Three Things This Week
1. Together, Apart, and “Among Us”
What it is: Among Us, a 2018 murder mystery game set in space, is attracting millions of new players.
Why it’s lonely quaranteen bait: Among Us didn’t get a lot of buzz in the US when it was first released, but was featured recently by a few prominent Twitch gamers and is now experiencing a meteoric surge in popularity. The premise of Among Us is similar to any “murder mystery”: Players have to find a randomly assigned “killer,” while the “killer” (who is also a player) bluffs their way out of being found out. The game is rated “E” and none of the “murdery” elements are very graphic in nature, but the game is suspenseful and intense as players test their skills of strategy and social awareness. With teens missing complex peer interactions, it makes sense that this game hits a bit different in 2020. And with a promised sequel now canceled to focus on improving the existing gameplay, more teens will probably be hopping on soon.
2. YouTube Becomes a Battleground State
What it is: YouTube has long been where conservative-leaning individuals and organizations go most viral. But Joe Biden’s campaign is spending big money to make it a more hospitable place for Democrats.
Why it’s impacting what your teen sees: YouTube is the dominant content platform for teens, who use it for everything from makeup tutorials to science homework. Ad buys on the platform won’t be the only focus of the Biden campaign, who hope to reproduce the popularity of talking heads like Ben Shapiro and Dave Ruben with influencers who are willing to toe a more progressive line. It’s a way of subverting the independent spirit of the young libertarian movement, and it’s a savvy campaign move on its surface; however, it’s also a ploy most young voters, who are digital natives, will be too sophisticated to be swayed by. (Biden Beauty is another confusing, likely ill-fated attempt at capturing young voters that has to be seen to be believed.)
3. Youth-Focused Groups See Record Voter Registration
What it is: It’s possible that younger Americans will be voting in record numbers on November 3rd, 2020, after National Voter Registration Day on September 22 saw teens signing up in droves.
Why it’s going to get interesting: Nonpartisan group Rock the Vote, which has been advocating for voter registration since its founding in 1990, says that it saw over 200,000 new registrations as a result of National Voter Registration Day, which was double their result in 2016. It’s no surprise that both parties are particularly eager to seize the votes of what’s been called “the activist generation.” But while it’s widely presumed that these younger voters will skew blue, it’s far from a foregone conclusion; no one knows exactly what Gen Z will prioritize at the ballot box in November.
Spotlight: Have these times of uncertainty left you feeling stressed as a parent, grandparent, or leader? Do you want to do better but just don’t know where to start? Join thousands of other parents and caring adults for the Parenting Pivot Challenge, beginning October 8! If you have teens and tweens in your life, this free online event is for you. We’re packing it full of expert interviews with solid advice and encouragement so you feel equipped to pivot into more confident parenting. Click here to learn more!
The Art of Conversation
David Augsburger once wrote, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” Although clearly the primary goal on Tuesday wasn’t for Trump and Biden to help each other feel loved, their exchange reminded us why we believe so strongly in the importance of conversation, especially with Gen Z.
At Axis, we believe that discipleship happens where conversation happens. Part of why is because when others want to understand our point of view, our defenses usually go down, and we’re more willing to listen to their point of view. This is just as true with Gen Z as it is with anyone else. As Drs. Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen point out in their book Difficult Conversations, “Changes in attitudes and behavior rarely come about because of arguments, facts, and attempts to persuade. How often do you change your values and beliefs—or whom you love or what you want in life—based on something someone tells you? And how likely are you to do so when the person who is trying to change you doesn’t seem to be aware of the reasons you see things differently in the first place?"
Whereas interruption communicates that we care about our own viewpoint more than the other’s, listening communicates that we care for them, and that their perspective matters to us. Christians on both sides of the political aisle should be able to agree with this. And as Dr. Sherry Turkle puts it, “When adults listen during conversations, they show children how listening works. In family conversation, children learn that it is comforting and pleasurable to be heard and understood. Family conversation is where children first learn to see other people as different from themselves and worthy of understanding.”
We encourage you to lean into listening even more over the next week. If your teens paid any attention to the debate itself, ask them their thoughts—and of course, which meme from the night was their favorite (FYI, a couple contain mild language). The love of God initiates, and as parents and caring adults, we have the opportunity to model this love by listening first. Maybe in the process, our teens will catch the vision too.