Over the last week or so the Twittersphere has been slightly awash with responses to ‘The Daily Mail’ (Britain) reporting that more people applied to be contestants on the current season of Love Island than the number that applied this year for Oxford and Cambridge Universities – combined!
One commentator suggested that how an individual responds to that statistic might say volumes about them. Horror or delight – what is your first response? Maybe there is a University research degree in there somewhere …
To further affirm British TV viewer fascination, the show rated the highest ever for the network that aired it – and Australian viewers seem little different. Our fascination with our fellow humans interacting in artificial situations as they compete to become D-class celebrities with growing Instagram popularity and egos seems relentless. And there is only one winner.
There is an argument that it’s simply ‘new entertainment’ but I suspect we have a nagging discomfort as we consider the effect on our collective brain – and especially the young brains we care so much for. There are others who are more clear-cut in their opinions and would link the many narcissistic messages evident in our modern society to body image issues, depression, alarming suicide rates, bullying and more.
But can our communities challenge the prevailing new order and be a part of the antidote?
Critical and analytical thinking skills, curiosity, quality questions and the love of learning all contribute – and many post-modernists would argue our own capabilities are enough. However, these ‘skills’ of themselves seem to be losing the battle of the mind against the torrent of mass-media. As Lutheran schools we would advocate for much more as described in the foundations of Growing Deep which tells us that we draw strength …
“… from the promises of God and (this) includes being optimistic about the future, and consciously choosing to project warmth, faith and hope in relationships with others. It involves valuing the gifts and contributions of all and creating a sense of optimism by building a positive and energetic climate of encouragement and support, even during times of difficulty or change.” (Growing Deep: Living Positively, p6)
That’s not a picture of a ‘Love Island society’ which tells us that it’s all about ‘me’. Rather, Growing Deep echoes the essence of Biblical teaching which is clear – a rich life is all about our relationship to God and others. Who would we be; what would we do, if we believed every student and person in our community could have even just that one paragraph as their experience in its full richness – in both giving and receiving?