COUNTERING THE CULTURE
By almost every measurable standard, all indicators show that our young people today are in trouble.
Between 2009 and 2021 the share of American teenagers who say they feel “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rose from 16% to 44%. Forty-four percent! Derek Thompson, a journalist with the Atlantic newspaper, claims this figure is “the highest rate of teenage sadness every recorded.” Thompson also makes the claim that this situation can be traced to four key issues: social media, social isolation, the extra stressful global situation, and today’s parenting style. The mental health of our young people is crumbling! And at its core is a culture-wide loss of meaning.
Let’s look at each of Thompson's stated “contributing issues.”
1. Social media. Next time you’re in a coffee shop or virtually any place where people gather, look around you. You can almost guarantee that 50% of the people are honed in on a cell phone. Our lives center around this dominating device. I have watched families sitting together in a restaurant – each glued to that little hand-held device – hardly aware – let alone acknowledging the presence of anyone else at the table. And we wonder why individuals are feeling lonely and isolated? Our undisciplined and dominating use of social media is a huge contributing factor.
2. Social isolation. The reality is that one leads to the other. A person can be among others and still feel isolated when most of the people around them are locked in their own little world, hardly aware you exist.
3. Stressful global conditions. The world is currently caught up in an unprovoked war in Ukraine triggered by a mad man whose hunger for power and control has virtually put the entire global community on edge. Threats of nuclear weapons and retaliatory moves have everyone feeling uneasy – and helpless to do anything about it. In Nicaragua a key leader recently asked me: “Is this the crazy world we’re leaving our kids?”
4. Today’s parenting style. One must ask – “Who really is doing the parenting? Who’s teaching the values? Is it the parents or the school board? Is it the parents or their peers? Have parents abdicated their parenting responsibilities and let our ramped-up social media shape our children?” Regretfully in many homes this is what’s happening. The constant bombardment of images, comments, advertisements, lifestyle choices, and menacing social media is shaping the perceptions of our young people and altering their beliefs and lifestyles. We have sown to the wind and are reaping a whirlwind!
King Solomon is regarded as the wisest man who ever lived. He provides us some crucial points of advice. “Without guidance from God, law and order disappear, but God blesses everyone who obeys his Law.” (Prov. 29:18 CEV) “Don’t fail to correct your children. You won’t kill them by being firm, and it may even save their lives.” (Prov. 23:13-14 CEV) “Use wisdom and understanding to establish your home; let good sense fill the rooms with priceless treasures.” (Prov. 24:3-4 CEV) “Don’t let evil people worry you or make you jealous. They will soon be gone like the flame of a lamp that burns out.” (Prov. 24:19-20 CEV)
Only a firm trust in Jesus can provide the lasting hope, peace, and sense of self-worth that today’s young people search for. God help us to be beacons of light that show them the Way. (John 14:27)
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love
Luke 11:34; Matthew 10:26:31; 11:28-30; Jeremiah 29:11; I Peter 2:9; John 8:32