Vol. 4 Issue 41 | October 12, 2018

Three Things This Week

1. Environmental Apocalypse?

What it is: The United Nations released a disturbing scientific report forecasting a global climate crisis by 2040 if extreme environmental changes are not implemented.

Why it’s our duty: If true, our children and grandchildren will inherit an earth drastically harmed by drought, rising sea levels, and food shortages. Regardless of your take on the report, as Christians, the theology driving our ecological involvement is centered in the belief that God made a very good world and He’s asked us to take care of it with Him. Therefore, caring for the environment isn’t optional for Christians, it’s a part of our vocation as God’s image bearers. Here’re 28 practical ways your family can steward God’s good creation in daily life.

2. World Mental Health Day

What it is: October 10th was World Mental Health Day. This year was specifically focused on the mental health of young people in a changing world.

Why it’s necessary: Mental health has long been fighting a stigma of being a personal failure and a burden to be dealt with alone. While mental health awareness has made big strides in recent years, most cases still go undiagnosed in young people. This leads to statistics such as depression being the third leading cause of disease in adolescents and suicide being the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds. By continuing to have conversations about the importance of mental health and reminding teens that there is no shame in seeking treatment, we can help further the reversal of the negative trends that poor mental health can have on our youth and their futures. To get started check out our Parent’s Guide to Depression and Anxiety.

3. The Issue Is Not Unanswered Questions

What it is: The issue is unquestioned answers. This is a phrase that we’ve used at Axis for ten years. We use it to uncover the deeper cultural issues facing us.

Why it’s still important: In her article (note: crude language and divisive politics), this author makes a good point — regardless of her conclusion. She states, “Every generation is a slop-sink of prejudices, norms, and ideologies, and since we humans are more sponge-like than rock-like, we naturally absorb our share of generational sludge.” A perfect description of unquestioned answers. It’s the stuff that we absorb from the culture around us that we don’t even think about. That just becomes normal. There are plenty of questions that we don’t have the answers to and maybe never will. But if we take the time to step back and truly examine the answers that we’ve already been given, then we can decide if they are good and correct answers. Only then can we work to change them. We can accept that “boys will be boys” or we can choose to raise our young men to be the kind of humans that don’t take advantage of others. We can accept technology’s answers that humanity’s worst impulses are valid search results, or we can question the biases and stereotypes that surround us. We live in culture, there’s no escaping that fact. And we will be given answers. What we do with them is up to us.

Top 10 Songs

Last week we referenced Twenty One Pilots new album Trench, which was arguably the most anticipated album of 2018. And so far, it hasn’t disappointed. The group continues to create new music with subtle, if not subversive Christian messages for those with ears to hear. Unfortunately, the rest of pop music continues to produce the same old same old. Here’s this week’s Billboard top 10. (Assume that most or all of the songs below have some kind of offensive language or crude references)

  1. Girls Like You” by Maroon 5 (Featuring Cardi B)
  2. Mona Lisa” by Lil Wayne (Featuring Kendrick Lamar)
  3. Lucid Dreams” by Juice WRLD
  4. Better Now” by Post Malone
  5. Don’t Cry” by Lil Wayne (Featuring XXXtentacion)
  6. Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott
  7. Uproar” by Lil Wayne
  8. Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  9. In My Feelings” by Drake
  10. Let It Fly” by Lil Wayne (Featuring Travis Scott)

11 PREMIUM INSIGHTS

A broader look at the world that teens inhabit.
Skim our summary or click the links to read more.
Engage your teens in conversation about their world.

They said it best:

1. “But I do sometimes think about all the money and time I spent on her education and, you know, carefully selecting her lessons and activities, all so that she could just become… famous for being famous. And that’s a job? It all seems so random.”

Christina Ford the mother of an overnight Instagram-famous influencer musing on her role and decisions in allowing her daughter to be what she is today. Aspiring to be internet famous is a real dream of many teens. Sometimes the opportunity to become Insta-famous is random, a single viral post that a savvy teen could build upon. How would you respond? How would you help your teen weigh the possible benefits (cash, free products, a large following) with downsides (lost education opportunities, the perils of fame, no lifelong skills gained)?

Technology

Apps/Websites

2. Instagram, in an attempt to better moderate undesirable behavior on its platform, has rolled out a new AI program that aims toidentify and flag bullying in both pictures and captions. Flagged posts will then be reviewed by a human team. In addition, they also have a new initiative to encourage kindness on the platform. Do your teens see or experience bullying on Instagram? What do they do about it? How do they respond?

3. The Internet Archive recently announced that they had fixed 6 million broken links themselves on Wikipedia that now point to their archive, The Wayback Machine. Link rot, the problem of links pointing to nowhere, is a universal problem of the web. The Internet Archive also thinks it has the potential to undermine the record of human knowledge. The ability to cheaply and easily update information on the internet is one of its key features, but do your teens think that the ephemerality of this information presents any dangers to our understanding of the past or even our present? As the saying goes, “History is written by the victors.” Do your teens think that the internet as it is today would enable the victors to rewrite history or would it help prevent it? Why?

Work

4. Here’s an interesting question for teens about employee and corporate responsibility. As your teens enter the workforce and begin creating products, new technologies, etc., where does the responsibility lie in making sure that whatever is created is not used for evil? Current tech employees, who are only building parts and pieces of larger technological structures, are starting to ask their parent companies how those technologies are being used. Are they being used for war or censorship? Some employees do not want to be a part of those things. What do your teens think? Is it their responsibility to ask what their work is being used for?

5. Another interesting work question concerns automation. If automation does end up taking over a lot of jobs, it will be teens that see a lot of those effects. But what if your teens were clever enough to automate their own jobs? Should they still be paid for the work? Should their employer reap the benefits of their ideas, should they themselves benefit, or should it be shared with the whole world? Who would be compensated in those cases? Is there a moral component to the question?

Pop Culture

Film/TV/Streaming

6. Venom, as we mentioned last week, got fairly universal negative reviews. However, it set a record for October opening weekends. Why? Teenage boys. They made up the majority of the film’s audience. Did your teens see it? What did they like about it? Why do they find the superhero/anti-hero genre so compelling, even when most professional movie-goers say that it isn’t very well made?

Music

7. Taylor Swift, never one to let the spotlight leave her for too long, has thrust herself front and center again by finally breaking her long history of being apolitical. She publicly supported two candidates on Instagram. She has been chided for abstaining from politics for quite some time, though finally taking a stand now hasn’t necessarily brought her any relief. At the very least, it’s possible that she did help contribute to some voter registrations among 18-29 year-olds.

Sexuality/Gender

8. As if teens didn’t already have a confusing enough cultural landscape to navigate in regards to wholesome and true human sexuality, new terms and ideas keep getting added everyday. One of the latest is demisexuality. It means not being sexually attracted to someone unless you have a strong emotional connection with them first. It’s another way to “identify” in regards to your sexuality. Perhaps the best questions for teens to wrestle with is why they think sexuality and identity have become so intertwined and where a better place to find our identity would be.

Teen Culture

Postive Things

9. There’s a new font available that is supposed to be scientifically designed to be just the right amount of “difficult to read”. By forcing you to have to concentrate harder on reading, it is supposed to help you remember what you read better. Could be nice for study notes.

Negative Things

10 .There’s also a new font that helps students stretch their page number count on essays while still looking like an approved font.

Tip of the Week

11. What if life didn’t have to be crazy? What if it really was possible to slow down and focus on the things that really mattered to us. At least in the workplace, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson argue that not only is it possible but it’s necessary. By skipping the hard-driving working style that Americans especially have adopted, they argue that we will all be better off in the long run. Their book is intended for businesses, but some of the ideas can apply to our personal lives as well. What would it look like to set and encourage boundaries that force us to spend time with our families or pursue hobbies and interests that give us life? What would it look like to slow down and not live at such a relentless pace? It would definitely take a change in mindset. However, just buying a special watch will not magically make that change for you.

 

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

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