THREE THINGS THIS WEEK
1.Squid Game Sponcon
What it is: YouTuber Mr. Beast released a real-life, blood-free version of the runaway hit show Squid Game. The slickly produced video was sponsored to the tune of $3.5 million by a mobile game called Brawl Stars.
Why teens and tweens are watching: Mr. Beast is one of the most popular (and profitable) YouTubers based in the United States. He’s known for his generous stunts, like buying all of the food in a grocery store and donating it, as well as game-show style survival games where his fans compete to win giant sums of money. That’s why Mr. Beast was a natural fit to create a live-action version of the runaway hit show Squid Game, which continues to capture the imagination of teens as well as adults. Brawl Stars is itself a battle royale game, and it will probably get a huge return on its production investment in the form of app downloads. In a world that feels increasingly focused on staying safe behind a screen, there’s just something about fighting for survival, even to the death (or, in the case of Mr. Beast’s version, a popped balloon) that really seems to hit a nerve right now.
2. Unreal Estate
What it is: Speaking of screens, your Gen Zer’s first home may only exist in virtual reality. There’s a real estate boom in the metaverse, er, metaverses, and developers are snapping up virtual properties (and yachts) for millions of dollars.
Why it’s a sign of the times: “Real” assets are moving to the virtual realm with alarming speed, with ownership of NFTs (virtual works of art and other “objects”) and cryptocurrency dominating interest among young investors and many business ventures. Just like in the real world, once a business or individual owns a virtual piece of land, they can lease it out or allow others to advertise on it. Companies are betting big that the life we live in front of our screens will eventually be more real to us than our actual embodied experiences. (If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is the plot of the film The Matrix.) Those investing in the metaworlds may stand to make a ton of money, but can’t change this truth: There’s a reason God gave us bodies to experience physical difficulties and sensory pleasures in the world He made for us.
3. YikYak Is Back
What it is: The controversial anonymous gossip app YikYak returned to the internet this week, promising to behave itself better than last time.
Why it should be on your radar: YikYak advertises itself as a sort of hyperlocal social media, which made it extremely popular in middle schools, high schools, and college campuses. Users would post anonymous messages that went out to other users within a five-mile radius. Other users could then up-vote or down-vote the message. But the app became known as a vehicle for cyberbullying and hate speech. That’s a big reason why the app saw a huge decline in its use, leading to its eventual shutdown in 2017. Just four years later, the social climate and what is and is not acceptable to post has changed dramatically, so it’s possible that a new and improved YikYak could succeed as a venue for harmless posts and entertainment. It’s also possible that it will fail to get teens’ attention, with so many newer social media options available for getting a quick message out to people within your immediate vicinity.
Slang of the Week:
Based: foundational; unshakeable; an adjective that has evolved to mean being yourself and not caring what anyone thinks about it. It could be a TikTok comment on a post where someone displays particular confidence or expresses an unpopular opinion without fear of “cancellation,” often in a one-word comment. Can also be used sarcastically.
Translation: Unreal Estate
Why would someone spend $650,000 on a digital yacht? “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?” These are questions we may never fully have answers to. And yet, we can understand this much: being able to do that is a huge flex. Rappers bragging about having enough money to purchase absurd extravagances are a mainstay on top music charts, week in, week out. Regardless of the future potential of buying up metaverse real estate now, having enough money to purchase things like giant yacht NFTs not-so-subtly suggests that the buyer has so much that $650k isn’t all that significant to them.
As we wrote above, just like in the real world, once a business or individual owns a virtual piece of land, they can lease it out or allow others to advertise on it. This much makes sense. As Metaverse Group co-founder Michael Gord recently put it to the New York Times, “Imagine if you came to New York when it was farmland, and you had the option to get a block of SoHo. If someone wants to buy a block of real estate in SoHo today, it’s priceless, it’s not on the market. That same experience is going to happen in the metaverse.”
But even in the metaverse, principles of biblical stewardship are still relevant.
In the Bible, the topic of money comes up more often than any other topic. In fact, according to some sources, money is mentioned 2,350 times. This is because money reveals where our heart is. And yet, conversations about issues like wise spending, generosity, greed, and debt rarely happen in proportion to the amount of times the Bible mentions money.
We want to provide you with resources to help you have this conversation. One of our newest Parent Guides is our Parent’s Guide to Money, which we hope you’ll take advantage of for free as fuel for this conversation with your teens. For anyone who’s a part of our Axis Membership, we also have a video conversation kit that we also hope you’ll make use of
Money can be used generously or selfishly; it can be used wisely or unwisely. And we believe you as parents and caring adults are in the most strategic position to help your teens discern the difference.
Here are some questions we hope might spark further conversation with your teen:
- Why do you think someone would buy a $650,000 yacht NFT?
- Do you think buying real estate in the metaverse is a good idea?
- What do you think it means to spend money wisely?
Keep the Faith!
- The Axis Team
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