I'm not old enough to know when it began, but I can look around and tell you that the "victim mentality" is now everywhere. When I say victim mentality, I mean the tendency of people to not accept even the most obvious responsibility for their actions (or inactions), and to believe that what has happened to them is everyone else's fault and out of their control.
I see it all the time, and it's quite pervasive. I notice it as the root cause of so much drama and conflict. Let me give you a couple examples.
Recently, the mothers of Boy Scouts in my scout troop have begun sending these emails around about how "frustrated" they are that they are not being contacted with information about scout activities. For those of you who don't know, Boy Scouts is a boy-run organization. The boys themselves are responsible for organizing and running the troop. If information is not making it home, it's because their child didn't tell them, or that the boy leaders didn't tell the other boys (which happens, but less often). What's the point of sending an email to other adults about being frustrated? It's obviously other people's fault that they didn't get their dose of information. Why not just pick up a phone or a keyboard and ask a question to someone who knows?
Practically every student has gotten a failing grade from some teacher that "just didn't like me". While I find it hard to believe that there is so much student-hatred going around, I'm sure teachers don't like some students. However, "not liking me" is not a reasonably adequate explanation of any such situation, since it makes it sound like some unprovoked event. Whether it's something you said, a way you act, some belief you hold, or your choice of interests, it's something specific about you that they don't like. Knowing what that turning point was is critical, since you undoubtedly caused it somehow.
Several years ago, a woman driving a car and holding a hot cup of McDonald's coffee in her lap was burned. I don't argue that having hot coffee spilled in your crotch must suck. But not accepting responsibility for your actions in such a situation seems incomprehensible. If you get a moving vehicle, an inherently unstable situation, and you try to carefully hold a cup of hot coffee tightly between your legs, you should expect the possibility of spilling it on yourself. Yet when it happened, the blame went straight to McDonald's, who supposedly was at fault because they didn't communicate clearly enough that coffee is hot.
The reason the victim mentality is so dangerous, is that it creates a mindset that sets you up for failure. As a "victim", the world acts ON YOU. You got the bad grade because the teacher didn't like you... you aren't able to participate in Boy Scouts because nobody filled you in. The victim is not empowered to act. However, the opposite of the victim, the "aggressor", acts ON THE WORLD. If he gets a bad grade, it's because he pissed off the teacher... tracing the effect back to the cause that was under his control. The aggressor is empowered. If the world is not the way he wants it, the aggressor figures out what variables he controls and actively works to shift the situation in his favor.
The victim keeps very busy blaming others, and is unable to learn from the events because they happened without any of their control. When something happens, it's just bad luck or an evil nemesis. It's really a sad state, because it must be terrifying to be so lacking in confidence as a dangerous world whirls around you.
The aggressor is able to constantly consider their impact on the his surroundings. He will accept responsibility for the chain of events, and learn from his mistakes. He will actively change the world around him, using variables he has control of to effect that change, or using the variables he has control of to influence other variables he does not. And this will all happen while the victim laments their terrible circumstances.