I know that there are lots of smarter people than I who have asked this or similar questions in the recent past. Actually, I expect that this kind of question has been asked throughout much of human history. Despite how easy it is to find or express an opinion these days, I can't say that I've ever seen an answer that I was totally comfortable with.
First, let me be clear about some definitions. Values, to me, are not the same as morals or morality. Values represent those things that you hold as incorruptable standards in your own soul. The things I value can never be exactly like yours because each of us brings our unique life's story to frame our definition. Values aren't (or don't need to be) complex.
Morals, on the other hand, are a reflection of an intricate mosaic of our experiences, what we were taught at home and at school, how we see faith in our lives, our personal tastes and, of course, those things which we rationalize to assuage any guilt we may feel for behaving in a manner contrary to any of the above. Morals declare how we see right and wrong.
Regardless of our own definition of our morals, all of us have them--though we may not recognize them as such. Values, on the other hand, don't seem to be required of us any longer. Increasingly we find that young adults are less focused on standards of behavior than they are with self-gratification. In our earnest push to promote individuality we have instead created multiple levels of indifference tinged with self-serving. There are fewer numbers of selfless acts of kindness and declining numbers of personal commitments to stand for anything more than materialism.
Our society needs to get its arms around these issues, despite their potential for hyperbole and sensationalism. If we do not stand for something then we will surely fall for anything. I'll begin with a declaration that the things I value are accountability, integrity and respect. I believe that to be accountable means that you are willing to accept and own the consequences of the decisions you make--good and bad. Integrity speaks to our consistency in doing what we say we'll do (not to be confused with making deadlines so much as establishing appropriate expectations of what a realistic deadline might be). Respect is, perhaps, the easiest value to hold but not as easily practiced. Respect is something we all want from others unconditionally, yet we insist that others must earn our respect for them. There is an element of quid pro quo to our views on respect, rather than abiding by the idea that every human being has worth.
I concede that I am perhaps a bit too old-fashioned (or unhip, if you prefer). I have no illusions that everything used to be better "back in the day". Still, I'm afraid that we have lost the ability to evolve and nuance our thinking, preferring instead to make 180 degree turns that draw lots of attention to us, not all of it helpful.
For myself, I can't afford to not have an active values perspective. I was brought up to stand for things, popular or not, while keeping my mind open to new ideas, experiences and, yes, thinking. Values still matter to me. How about you?