The Philadelphia Eagles’ Cinderella season may have come to a screeching halt last week. The NFL team’s star quarterback, Carson Wentz, suffered a season-ending ACL tear. But while many fans and commentators grieved what could have been, Wentz himself was tweeting this inspiring message: “I know my God is a powerful one with a perfect plan. Time to just lean in to him and trust whatever the circumstances! #Proverbs3:5-6.”
Wentz’s grounded response to his injury wasn’t the only nice moment in the sports world this week. Tennessee mom Kimberly Jones posted a video on Facebook (now taken down) in which her son, Keaton, talks about being bullied at school. The video soon went viral, with some pretty big names weighing in via Twitter to encourage the boy. NBA legend LeBron James was among them, tweeting, ” Bullies are straight up wack, corny, cowards, chumps, etc, etc! Keaton keep your head up buddy and push forward! You’re the best.” Other athletes and entertainers offering support included James’ teammate J.R. Smith (who invited him to a Cleveland Cavaliers game), actor Chris Evans (who plays Captain America and invited him to the premiere of the next Avengers movie next year), Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (who invited Keaton and his family to a game), retired NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. and even Snoop Dogg, who said, “Love is the only way to beat hate.”
Speaking of online phenomena, YouTube has released its always eclectic annual list of most-watched videos, as well as its list of most-viewed music videos. Topping the latter list was Luis Fonsi’s song “Despacito.” As of today, that video has been viewed a whopping 4.5 billion times—which makes it not just the biggest video of 2017, but the biggest video ever on YouTube. (South Korea’s PSY held that record for nearly five years for his song “Gangnam Style.”)
Forbes likewise released its annual list of the highest-paid YouTube stars this week. Perhaps most notable among them was 6-year-old Ryan of Ryan’s ToysReview, whose videos of himself opening toys garnered a mind-boggling 8 billion views and earned the tyke and his family a cool $11 million.
As for what people were searching for online this year, Google released its year-end list of the most-searched-for words and phrases. In descending order, they were: Hurricane Irma, Matt Lauer, Tom Petty, Super Bowl, Las Vegas Shooting, Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, solar eclipse, Hurricane Harvey, Aaron Hernandez and fidget spinner. The search colossus has also published its extensive annual report, “Year in Search 2017” for anyone interested in a deep statistical dive into the things we’re looking for online.
Slate published an article this week exploring what happens when adults play teens on TV and in the movies. Christina Cauterucci writes, “The impossible beauty of teen characters in film and TV is partially attributable to Hollywood’s aspirational human palette, which represents a limited range of acceptable physical characteristics. But it’s also an inevitable upshot of an industry that routinely casts actors in their mid-20s or even their 30s as bumbling pubescents. In a culture as shaped by media imagery as ours, the systemic misrepresentation of an entire age group has real consequences for how adults conceive of typical adolescence, and how teens measure themselves against it.”
Meanwhile, some Muslims are concerned with the way television depicts people of their faith. Salam Al-Marayati, president and co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told realclearlife.com, “When you (show Muslims only in the context of the Middle East) you’re stereotyping. Stereotyping is taking a grain of truth and sweeping it over a whole culture.”
Elsewhere this week, an old, sometimes-maligned theory about drug abuse is perhaps making a comeback. The so-called “gateway theory” hypothesizes that using a “mild” illicit drug (such as marijuana, for instance) lowers inhibitions and barriers when it comes to moving onto harder substances (cocaine, methamphetamines, etc.). The theory was a common one in the 1980s, but has since largely been discarded as being perhaps too simplistic. But a New York Times article this week spotlights new research that suggests there may be something to the theory after all.
Finally, former Facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya recently critiqued the influence of social media at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Among other soundbite-ready quotes, he said that social media outlets such as Facebook are “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. … The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works.” He also lamented that social media can be a place where there is “no civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem—this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.” Chamath urged his listeners to take a “hard break” from social media.
A company spokesperson for Facebook responded by trying to argue that things have changed since his departure. “Chamath has not been at Facebook for over six years. When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world. Facebook was a very different company back then and as we have grown we have realized how our responsibilities have grown too.”