“MISSING GIRL”. . . that’s a headline in this morning’s Lancaster newspaper. Beneath the headline are two selfies taken from the 15-year-old girl’s Facebook page. A short article names the young high school freshman, and indicates that she was last seen at her home at 11:30 pm on Friday night. Her understandably distraught mother posted a Facebook message, which said, “A friend of hers mentioned she was planning on meeting 4 college guys from Millersville.”
Granted, all I know about this story is what I read in this morning’s paper. But in the context of a culture shaped by a convergence of symbiotic forces including social media, hyper-sexuality, radical narcissism, diminished morality, and entitlement (among other things), you can’t help but imagine a multitude of possible scenarios that could be working themselves out here. Four college men and a vulnerable young 15-year-old girl. . . who, like all young adolescents, most likely desires to be validated through attention. Again, I don’t know. She could just be quietly staying at a neighbor’s house. But the realities of life in today’s world and all its possibilities lead us to pray earnestly for this young lady and her safe return home.
Perhaps this story struck a nerve for me this morning as I’m traveling to Philadelphia today to speak to a group of parents on kids and social media. We’ve been tracking social media trends for years now through our Digital Kids Initiative. . . trying to sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly along with how we can best respond. As part of my preparation, I did a Google Image search on Friday. . . a search that left me deeply saddened. The search term? “Teen Selfies.” And if a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then my vocabulary based on what I saw was a vocabulary of sadness, concern, and alarm. Our kids are putting themselves out there. . . and the “out there” indicates the “inside beliefs” that combine with adolescent impulsivity that lead to their selfie behavior. My search offers more proof of how hyper-sexuality, radical narcissism, diminished morality, and entitlement are shaping how our kids both see and present themselves in today’s world.
Our kids need adults who will be bold enough to speak biblical truth into their lives. After all, we want them flourish, don’t we?
I was reminded this morning of one wise voice and her message that I encountered online last week. I’ve never met Melissa Edgington, but I admire what she’s saying on her blog, “Your Mom Has a Blog.” And last week she spoke directly to the nexus of hyper-sexuality, radical narcissism, diminished morality, and entitlement. It’s worth three minutes of your time. She issued this challenge in her post, “What Girls Should Demand”:
There aren’t that many things in this life that I believe we are called to demand of others. But, this thing, girls, this demand that I am laying before you today, is a big one. It is a demand that goes against everything society is telling you to do. It’s one that will make you seem alternative and will make you feel redeemed and will help you see yourself as God sees you.
Demand that boys respect your body and your soul.
Because here is a deep down truth that I want you to understand. When they disrespect your body, they are disrespecting your soul. When they protect your body, your precious, God-breathed, flesh and bone, they are loving your soul.
I’m not sure how it came to be that girls decided that they weren’t going to demand this respect from the boys in their life. I’m not sure why, when boys started asking for pictures that girls started sending them. I’m not sure why girls moved from being insulted by sexual advances from people they hardly knew to being flattered by them. Have we failed you so badly, sweet girls, that you truly believe that you are worth nothing more than a one-night stand? That you are only useful when you are naked? That you are liberated by meaningless sex when we can all see that you are so entangled and enslaved by it?
No. God made you for so much more.
Let me tell you about the man that you should look for in this life. . . (you can read the rest of her post here).