What happens when a young Swedish girl speaks out about climate change in 2019? Well, a lot of things. We’ve mentioned Greta Thunberg’s activism on this blog before, back when she made her first speech. Ever since her cause has gained plenty of momentum and she spoke most recently at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City. In preparation, thousands of young people across the globe participated in The Global Climate Strike on September 20, leading up to the event in New York.
Young people worldwide, inspired by Thunberg’s outspoken opposition to leaders’ inaction on climate change, are demanding that global powers make changes to protect the climate. Back in August, she started the “Fridays for Future” movement, inviting young people to join her in skipping school on Fridays to protest outside of Swedish Parliament, demanding changes.
Thunberg and her followers are not without critics. Many have belittled her efforts, suggesting that she, as a young person is incapable of making a difference. Others suggest she’s overestimated the severity of climate change (or that climate change isn’t real). Some have criticized her presentation, which is different from most public speakers/presenters, as she suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, which she calls her superpower.
And, while there are several issues in addition to climate change that global powers can or should be taking more seriously, I don’t consider Thunberg’s rapid influence on the world and young people to be discouraging. Instead, I find it encouraging that a young person is speaking up about something she believes in deeply, and inspiring others to do the same. All young people need guidance, of course, especially when it comes to navigating causes and ways they want to make a difference. Still, the fact that the world is listening to a young person, and, at least some people are taking her seriously, is an excellent source of encouragement to me, as I wholeheartedly believe in the power of young people to be part of positive change.
As Thunberg gains traction – with celebrities and politicians amplifying her voice – two significant realities are becoming more apparent. The first reality is that more than ever climate change is being talked about and teens are engaged in the conversation. The second reality is that we can never underestimate the power of young people.
As parents of Catholic teens, I’d encourage you to learn more about Greta and her cause and talk with your teens about it. Challenge them to consider those things they’ve experienced or observed in the world that they want to change, improve, and how they see themselves using their voice to begin to take action. You might even consider helping them understand why the Church takes certain stances on specific issues and empower them to use their voices to speak up for those areas where the Church’s position has been misunderstood or poorly communicated by the world.
Now that I’ve taken up the majority of this months’ blog discussing the efforts of one young lady, I will try to sum up everything else that’s been going on in teen culture briefly.
The iPhone 11 is out, which isn’t wildly revolutionary. Still, all users, including teens, are excited about the wide-angle lens capability, which will likely be influencing VSCO girls’ Instagram accounts immediately. TikTok still reigns as one of the most-used teen mobile social media platforms. It surpassed both Facebook and Instagram in-app installs earlier this year, and there doesn’t seem to be any stopping. Soundcloud rappers like Goldn and YNW Melly are finding success by sharing songs that are being featured (copycat style) in many users’ videos, along with artists with much bigger audiences including Macklemore and Kanye West.
In other teen culture news, Billie Eilish, a member of Gen Z, is going to be the first musical guest on the upcoming season of Saturday Night Live. Known for her unconventional style, spooky songs, and down-to-earth way, she’s a great representative for this generation to continue making a way in the world of entertainment. Other music that has been released includes albums from Post Malone and Camila Cabello and singles from Lauv, Halsey, and Rex Orange County that probably have your teens singing along or at least hearing bits and pieces from their friends.
For your gaming teens, as we anticipate the new movie “The Joker,” Fortnite has announced a collaboration with Batman. There is also a new mobile version of “Mario Kart Tour,” accessible to any of your teens with a smartphone.
Thanks for hanging for that rapid-fire summary, following a lengthier discussion of the waves that Greta Thurnberg is making. As always, I continue to be inspired and encouraged by today’s teenagers. They give me great hope and, despite the wild influences that are out there, I do have confidence that, with the right guidance, this generation is capable of very great things.
The goal of this blog is to give parents information and insight into what is trending in teen culture so as to provide entry points and conversation starters as they guide their teens through modern culture. The purpose of this blog is not to condone, or approve of all aspects of teen culture but rather to inform.