I thought it would be instructive to post some of the findings and insights from Dr. Twenge’s book Generation Me. The plan is to pass along things that I highlighted as I read.
We had a very good discussion of these findings as a faculty at Trinity Christian Academy this Fall. Chapter one is titled, You Don’t Need Their Approval: The Decline of Social Rules. What makes this book helpful is Dr. Twenge’s balanced treatment of socio-environmental influences and personal responsibility.
As I read this book I thought of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where Paul characterizes the difficult times ahead in the ‘last days.’ I could see how the table had been set in the Western World, and America particularly, for the attitudes featured in Paul’s words.
Here are some findings from Chapter 1:
- GenMe is driven by individual needs and desires…..follow our dreams, pursue happiness above all else….”it’s OK to be different”….”do what’s right for you.” [How many different ways can ‘Caroline’ be spelled?…a tip to Brian Regan.]
- “My generation believes we can do almost anything.” Do what makes you happy, and don’t worry about what other people think. [You can do or be anything you want to be if you try hard enough…what if I want to be an NFL lineman but I am 5’2″ and weigh 126?…they often figure this lie out and despair.]
- Baby Boomers laid claim to the phrase “question authority” . . . GenMe doesn’t just question authority—-we disrespect it entirely.
- Parents are no longer eager to be “parents.” They want to love and guide their children as a “trusted friend.” [She wonders if there is a national guilt over abortion which makes us overindulgent of the children we do have . . . interesting]
- GenMe is also less willing to follow the rules of organized religion. Church attendance has declined 30% since the 1950s.
- Belief systems of young people have become “highly individualized” . . . ”make-your own-religion”.
- Many churches that have grown in membership in the past few decades are the fundamentalist Christian churches . . . they promote a very personalized form of religion. . . . Jesus Chris as your personal savior . . . He has a plan for your life . . . personal faith vs. good works that you perform. [You are special – if you were the only person on earth Jesus would still have died for you . . . that is how important YOU are.]
- The combination of the eroding respect for authority and the compulsive honesty of this generation . . . cause young people to see their directness as an asset. [Brashness = honesty.]
- The overall message of many movies: rebel against restrictive social mores. Don’t follow the rules; do whatever makes you happy. [Yet the more they are different the more they are the same]
- This generation is less likely to trust our neighbors. They trust no one . . . growing ever more toward disconnection and away from close communities. [Yet they long for it because we are made in His triune image.]
We weren’t created to be me-first. But we fell for the lie that we would be happy if we were. We still fall for it! Now more than ever, we live in a time and place where this me-first is never challenged but applauded and its false virtue extolled.
The only story that will save us is the story of the truly self-important One who laid it aside to rescue us from the inevitable emptiness of self-importance. Let’s not scoff but extol the wonders of Him who called us out of darkness and into his wonderful light.