The term “Me Generation” was coined in the 1970s by Tom Wolfe, and by many measures, the narcissism ti entails has never ended. In fact, this selfishness has only expanded due to social media–but it appears the Bible predicted it over 2000 years ago.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
– Philippians 2:3
On the August 23, 1976 cover of New York Magazine the main headline read: “Tom Wolfe reports on America’s New Great Awakening: The “Me” Decade.” Wolf declared baby boomers as the “Me Generation” due to its perceived narcissism.
The 1970s were rightly described as a “Me” decade. It was a time when new self-oriented trends began, such as a preponderance of self-help books, exercise fads, and mood rings among other things reflective of people being more self-absorbed than in previous generations.
But the self-obsessions of the 1970s didn’t end there. That mindset only amplified in the 1980s. People became even more self-absorbed with their own images and concerns. Bumper stickers and T-shirts reflect the thinking: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” And let’s not forget the famous line from the movie Wall Street: “Greed is Good.”
But the Bible teaches the opposite. Greed, pride, and earthly desires are selfish. They are actively harmful to ourselves and others around us.
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.”
– 1 John 2:16
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
– James 3:16
As the Internet really began to take off in the mid-1990s, people have the ability to publish their own websites. Also around that time, services such as CompuServe, America Online, and Prodigy opened up Internet-based communications such as email, bulletin board messaging, and online chatting.
In the early 2000s, Friendster emerged as the first social media site, quickly eclipsed by MySpace, which was then overtaken by Facebook. Numerous other variations arose in the 2010s such as Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn. Later, they were joined by Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. And the next big player, TikTok, came along in 2016.
This plethora of social media sites and apps says a lot about the narcissistic nature of today’s worldwide culture and the demand for ways to ask other people to “give me attention.”
These platforms became competitive and boastful, with people resorting to trickery to alter their images for the sake of creating false appearances to impress others.
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
– 2 Timothy 3:1-5
The Bible warns us that as we approach the times nearing the last days, people will become so self-absorbed that even so-called people of faith will be corrupted. It will be a time when people are all about themselves. You can certainly make a strong argument that we have been in such a time since the 1970s.
The Bible teaches us to put God above all things. Secondly, when it comes to ourselves, we are instructed to put others before us.
As the holy text reads:
“Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Jesus also talked about those who are self-absorbed and self-promoting:
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
Focus not on what you can do for yourself, but what you can do for others. Jesus said:
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”