A Common Theme - Selfishness in Society?

United States
January 13, 2007 9:38am CST
The more I watch the news and the more I see of commercials today, it seems to me that the general direction of humanity is being moved into the realm of selfishness. They seem to focus on "what I deserve" as opposed to thinking about others first. I truly believe that this selfishness in society causes a breakdown that helps bring crime into the world - think about how much better life would be if we thought of others first - cases of road rage would be non-existant beause everyone would be thinking about others on the road with them. Senseless acts of violence would be curbed because people wouldn't be so concerned with what they want...what do you think? Do you see a general increase in the selfishness of society and can you give me examples?
5 people like this
15 responses
@feralcat (426)
• Canada
13 Jan 07
Douglas Coupland wrote a book that somehow deals with the "I" generation. I think the focus to self has been growing stronger sice the early to mid 90's and we do live in a "self" world but there are many out there who don't fall into this "selfish" self-centered attitude. We only need to look around and we will see that there are people who devote themselves and time to causes and who will help any way they can.
2 people like this
• United States
13 Jan 07
I would have to agree with that - I know many people who are not selfish and devote their time to great causes...maybe that IS the key - focusing on the good instead of the bad.
1 person likes this
@clownfish (3277)
• United States
14 Jan 07
Hi! The seventies was the "Me" generation. I'm not sure society ever moved out of it, we just have better ways of diguising it! :-)
@carolynpb (647)
• United States
13 Jan 07
I agree with you. There is so much selfishness in the world and it leads to violence. One example is doing whatever you want to no matter who it hurts. I see that alot. When I was growing up and through my teen years and even now..I have always tried to be polite. Like if someone is waiting in line like me and they don't have much stuff I'll let them go ahead of me. But I have seen people almost knock each other down trying to get in the line first and they will have a huge cart full of stuff while the person they almost ran down had only 3 or 4 items. Fights can break out over stuff like that. Alot of wrecks are caused by someone being selfish, like a long line of cars are behind you and you're just sitting there anyway and someone is sitting to your right needing to get in and you won't let them in, and sometimes the person who wants in goes ahead and pulls out as far as they can and you get right up on them like you're going to hit them...that is selfishness. I mean what's the big deal? you're just sitting there waitng anyway. It makes me feel good to let someone in, give them a break. but wrecks often happen because of stuff like that.
2 people like this
• United States
13 Jan 07
And that's what's so frustrating! When you get right down to it, did that selfless act of letting someone in front of you REALLY waste any more time? I mean, maybe if you get caught at a light or something, but in most cases, you still get there the exact same time the other person does. And the shopping thing is a big one for me, too...especially in Wal-Mart - that place is getting crazy these days and it's all because people are in too much of a hurry. But how can you teach a society to be more selfless for the good of the whole? I wonder how much capatalism has to do with in way of influence...you have to be better than the person next to you to get ahead in the world. I don't know - how do you teach people patience??
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Jan 07
I agree with you..we are a society that is moving into a me, me, me generation..I have had people close to me even say "look out for number one" Well Number one for me is God..and number two is his people..number three is me! It is media, society and other influences that is forming people into just me people...no room for anyone else but me.. What would the world be like, however, with just me????+
• United States
15 Jan 07
The interesting thing about that, I have found, is this: I completely agree with your order of priorities - God, family, others - but there are churches and leaders in churches who will manipulate your selflessness for their selfish gain. I've seen it hundreds of times in being in leadership in churches (I've been a worship leader for a good while now). They will say you need to sacrifice this and sacrifice that for the good of the church, while the pastor makes a HUGE salary off of the offering plate. It's sad - and I truly believe that these will be judged just as harshly for their deception and manipulation. But that's another soap box for me for another discussion later *grin*.
@nuffsed (1274)
14 Jan 07
I posted a wonderful long answer to this and lost it through the annoying software filter thing... GGggrrrrr I'll come back later perhaps. GGGrrrrr
• United States
15 Jan 07
*laugh* I'm so sorry! I hate when stuff like that happens...I come up with my best thoughts off the cuff and then the computer does something funky to lose my answer...that bites *grin*.
@sharon613 (2323)
• United States
14 Jan 07
Right now I have two adult kids who I'm constantly fighting with over the computer, I just told my 20 year old to go out and get his own. Call that selfish I don't know!
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Jan 07
*laugh* Now in that situation, they DO need to go out and buy their own *grin*. I feel for you on that one!! :D
• Thailand
14 Jan 07
I highly recommend you read Ayn Rand's book 'Atlas Shrugged'. It will give you a whole new outlook on what is selfish and what is not. The book can be summed up with the creed of John Galt, the main character in the book. "I swear-by my life and my love of it-that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine." If we all followed this path there would be far fewer problems in this world.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Jan 07
That's an interesting quote indeed - can I ask this - is he suggesting that we live isolated lives then? Where we don't depend on one another for anything? Or am I reading too much into the statement? I like that quote, but I can see how it could possibly encourage individualism when humans are made in such a way that they crave human interaction in some form. Can you explain a bit more? I think I will check that book out - thanks!
• Iraq
13 Jan 07
Well sarahbeth not everyone is alike. There are many people out there who think of others before they think of themselves. But you have to understand, that usually the people that are being thought of are ungrateful. When you have this ungratefullness happening more then once to the same person, that person becomes enclosed in his or her own world. Losses the sense of hope. People are tired of giving and not receiving. You should think of yourself first. If you are not stable yourself how are you going to help others. Road rage can be caused by anything. A person driving the speed limit can be the cause of the road rage just because you have some where to be and you are late. People have to look at themselves first. good topic
1 person likes this
• United States
14 Jan 07
I agree that not everyone is alike - the world would be a horrible place if we weren't different. But there was a time when there was more curtousy and general selflessness, but people began to take advantage of that - and like you mentioned, became cold and suspicious. I can see that - and I agree that it takes a very stable person to be able to help others - but I know that when I stop and help others, it helps get my mind off of myself and makes me realize that things aren't so bad - that I'm not alone, and that we all have something to offer, and somewhere, EVERYONE has been hurt somehow. Maybe everyone just needs a few minutes on the psychiatry couch...
@shywolf (4520)
• United States
13 Jan 07
I agree, and I too find it really sad. I don't understand how hard it is to take the time to try to see things from someone else's point of view. I am constantly doing this. I can't seem to help it. We all as human beings should be more sensitive to other people's feelings. I guess that it is because I am a very sensitive soul myself that I can't help but want to look out for other's feelings and not tread on them. It is so hard for me to watch someone else be in pain. I would so much rather see people around me happy. That is one of the greatest joys in life for me. I wish that more people out there felt like I do. It would be a happier world, methinks, if they did. ^_^ And by the way, I know that I am no saint *laugh* I have many, many faults. I just think that humankind as a whole should think more about the people around them. ^_^
• United States
14 Jan 07
I wonder how much of this is a maturing process, though? To be able to put away your own emotions and seeing things through your perception to be able to see it from another's point of view? They talk about that being the last stage in brain development in developmental psychology...at least I THINK I remember that from college *grin*...but if someone suffers some kind of traumatic experience, I wonder if their growth into that selfless realm is stunted somehow?
• India
14 Jan 07
being selfish is not wrong , but u must be awre of others too..... u shud not harm others by being selfcentric... today its very hard to find aperson who doesnt thnk of him ....
• India
14 Jan 07
Being selfish is an animal instinct. Human is also an animal. Hence selfishness cannot be absolutely avoided (biological compulsion and trait). Scarcity increases selfishness. Artifical scarcity arises due to selfishness. Thus you have a vicious circle. The State and the Society has to first overcome the natural, seasonal (and similar) scarcities. Artificial scarcity arising out of selfishness needs psychological and psychiatric counselling.
• United States
15 Jan 07
But the difference between humans and animals is that we can CHOOSE whether or not we act on that selfishness. Animals are driven by instincts or they do not survive - we, on the other hand, have the ability to analyze information and make a choice as to how we react.
• India
14 Jan 07
try asking on yahoo answer coz here people only give fake infos for money
• United States
15 Jan 07
*laugh* well, maybe - but I've tried asking the same questions on yahoo answers, and people didn't respond to the questions at all...they seem more interested in talking about the lyrics to certain songs and whether people should be dating the people they are dating. But thanks for the suggestion!
@multisubj (451)
• India
14 Jan 07
Capitalist society is money centred. A person has to earn maximum money in the shortest possible time. The society will not bother how you earned. It will bother how much you earned. Even if you are a great intellectual on par with Einstein or Madam Curie, it matters little. You have to convert everything into moolah. Whoever has lucre rules the world. Not the one with the longest mustaches. Marxism, we have to try afresh with suitable modifications, for removing the "MONEY" altogether and the inherited private property. Thirst money should go somehow.
• United States
15 Jan 07
But something else would replace the money - no matter what we do, because of human nature, someone will always want to be "on top" - there will always be someone who is greedy and/or power hungry. Therefore, taking from the rich and giving to the poor will never work - there will always be that feeling of, "I earned this and they didn't" unless of course they're allowed to give it because they choose to. I know I keep blaming things on a capatalistic society, but I'm very much in favor of capatalism - but is selflessness something that can be taught? We teach our children to share toys, so why not?
@kathy77 (7488)
• Australia
14 Jan 07
Yes it does seem this way with today's society, and it certainly does bring crime into our society you are right about that, well I know that were I used to live in housing department run by our government and there were lots of people that had jobs, money and cars of there own while there are others that have nothing no where to live it is not right and it is very selfish of these people not caring about the other people suffering and not caring about others, where are they supposed to live on the street, to me this is selfishness as the other people can certainly afford to live outside of the government help and housing.
• United States
14 Jan 07
I would have to agree with this - they are taking advantage of the system...which brings up the age old debate - do you help someone even though you know they're going to misuse the money, or do you not help them and let them suffer until they come to their senses? Or can you put requirements on the help, in hopes of teaching the person a better way? Beginning to sound like our current welfare system to anyone?
@lingli_78 (12844)
• Australia
14 Jan 07
yes i do agree with you that our society is getting more and more selfish compare to in the past... obvious example like in my country, people don't really want to care more about other people's business even though we are neighbours... let alone that, we even hardly greet talk or greet each other even though we live next to each other... i think it is because our world is getting more and more modernised now and the competition to survive in this world is increasing... that's why people is getting more and more selfish...
• United States
14 Jan 07
That's a good point - we're too busy competing and trying to stay ahead in the world to survive...survival of the fittest type idea. It's an interesting thought - I do think it's sad that we don't stop to talk to people anymore. We've become so closed off now-a-days.
@dravid (1050)
• India
14 Jan 07
yes selfishness is what society has in it alot.....i dont say it is bad really...becuase if you are not selfish you cant live in tis world.....you got tothink about yourself or you will die...can you imagine you being not ay all selfish...what will happen you will donate all your property to the poor...no way i am a bit sefish person and that is very necessary to keep me alive
• United States
14 Jan 07
Mother Teresa made it okay by doing that...I'm not saying that we all have to do that, though - I'm simply saying stopping to think about others first would help make things a bit easier. If we'd not jump to conclusions and actually put ourselves in the other person's shoes, maybe things wouldn't be so bad. For the waitress who treats us rudely, why treat her badly back? She had probably just been chewed out by someone undeservingly and was too upset to not be able to strike out at the next person. I wish we could just learn to give people the benefit of the doubt instead of immediately reacting in return with anger.
• United States
13 Jan 07
A large part of this perception is do to the advertizing, sells culture financing the mass media. Get away from it and real people can be found.