How many times have you heard that newer generations are self-centered, egoistic, self-focused, self-obsessed, self-absorbed (etc.)?
My friend, Maja, used to say that if you don’t have numbers backing your theory up, it means it’s a bullshit (sorry for a word, it’s a quote). I agree. Most of the times, at least.
People rate statements that have been repeated just once as more valid or true than things they’ve heard for the first time. They even rate statements as truer when the person saying them has been repeatedly lying
Begg et al., 19921
That’s interesting, right? How often do you repeat something you have heard without even thinking if it’s true? Does it makes sense?
Do you think, newer generations are any more self-centered than the ones before them? I think I can guess the answer. On what basis? I’ve talked about this with at least 20 people and everyone was sure that statement, which I put above, is true.
Ok, so, as Maja would say, let’s find some numbers.
1. There is no correlation between generation and features like: egotism, self-enhancement, individualism, self-esteem. It means: no, Generation Me is no more egoistic or self-focused than any other generation before us.
2. Data shows clearly, that indicators of being lonely, miserable, antisocial or helpless are also stable, they do not change over the next generations. I find it very interesting when we put this data next to statistics about the suicidal rate, that is rapidly growing, from 10,9 in 2005 to 12,93 in 2014 (data for the United States; X for 100k individuals). The biggest group among suicides are a man in middle-age. Does it mean problem occurs later than in college? I will leave this question open.
3. “Today’s youth are less fearful of social problems than previous generations and they are also more cynical and less trusting.” I find this statement interesting. Is there a correlation between being “cynical” and “less trusting”? I believe there is, though take it only as my opinion. I base it on personal experience: yet few years ago I was completely unbearable, I was a little cynical creature with a huge amount of complexes. Now, looking from a distance, I see that my behaviour was a way of dealing with them.
4. Every generation is Generation Me. Let me quote, as I couldn’t put this in a better way: “age changes in narcissism are both replicable and comparatively large in comparison to generational changes in narcissism”. What does it mean? Every generation of younger people is more narcissistic that their elders. It is a fact. Being even more concrete: you – as a 20yo were as much self-obsessed as I am right now.
5. It is almost impossible to define what are the factors standing behind the fact, that we are getting less narcissistic with age. Is it a cultural or social changes? We don’t have an answer to that yet.
So – Generation Me, breath! You may be as much self-focused as you only want! That’s your time to behave this way.
But… why do we came up with the idea that Millennials are any more self-focused than other generations? As there are no researches, let me made two logical conclusions:
1. Social media – we see more these days. We have now ways to be exhibitionists. We take selfies, we share our private moments, we are constantly visible. We do not only make relations from the past – we’re going live with Periscope and now Facebook Live. Social media are most likely to use among young adults (almost 90% of young adults in the US uses social media). So it’s natural people think we are more self-centered than them. Is taking a selfie example of being vain [https://hec.su/dIGz]? Come on…
2. Taboo subjects are not taboo anymore. We learned as the society that talking about feelings and other intimate things is not wrong. It’s good, and at the same time – it may give a feeling that younger generations are more self-focused, though we are only being open.
Ok, guess that’s it. So what are the final conclusions? We talk more about ourselves, though it doesn’t mean we are more self-absorbed than any elder generation. We simply have new tools that we’re using. Second important thing – narcissus is something common among young adults. We’re growing up from it.
Yet this week I will publish the last part of Generation Me series, about relationships – stay tunned 🙂
Sources: https://hec.su/dfMc; https://hec.su/dfMg; https://hec.su/dfMh; https://hec.su/dIGz