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I, System

Posted by Axis on August 04, 2021

3 THINGS THIS WEEK

1. I, System 

What it is: TikTok influencers with a diagnosis called “Dissociative Identity Disorder” have been accumulating millions of followers as they post videos of their mental health symptoms. 

Why it’s controversial: Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, the history of dissociative identity disorder is complicated, and the psychiatric community is divided on treatment strategies as well as whether or not there is an element of social contagion to it. When you watch a post from someone in the #didtok or #didsystem community, you’ll often see several personalities interacting with one another. These personalities all appear to share one body (also called a “host”), but take on different characteristics after a “switch.” One personality (called an “alt” or “alter”) may present with a feminine voice and mannerisms, the next may appear to be traditionally masculine, while another personality may struggle with social interactions and be extremely introverted, and so on. People with this condition sometimes identify themselves as a “system.” Teens viewing #didtok content may have an exaggerated view of how prevalent these symptoms are, how many people are affected, what it’s like to live with, and whether it’s something they themselves are likely to experience. 

2. Now That’s What I Call ‘Stalgia!

What it is: NBC News reports that Gen Z’s obsession with all things Y2K is propelling a “thrifting explosion.” 

Why it’s not going away: Midriff-baring tees made famous by Britney Spears and iconic, couture sweatsuits sported by Paris Hilton abound on reseller sites like Depop and Poshmark, and buying these items used makes it easier for young people to afford higher quality. Beaded necklaces, babydoll tops, and low-rise jeans may also be harder to find in fast fashion retail outlets like Forever 21. By buying clothes from the early aughts and deeming them “vintage,” young consumers are feeding into their excitement for fashion while also being more mindful of consumption and, from their perspective, combating environmental waste. 

3. What We Behold

What it is: A book review in Christian Century notes that if worship is a form of attention, it would seem like many of us are worshiping our phones. 

Why it’s a hopeful reminder: The amount of time many of us spend on screens may feel like a crisis in and of itself. It can feel annoying to live in a house where our loved ones are staring 24/7 at a glinting dopamine pump, and even more irritating when we ourselves are the ones who cannot seem to stop engaging in these same behaviors. Rather than give in to helplessness, writer Katherine Willis Pershey encourages us to pay attention to where we are paying attention as a first step of resisting the temptation to give our hours up to screen time. Only when we understand what we are doing with our time can we hold on to what it means to really be in the presence of God in the present moments of each day. 

Slang of the Week: 

Kyle: the male version of a “Karen,” a Kyle is a middle aged White male who treats customer service and waiters poorly and/or generally behaves in ways seen as aggressively privileged. The names “Ken” and “Kevin” can be used in a similar way. (Ex: “Calm down there, Kyle, no need to call the police.”) 

(Thanks to a reader in Ohio for this submission! Any slang words or phrases you’re hearing lately? Let us know here and we’ll spread the word.)

Exit, Stage Tokyo 

This week, four-time olympic gold medalist Simone Biles decided to withdraw from the team competition at the Tokyo Olympics, citing her mental health and saying she did not want to hurt herself or put her teammates’ medal dreams at risk by continuing to compete. Many celebrities and teammates expressed their support, saying how proud they were of her for recognizing her limits. Many others expressed criticism, calling her “selfish,” and “a shame to the country.” How should Christians think about this issue? 

Of course, if we thought all we had to look forward to was worldly acclaim, or the exaltation of one nation above others, it makes sense that a decision like Biles’ should only anger and discourage us. But as Christians, our allegiance is primarily to the transnational Kingdom of God, not to the United States or any other earthly nation. We go into strict training “to get a crown that will last forever,” not one that only lasts temporarily. 

Still, the support or criticism of Biles’ decision will likely be split along generational lines. Gen Zers tend to be much more mental-health conscious, prioritizing self-care, while Gen Xers and Baby Boomers tend to value pushing through personal suffering for the sake of completing the task at hand. The fact that we’re actually having conversations about mental health now is a new and important step, although both sides still have important perspectives to offer. And yet regardless of whatever disposition comes naturally, scripture tells us that we have value because we are made in the image of God, not because of our own (athletic) prowess. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” He calls himself “gentle and humble in heart,” and He invites us to become more like Him

Most of the commentary on Biles’ decision has come from people who have never been gymnasts, never experienced the “twisties,” and never competed in the Olympics. And yet the conversation can be an opportunity to discuss ultimate priorities. Here are some questions we hope might spark such conversation with your teens:

  • Do you think Simone Biles made the right decision not to participate?
  • When should we take a break to take care of ourselves and when should we push through?
  • Do you think competitions like the Olympics have spiritual value? Why or why not? 

Keep the Faith!

- The Axis Team

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