The new gratitude compares good circumstances with conceivable poor circumstances. The circumstances are at least as good as they are, because they could be worse. When things seem bad, the subject thinks about how bad they could be. Upon comparison, he expresses gratitude to no one, which is the recognition that things could be worse.
What or who brought the preferred conditions of the new gratitude? Was it God? Was it parents? Why can't the subject say where the good things came from? Does he know?
The new gratitude bifurcates truth in contradiction to a Christian worldview into the secular and the sacred, the private and the public. Here is public gratitude that cannot include God, because God is relegated to the sacred, which is private. If someone can't mention God or Jesus, then he cannot be grateful to God or Jesus. He's just grateful. This is public, secular gratitude for a bifurcated world.
In Romans 1, Paul describes the lost or the apostate as, "neither were they thankful." They know God though and glorify Him not as God. Everyone made in the image of God knows He has God for which to be thankful. He knows this. Gratitude makes sense to everyone, so why can't God receive gratitude? This would require mentioning God. This would require some kind of commitment to God. If someone says, "Thank God," then it seems that he owes God something. He would know, of course, that he owes God everything, but he doesn't want to give God everything. He wants to live for himself, which is why he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness.
An underlying rebellion separates gratitude from God. Yes, God is the object of gratitude. He should be. Parents should be up there, a ways below Him, but next in order. Children, and I see it in millennials especially, can't thank their parents either, because that reads as a commitment to listen to parents, to communicate the thought that they owe their parents something. They do. Scripture is very clear here. They don't want to feel the guilt of ingratitude toward God or parents, so they separate gratitude from an object.
I wrote above that the new gratitude is a game, maybe better, like a game. The goal of new gratitude is the feelings, the internal calm of the subject. The subject could focus on the problems, the loss, the emptiness, failure, or pain, and feel the wave of futility overwhelm him. Instead, he looks at the good things, and he feels better about it. He's got it better than he could or might have it. He should feel good. It helps him to feel good. No one, however, gets the credit for it. In a sense, as I wrote above, he's giving himself the credit for it or good luck, which I like to call, "Thank my lucky stars." It really isn't gratitude, because it is selfish.
The repulsion with commitment to the source of goodness detaches the subject from an object of gratitude. He or she "built" a business with no mention of those who paid and sacrificed for almost everything he or she needed. He or she drove someone else's car to get there, who also paid the insurance and for all the repairs. He or she got into college. Sure. He or she made it. The subject is grateful -- no object. Nothing about God. Nothing about those who did a hundred things for the subject to get in. The recognition, the acknowledgement, of an object means obligation and commitment.
Selfishness and gratitude sound or seem contradictory. They are. They are the opposite. Someone who is not grateful to God or anyone else, including parents, isn't grateful. He is lying to himself and everyone else.
Despite the selfishness of the new gratitude, it is still accepted as a legitimate gratitude by those who also do not want commitment to God or any possible authority. They block out the source of their good things. It is God. They block Him out. They are refusing a relationship with the One who gives them these good things.
Professing believers are some of the main culprits of the new gratitude. What's happening? They are afraid of professing faith in Christ. God hasn't given us the spirit of fear. Perfect love casts out fear. They aren't loving Jesus. They don't want to exclude unbelievers, when they should. They should boldly let unbelievers know that God deserves their gratefulness. That is a move toward the gospel and salvation. They are risking the eternal destiny of others to continue in good relations with unbelievers. This is a form of love for the world that is incongruous with true Christianity. They don't want the commitment that accompanies stating or acknowledging an object of their gratitude. They have their own goals and they don't want their objects of gratitude to get in the way of their own goals. This is part of their selfishness.
God will be fine without gratitude. He deserves it, but gratitude can't add to God. He will always be complete. Others who deserve it, like parents, could be encouraged by expressions of gratitude. I get why children won't give it. They see commitment as a tie to gratitude. Instead, the children take the credit for their own lives in a very selfish manner. I don't know what to call this, but sick and pathetic come to mind. The accurate term is rebellious. If someone is really thankful, he feels, and rightfully so, an obligation to listen and obey with either God or some other authority, who has given and given to the ungrateful.
The new gratitude isn't gratitude at all.