What 2018 Holds For Us: The Downside

 
Joe Henegan | December 29th 2017

I don’t want to go all Black Mirror on you, but trying to keep up with all of the change I wrote about in yesterday's blog in a way that doesn’t drastically alter the way we see the world is becoming increasingly difficult.

The internet will continue to be a strange place for children. Youtube -- the second largest search engine’s popularity-based algorithm is promoting content to kids that is possibly the weirdest phenomenon gaining momentum on the internet right now. Kids are being mesmerised by videos of people opening ‘surprise eggs’ and hour-long videos of endlessing looping nursery rhymes, among many others. As technology blogger James Bridle says in this revealing piece:

“Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.”

People in general will think we are weirder and more out of touch with the culture.

Our mental health is deteriorating. New pressures from social media are contributing to a sharp rise in rates of stress, anxiety and depression in teenage girls which mental health specialists say is “deeply worrying.” The most popular social media platforms among this age bracket (Instagram and Snapchat) are ones that can promote a devastating feeling of missing out (FOMO). Dr Bernadka Dubicka, the chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, explains that the “pressure for young people to be involved 24/7 and keep up with their peer group or they will be left out and socially excluded” can lead to a “damaging and even destructive” impact on the mental wellbeing of young girls.

We don’t really know how to live as adults either. Entertainment and merchandise powerhouse Disney recently announced that it thankfully was ditching its dad stereotypes and encouraging other brands to join them in portraying fathers in a better light. For decades, popular culture has been cashing in on familiar baffoonish father characters (think Homer Simpson, Daddy Pig from Peppa Pig and Ray Barone) and it has inspired a generation of Peter Pans (man childs).

The church will continue to shrink in some areas. This, undoubtedly, hurts the church today as we see a culture shrinking back from taking leadership and responsibility. The forecast for church attendance will continue to look grim as we witness the ‘rise of the nons’. The latest statistics show for the first time that more than half of the British public describe themselves as having ‘no religion’.

Evangelism will inevitably feel more dangerous. As we attempt to reach a society that finds itself in a landscape of mob culture and increasing political polarity in the West the stakes will be that little bit higher when we open our mouths. There will be more interventions of street preaching, more scandals involving private business owners and more pressure on the church to conform. People in general will think we are weirder and more out of touch with the culture.

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Yesterday we looked at all the ways we can feel positive going into the New Year. Tune in tomorrow for the final part of this series, and some thoughts on how to equip ourselves for a challenging year full of opportunities

Joe Henegan

Joe is our Vice President of Marketing. He lives in South London, UK with his wife and two daughters and is a member at River Church Sutton - part of the Newfrontiers network - where he runs a small group and various outreach activities.