Snarky Behavior

The Self-Entitled Generation

October 5, 2007 · 3 Comments

Ok, I’ll bite.

Boston Globe writes article on “The New Me Generation.” Says young people are narcissistic and over-value their own opinions and intelligence, the result of being coddled during the “self-esteem” boom of the hippie child-rearing era. Quotes “professor” from San Diego State to prove this thesis.

(Let the record show: this is a professor from the same university that sent out a press release for its record high graduation rate — at 57%. And yes I can bash on the Aztecs since both of my parents were grads. It might be the only university on the planet where people come out dumber than they already were coming in. Well, maybe Chico too.)

I used to really be into generational studies that categorized large swaths of people into one sweeping evolutionary movement. It made me feel as if I were part of a some sort of historical progression. Like my friends and I were on the cusp of distinguishing our collective legacy.

Not any more. That stuff is all crap. Let me explain:

One thing you learn as a writer (er… blogger) is that, given time constraints and writer’s block, it sometimes becomes very difficult to write anything of insightful substance. So you make something up.

One thing you learn as a student (er… yeah, student!) is how to recognize weak arguments and lazy research. (Note: It’s usually your own).

One thing you learn as a young person entering a work-force hyper-saturated with baby-boomers that should’ve retired five to ten years ago is that old people love to think that they know what makes the young Turks tick. That’s why the eat up these “What’s With Kids Today???” pieces.

These types of quasi-social science articles are no different from my BS blog posts, aside from the fact that they quote people to substantiate their claims, whereas my arguments are self-substantiating because I’m a self-entitled, narcissistic, genius.

It is quite possible that the boomer generation, having lived through a tumultuous period themselves, in which they were distinctly defined by homogeneous characteristics, and having today aged in such a way that they are one big moving bio-mass of Merril Lynch targeted advertising, can only conceptualize its proceeding generations in categorical terms.

If that’s the case, let me set the record straight: young people are diverse. They are smarter than ever, but in many ways they are more ignorant than ever. We aren’t self-entitled because we were coddled, but because our parents never gave us the same opportunity to screw-up that they had. The kids quoted in this Globe article undoubtedly were placed on the fast track to success from day 1, in what I’ve called the “hyperbaric chamber” of pressure, applying to colleges, participating in “resume boosting” extracurriculars to make them “well-rounded.” From day 1, we’ve learned to game the system.

Moreover, we live in an age of information, and we’re consumers of it. We’re more socially networked than our parents. We are much more comfortable with technology, and the tradeoffs of privacy. So in that sense, we certainly share some traits.

However, we also live in a long-tail environment. Cable television gives us hundreds of options of sub-divided mass culture from which we can choose to identify with. We are in many ways too diverse to categorize.

So sure, while there may be some “go-getting” narcissistic self-entitled douchebags out there, they are certainly not random or representative of an entire generation. They are just the most ostensibly obnoxious, and easily accessible (for reasons of self-promotion) to lazy journalists looking to get quote-substantiation for their hack-pieces.

Ugh.

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