a real phenomenon and it impacts many people’s lives every day—but not every way of talking about it is equally helpful. Here are some questions to spark conversation about this with your teens:
- Do you think how we were born says more about who we are than the choices we make? Why or why not?
- Have you seen examples of social approval coming from mental health diagnoses? If so, where?
- Have you ever wondered if you had a mental health disorder, or another type of disorder? If so, why?