Every generation has certain unique traits. Traits that are defining to a generation, yet seem odd to the generations that came before. Where one generation brings a business man like Bill Gates another brings Mark Zuckerberg. Where one generation celebrates the Beatles, another celebrates Madonna, and yet another celebrates Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. One generation invents the television, another the personal computer, and another the smartphone.
I’m a part of the generation that has come to be known as the Millennials. We are a generation known for technological advances, selfishness, and laziness. As with many generations, we have certain practices that have become popular that are highly descriptive of our generation. These behaviors are certainly not exclusive to the Millenials, but they have absolutely been made popular by us and are descriptive of us. Selfies, foodies, and #firstworldproblems.
Selfie is an affectionate term meant to describe taking a picture of yourself. For whatever reason my generation feels the need to use the camera on the front of our phones to frequently take pictures of ourselves and post them online for the world to see. It’s as if we believe that the world, at any given moment, is wondering, “What are you wearing tonight?"
Foodies are very similar to selfies, just change the subject of the photograph to food. My generation, just as we do with ourselves, believe that at any given moment we need to share with the world what we are eating. So we compose a scene on the table of the restaurant. We make sure the lighting is just right, find the right filter, and upload it to instagram and watch how many people like our photo.
This hashtag is meant to be a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek way to make fun of ourselves. It makes a joke of the fact that we as millenials, grow up far more wealthy than most of the world, and because of this we have different kind of problems (which really aren’t significant problems). We wake up in the morning and when looking at our closet think, “I have nothing to wear.” This is a #firstworldproblem. Because only in a world of wealth and abundance can you have a closet full of clothes and have nothing to wear.
One author described my generation this way:
"Today's under-35 young people are the real Me Generation, or, as I call them, Generation Me. Born after self-focus entered the cultural mainstream, this generation has never known a world that put duty before self. Linda's youngest child, Jessica, was born in 1985. When Jessica was a toddler, Whitney Houston's No. 1 hit song declared that "The Greatest Love of All" was loving yourself. Jessica's elementary school teachers believed that their most important job was helping Jessica feel good about herself. Jessica scribbled in a coloring book called We Are All Special, got a sticker on her worksheet just for filling it out, and did a sixth-grade project called "All About Me." When she wondered how to act on her first date, her mother told her, "Just be yourself." Eventually, Jessica got her lower lip pierced and obtained a large tattoo on her lower back because, she said, she wanted to express herself. She dreams of being a model or a singer. She does not expect to marry until she is in her late twenties, and neither she nor her older sisters have any children yet. "You have to love yourself before you can love someone else," she says. This is a generation unapologetically focused on the individual, a true Generation Me.” - Jean Twenge, Generation Me
At this point if you are a Millenial, you are hoping I ease up… just bear with me. And if you know a millennial, have one working for you, or one living in your home… you are just nodding your head. You are thinking to yourself, "I’ve seen that before,” "Wish they’d change that attitude,” or "That one’s caused a few problems."
Let’s look at a few more quotes:
“The rock upon which most…marriage barges go to pieces is the latter-day cult of individualism; the worship of the brazen calf of the Self."
Imagine a generation of young people entering marriages, only to see those same marriages soon destroyed because those entering into the marriages were so self-centered that they could put aside their own interests for the sake of their relationship. A generation so focused on “me” that there marriages would crumble. This was written in The Atlantic in 1907; more than 75 years before the first Millenial was born.
"The 1970s, a period that will come to be known as the Me Decade.” - New York, August 23, 1976 in The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening
Imagine a generation in your mind. Imagine a generation that is so self-centered - so vain - that they felt the need to capture every little moment of their lives with their new, cutting-edge technology. Imagine the generation that uses their devices to capture everything.
In 1980, Newsweek showcased a generation with their newfound technology of the camcorder. Because of technology, a generation could now capture birthday parties, recitals, weddings, christmas morning, and sporting events. Technology would allow them to capture everything.
"They have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder… They crave entertainment, but their attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial… They postpone marriage because they dread divorce.” - Time, July 16, 1990 about Generation X
The Human Condition // Homo Incurvatus In Se
Maybe we are all the me generation. Perhaps selfishness runs much deeper than generational lines and it actually infiltrates the human heart.
Martin Luther described this selfishness as the inward curve of the human heart (homo incurvatus in se). Luther taught that core to the human condition, our sinful nature, is that we are bent in on ourselves. That we are looking out for our own desires, our own interests, our own feelings. This is why the Apostle Paul describes our sinful nature by saying, “I know that there is nothing good in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do good but I do not.” Paul is in essence saying, “I am so bent on sin that even when I think that I want to do the right thing, I am continually drawn to sin.”
We certainly can describe Millenials as the Me Generation; that would be accurate. And the millenials will have certain unique problems that other generations didn’t face because of their choices. But just as the millenials are the Me Generation, so was each generation that came before it. The Me Generation is not a modern phenomena, the me generation began in the Garden of Eden. In each and every generation from the beginning of time, sin has caused the human heart to say, “Me, me, me.” And the only thing that changes this is Christ. Christ, who gave his life for me, works in me, through me, and with me he curves my me-focused heart outward towards others and says, “You, you, you.”
Photo Credit: Corey Grunewald Photography