Three Things This Week
1. The TikTok Top 100 Is Weird
What it is: TikTok released a list of its “Top 100” videos for 2020, and some of the top ranking videos may surprise you (or leave you hopelessly confused).
Why it’s the TikTok-est thing ever: If TikTok was orange juice, this list would be frozen concentrate. Like everything else out of the TikTok newsroom, the degree to which this list was “curated” and how much of it is an actual ranking is opaque. Still, there’s insight to be gleaned from what the TikTok team chose to showcase in their definitive list of the year’s biggest videos, trends, and creators. A lip sync full of funny expressions from @bellapoarch ranks above the viral Fleetwood Mac tribute that earned @420doggface208 a brand new truck, Charli D’Amelio ranks number one in “Top Creators,” and #PlantTok (houseplants) and #DracoTok (Harry Potter fans) are cited for thriving communities. It’s all as random, bizarre, and addicting as your teen’s For You page.
2. The Dark(er) Side of Pornhub
What it is: Pornhub came under fire this week after The New York Times exposed lax policies that allow revenge porn and and child pornography to thrive on the site.
Why it’s worse than anyone thought: A site called “Pornhub” wouldn’t call to mind wholesome family entertainment. But the Times showed that the company, which may be the 10th most visited site in the world, has poor content filtering policies that appear to willfully enable pedophiles and ruin children’s lives. A young woman whose image has been circulating on the site without her consent since she was nine years old says, “Pornhub became my trafficker,” and the column has several other stories of young people whose hope for the future was stolen after videos of them as minors were put on the site. In response to the backlash from this piece, Pornhub has banned downloads of its material as well as uploads from unverified users.
3. Poison in the Microphone
What it is: The pastor of Hillsong NYC (and spiritual advisor to the stars), Carl Lentz, was ousted from his position last month after revelations of infidelity. Christianity Today wonders if something about “celebrity pastor culture” creates environments where breaches of trust are inevitable.
Why it’s more than a coastal megachurch problem: At Hillsong NYC, the line between veneration and honor for leadership was routinely blurred. We’re hopeful that this recurring issue will be addressed. But as we’ve seen over the past few years, plenty of evangelical churches seem to reward big personalities in leadership and are resistant to systems that call for accountability. A servant’s heart is the essence of Christ-centered leadership, no matter a church’s size or a pastor’s Instagram following. Rather than pointing at the “scandal” that unfolded as if we are immune, there’s an opportunity here to examine how leadership functions in our own homes and churches, and to consider if we are encouraging humility or becoming a breeding ground for vanity.
Spotlight: This time of year is always a critical fundraising season for non-profit organizations. But more than just a year-end gift, we’d love to ask you to thoughtfully consider joining the Axis Legacy Club with a monthly gift. By partnering with us on a monthly basis, you are empowering exponentially bigger goals for engaging parents and their teens. Click here to make a monthly donation!
The Kid LAROI and Cuffing Season
This week on Spotify, nestled among dozens of feel-good Christmas tunes were a couple of songs from newcomer The Kid LAROI about heartbreak and pain. He released “Reminds Me Of You” on Tuesday to coincide with his friend and musical mentor Juice WRLD’s one year death anniversary. Like most of The Kid LAROI’s music, the lyrics are dark and brutal; the first line from his even more popular song “WITHOUT YOU” is, “You cut out a piece of me, and now I bleed internally.” In other words, this isn’t exactly Mariah Carey.
The Kid LAROI is 17 years old. For some, it may be hard to understand how these feelings could exist in a 17-year-old (because what do they know about love or life, right?), or why such dark music would be so popular two weeks before Christmas. Others know firsthand the way the Christmas season can serve to accentuate the pain of love lost. For Gen Z, we’re also at the height of “cuffing season,” the period from October to Valentine’s day where teens feel pressure to make something romantic happen with someone. And though COVID continues to complicate matters, the inevitable social media slideshow of others’ perfect love stories will likely only serve to compound any lonely feelings that may be present.
In an interview with Inspire Nation, Susan Anderson says, “…when a child goes through something, and the parent validates the feelings and shows caring about the child’s feelings, it means everything. It means the child’s feelings are important, it means what the child is going through matters, it creates a connection, and it also builds an infrastructure in the child that that child can use in other relationships.” We’ve all been through a lot this year, and God willing it will all be over soon. Until then, though it may be tempting to dismiss any pain your child has due to their lack of life experience, we encourage you instead to listen. As we’ve said many times and in many ways, it is by listening that we’ll be able to establish the connection we want with the next generation—both in this season and beyond.