3. The ME Generation

In the last 100 years, pollsters and sociologists have tried to classify generations of people—Americans in particular. One group, Pew Research Center, has categorized the generations this way:

The Silent Generation—born between 1928-1945

The Baby Boomers – born between 1946-1964

Generation X – born 1965-1980

Millennials – born 1981-1996

Generation Z (or Post Millennials)– born 1997-2012[i]

The research group measures attitudes on issues across demographic groups based on what was happening in the world. World events, political and economic factors affect those who observe and experience them. This implies that a person is “defined” by the time in which he or she is born. Though the twists and turns of events do seem to shape attitudes and economic trends, these still do not define who we are.

Pew Research reports this:

Most Millennials were between the ages of 5 and 20 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the nation, and many were old enough to comprehend the historical significance of that moment, while most members of Gen Z have little or no memory of the event. Millennials also grew up in the shadow of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which sharpened broader views of the parties and contributed to the intense political polarization that shapes the current political environment. [ii]

There is evidence that opinions and points of view are affected by world events in each generation, i.e. The Great Depression, World War II, the assassination of a president, the Vietnam War, Watergate, 9/11. Some of these affect, perhaps, life choices, but still they do not go so far as to dictate who we are. Statistics, polls, or horoscopes should not be allowed to steal our true identities. Many of these suppositions and theories become edicts (labels) that we feel we can’t escape. It’s easy to declare, “Well, I’m just a Baby Boomer,” to explain away positions on certain issues (like racism and the environment). Being born in a certain atmosphere or region is not an excuse, either, for certain kinds of behavior. We are not “entitled” just because of our heritage or bad experiences.

Though it is clear that each generation may have its own characteristics because of historical events, it is not a foregone conclusion that our birthdays define us any more than what astrological sign we were born under.

As far as the moniker of being the Me Generation, it is often applied to the “next” generation.” Not us, of course.  Here’s a thought: every generation has been the Me Generation in one form or another.  Individualism, “the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant” is not new and it won’t ever go away. That’s why Paul wrote to new believers in Rome found recorded in the Book of Romans, chapter 12. “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking,” which was a forewarning of how easy it is to exchange a lie for the truth. (verse 2)

The most recent studies have centered on the Millennials and they have been called the newest Me Generation. One of the latest books written on this phenomena is Generation Me – Revised and Updated: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before by Jean M. Twenge. She states, “Today’s young people speak the language of the self as their native tongue.” This is quite a harsh judgment for a generation, whether it’s true or not. Maybe it’s because technology has played a huge part in the newest obsession with self. Though I love my smartphone and all of the things it will do, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time using it for nothing particularly constructive. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others that are designed to keep us in touch with each other, have become instruments used to “spy” on others. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know more about someone or some event, but because we’re a society of excesses, we tend to think “if a little is good, more has to be better.” And so the cycle continues.

Though bullying has been around for centuries, new technology takes it to another level. Then there’s sexting that takes something that is, again, not necessarily evil (selfies) and perverts it into something satanic. (Interesting note: My spell checker didn’t alert me when I typed sexting.)

My generation has said that this younger generation has too much time on its hands. We’ve also claimed that smartphones account for disorders such as ADD and ADHD. We are trying to find something or someone to blame for the perceived downward spiral of intelligence, creativity, and emotional stability and decay.

We shake our heads at the Millennials or other generations and wonder what’s the world coming to? Some of our verbiage is to bash the young people of the world, to demonize technology, or to demean those who use it. This series is not about that. It is to help unravel the concept of self-absorption based on unhealthy labels that we all let define us.

STOP AND ASK YOURSELF: According to the chart above, into which generation were you born? Are you basing your identity on that or on other societal distinctions?

LIE: I am a victim of my upbringing and my environment. I can’t help my biases and my beliefs about who I am.

TRUTH: Romans 12: 2

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

[i] https://www.pewresearch.org/topic/generations-age/

[ii] ibid

2 thoughts on “3. The ME Generation

  1. Greg Nelson

    Thanks for this, Nan! Good stuff here. More speech is wasted on affixing blame than actually doing something to right the ship. Lament is kinda the same way. We tend to spend way more time lamenting things that have happened to us rather than lamenting our own sin. I love you…and your blogs…❤️


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