Three Things This Week
1. Thanks for the Tip
What it is: A waitress posted a TikTok that she claims is a good illustration of the difference between serving Gen Z and serving older patrons.
Why it’s an opportunity in disguise: Leaving a restaurant table with neatly stacked dishes and the trash cleared off (as the Gen Z’ers did) versus leaving it overflowing with a scattered mess (as the older patrons did) might not be deeply indicative of the generational divide. After all, it’s just two tables. But it’s interesting to think about who older generations feel are deserving and worthy of respect as compared to who Gen Z gives respect to. (Remember last year’s “Karen” panic, which basically devolved into a frenzied media narrative about how older white women are always waiting in the wings to abuse service workers?) We can break the stereotype of the callous Gen X or Boomer patron by having intentional conversations with our kids about the dignity of all kinds of work, and how best to dignify the people in our lives who serve us.
2. The Numbers Are In
What it is: A new survey compiled by Gallup estimates that 18 percent (one in six) people between the ages of 18 and 23 identify as LGBTQ+.
Why it’s making everyone mad: Of the 15,000 people who participated in Gallup’s survey, 5.6 percent overall said they didn’t identify as straight. That’s up from 4.5 percent in 2017. 72 percent of the Gen Z survey participants who identify as LGBTQ+ also say that they experience bisexual attraction—so they aren’t exclusively saying they identify as gay or lesbian. Even the Gallup pollers wondered, in their conclusion, whether the uptick in LGBTQ+ identification was the result of a true organic increase in that population, or simply reflected a society more comfortable with these identities (even if same-sex attraction has always been just as prevalent). Either way, if our teens are growing up in a world where one in six of their friends openly identifies as LGBTQ+, it should be no surprise when their attitudes on issues of sexuality and gender are significantly less traditional.
3. The Loneliness Pandemic
What it is: The Wall Street Journal reports (account required) that college-aged students and young mothers are experiencing higher rates of loneliness and social depletion as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 61 percent of people 18 to 23 described themselves as feeling “serious loneliness."
Why it compounds what teens already feel: As the source interviewed in this piece points out, the late teens and early twenties can already be a vulnerable time of life (as can early motherhood, as many of you reading this might know). Because people in late adolescence spend so much time figuring themselves out, being cut off from peers and feeling like normal life can’t go on can be especially draining. Some teens are already highly prone to feelings of loneliness and alienation without a pandemic compounding it. How do we fight this loneliness? While we may not be able to fully replace the role peers play as our teens reach the cusp of adulthood, we can still initiate meaningful conversations and offer opportunities for deeper connection, even if only for a few moments each day.
Slang of the Week
ship: to desire that two people who aren't in a romantic relationship start one; often applied to fictional characters. (Ex: “I'm really shipping Archie and Betty right now, even though Jughead and Betty are still a fav.")
Are You Raising a Sin Concealer or a Sin Confessor?
John Baker, the founder of Celebrate Recovery, recently passed away. His unique vision for combining the hope of the gospel with the rigor of AA’s 12-step program helped thousands of Christians find help for “hurts, hangups and habits.” Environments like this that encourage Christians to live in the light are glorious and necessary; as Paul writes in Ephesians 5:12-13, “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light."
We were talking with a mom a few months ago about how to put restrictions on her daughter’s smartphone when we heard the daughter quip, “The stricter the parent, the sneakier the child.” For a while afterward, we presented this maxim to other parents, asking whether they thought anything had been left out of it. Eventually, a man proposed that the real issue was this: “Are you raising a sin concealer or a sin confessor?” In other words, are we creating environments where teens feel like it’s good and safe to be honest about sins and shortcomings, or environments that prize looking publicly put together over everything else, and which make sneaking around seem like the better option?
The recent scandals at RZIM remind us that as the body of Christ, we need places that make it safe to be honest and vulnerable—one reason being that sin tends to grow in the dark. This is doubly relevant for teens today whose disillusionment with the church needs to be met with authenticity, and who (like all of us) need to see spiritual health modeled. Unless our teens see us modeling behaviors like the confession of sin, it won’t be part of their paradigm either.
Toward that end, here are a few questions for discussion or reflection:
- Do you have anyone you feel like you can be completely honest with?
- What makes someone a safe person to share deep things with?
- How should we respond when others are vulnerable with us?
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
PS: This week in Culture Translator Premium, we also talked about how Gen Z uses social media, Disney+ trigger warnings, Gorilla Glue Girl’s new body positivity movement, and much more. Check it out with an Axis Membership!