Recently in Germany, journalist Susanna Ohlen was fired by the RTL television network after being exposed for spattering mud on herself before she went on-air to make it appear as if she had been helping with the cleanup from the deadly floods in Germany. The 39-year-old apologized for her actions and said her reasoning was because she “felt ashamed to stand in front of the camera in clean clothes, in front of other relief workers”. Twitch streamer Adin Ross recently had a video showing himself tipping a subway worker $1,000. These two anecdotes are examples of the era that we live in: The Era of Self-Glorification.
Ohlen claimed that she had “helped privately in the region days before”. Now, this may or may not be true, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. The bigger issue here is that she cared more about what others thought of her than the actual deed of kindness. If she really wanted to just help out of the goodness of her heart, then she would have helped and kept that information to herself. But she decided to go out of her way and lie to make herself seem like a very kind person.
We see the same issue with Adin Ross. The title of his video, which has been viewed more than 300,000 times, is titled, “Tipping Fast Food Employee $1000. *HE DIDN’T CARE*”. As my generation would say, he did this for the clout. He did this for attention, not out of the goodness of his heart. If he had done it out of the desire to simply be kind and generous, he wouldn’t have filmed anything and simply tipped the $1,000 and gone about his business and made a video about something else.
We collectively as humans have become gods in our own eyes. Our world is so advanced. Technology has reached incredible heights. Diseases that were terrifying and devastating to past generations, have largely not affected us alive today. Billionaires and ordinary citizens are going to space when just 60 years ago the first man entered space. We have become wise in our own eyes and stopped glorifying our Creator.
In Matthew 5, Jesus starts preaching about a variety of topics like prayer, forgiveness, divorce, temptation, and others. Eventually, he talks about giving and he tells the multitude to give secretly. There are occasions during Jesus’ ministry, like in the end of Mark 1 and the end of Mark 7, where Jesus tells those that he heals to say nothing to anyone. Jesus was not about glorifying himself and making himself famous, but he was about His Father’s work.
In the world of Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms for sharing, we have focused so much on getting as many likes, views, shares, comments, and attention as possible. This is not to say that these platforms are evil. But just like a hammer, knife, screwdriver or gun, these social media platforms are tools.
Six years ago, there were 93 million selfies taken every single day, just on Android devices. In the world-changing year of 2020, there were 1.43 trillion pictures taken! Even though I am a young person, I couldn’t believe the number was that high. For perspective, there were 85 billion physical photos in 2000! There truly has never been a generation more self-absorbed than the one alive today! The first picture was taken in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. He probably never imagined what the future held for photography.
But it’s amazing that in this era of self-absorption and self-glorification, we are experiencing a mental-health epidemic that has never been seen before. We as humans, in the most advanced world ever, are feeling worse than any previous generation that has lived. You would think that as obsessed people are with themselves now, people would be feeling like they are on top of the world. But as it says in the Gospel of Matthew, anyone who tries to exalt himself or herself will be humbled.
Jesus gives a parable in Luke 18 about two men with very different opinions of themselves and two very different agendas. One of these men is boasting about how he is “better” than everyone else and proceeds to list off his deeds. The other man is contrite and simply asks God for forgiveness and mercy. Which one do you think Jesus spoke highly of?
The Bible warns us in Proverbs, Romans and 1 Corinthians to not be wise in our own eyes. We as a society are too obsessed with ourselves, from seeking approval and attention from others to taking obscene numbers of pictures of ourselves. And we have paid the price for it. Psalm 96 tells us that the Lord is great and greatly to be praised. It doesn’t say that you and I are great and deserve to be praised.
Until we stop giving ourselves glory and seeking glory from others, we will never be content. We will never be satisfied. When we honor God and seek to glorify Him and praise Him, the overall satisfaction of our lives will greatly improve.
Solomon Green is a Contributor at Merion West and the host of the podcast "One More Thing With Solo Green". His writings and podcast mostly focus on Culture and Politics. To send in your questions, comments, podcast topic suggestions, or business inquiries, you can best reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.