Thursday, January 10, 2013

We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists - Dr. Keith Ablow

Disclaimer:  I only know of Dr. Keith Ablow by name and the occasional time I see him on the news.  Apart from sharing a birthday with him I know very little about the man.

In this op-ed the gloves come off as he describes the up-and-coming generation. He writes:

A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.
Psychologist Jean Twenge, the lead author of the analysis, is also the author of a study showing that the tendency toward narcissism in students is up 30 percent in the last thirty-odd years.
This data is not unexpected.  I have been writing a great deal over the past few years about the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.
On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.”  
Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.
He goes on to argue that this generation's narcissistic bubble will burst one day.  And with that will come lots of suicides and homicides (one might argue that we are already there).

I only bring attention to this because Dr. Ablow is no evangelical Christian and is probably not friendly toward the church.  If the secular folks are saying such things then where is the church in this mess?  Sadly, we are part of the problem.  Long ago we capitulated to the narcissism when we adopted 'seeker-friendly' and 'market-driven' strategies.

For those perceptive folks out there here's a question:  How will we reach the coming generation who thinks that it is all about them?  Will we cater to them even more or will we have the courage to get into their faces and tell them the truth that the world doesn't revolve around them, that it never has and that it never will?  This is a relevant question for pastors, elders and church planters.

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