Is this the most narcissistic generation we've ever seen?
The headline of the attached article only re-iterated what our clients have been sharing with us for the past ten odd years, only the criticism in recent time has accelerated.
We have witnessed behaviours noted first hand and I can tell you, giving authentic feedback to some of these spoilt brats does not always work.
The honest question to ask in this dilemma is how did it ever come to this? Who promoted an environment that allowed this to happen in the first place?
And please , before I am told it’s complex and any other politically correct weasel language, it still does not explain the sutuation we are in. We need to address the causes as well as the symptons if we are serious about transformation and our futures.
Enjoy the following story.
Is this the most narcissistic generation we’ve ever seen?
Wendy Squires | The Age | April 20, 2013
The following I’m assured is a true story, although I wish it wasn’t.
Several months ago, a 48-year-old single mother informed her two teenage children that the cancer in her breast had returned, more aggressive than ever.
She had no idea how they would react, so wasn’t surprised when her stunned son asked incredulously, ”What does this mean?”
”I’ll tell you what it means,” her daughter interjected angrily. ”It means we’re not going to Fiji for Easter!”
Now, if you’re anything like me, you are probably contemplating the many ways in which you would suggest to that girl that she get a grip. But some of you are also possibly cringing, aware that that teen could be yours. Because today, such a display of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is no longer an anomaly in teenagers, it is beginning to be the norm.
”Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration,” the Mayo Clinic says. ”Those with NPD believe they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings.”
Common symptoms it lists are: fantasising about power, success and attractiveness; expecting constant praise and admiration; believing that you’re special and acting accordingly; failing to recognise other people’s emotions and feelings; expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior; being jealous of others and vice versa; being easily hurt and rejected, and; appearing as tough-minded or unemotional.
Before I go on, yes, this could be viewed as another Gen Y bashing piece full of stereotypes and broad generalisations. And no, I do not believe all teenagers have NPD. I agree hormonal changes play havoc with teenagers, always have. Emotional development is still in play and there are good, solid, grounded, generous, empathetic, humble and inspirational kids out there doing their best. But surely you’d agree they’re getting harder to find?
The American authors of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement, Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, write that the US is suffering badly.
Citing data from 37,000 college students, they discovered that narcissism rates rose just as fast as obesity from the 1980s to now.
Australia is following suit. My girlfriends and I have coined our own term for the syndrome: severe narcissism overcoming teenagers, or SNOT. We give points for spotting SNOTs, sullen types slouching over their phones bored with the company they’re keeping or sulking in restaurants, indignant at having to endure fine dining with their parents yet again. They’re the ones who state their ambition is to be a Big Brother contestant. They’re the work experience kids expecting to go straight to the corner office. They’re mugging for whatever camera is closest – usually their own – then posting their selfies on line. They are staying at home longer and staying in jobs shorter. Wanting a cool place of their own and retirement simultaneously.
Yes, they annoy me. Infuriate me even. But mostly these kids sadden me. Because they are lost and don’t even realise it. They don’t know how to find themselves because they don’t know how or where to look. They have been told they can be anything they want, and in the process, lost the sense of being happy with who they are.
There is no app for life experience. We can’t all be good-looking, rich, famous, successful – and now! Some of us have to run at the back of the pack and not expect a ribbon. But it appears a generation has missed this message, not just striving to get over the line first, but expecting it.
The Australian psychologist and author of Working with Mean Girls, Meredith Fuller, is only too aware of the endemic of SNOTs, and despairs daily in her practice as to what is to become of them.
”It’s like the kids want everyone to go clap, clap, clap over everything they do all the time,” she says. ”They are not achieving for their sense of self. It’s for the applause and approval of others. It means no one is really content, because it’s impossible for everyone to clap all the time. They don’t seem to grasp the reality we don’t need everyone to clap. Just a few are good – a partner, parents, godmother or whatever. It doesn’t need to be your 17,000 friends on Facebook.”
Twenge and Campbell also fear the generation now entering the workforce is unprepared to face the reality that they are not the centre of everyone’s universe – just their own. ”They got trophies for just showing up as kids, but as adults many of them might be struggling just to find a job,” they write. ”The culture of the last few decades has not prepared this generation for the challenges they will face.”
There is no quick solution to NPD, but a good start is for parents and adults to take a more active role in SNOTs’ lives. ”Gen Y is not getting enough time with a varied age range of people,” Fuller says. ”They aren’t hearing about the benefits of these mysterious things we talk about, like kindness, manners and commitment and gratitude. It has no currency for them. They just don’t get it because they don’t see it.”
Twenge and Campbell concur: ”Young people, especially from wealthy families, should be encouraged to do some difficult work in order to learn humility, compassion, the link between work and play, and the value of the dollar. Such work would teach young people a sense of connection to those who make careers of these jobs, rather than a vague sense of superiority over them.
”One of the best ways to combat entitlement is to be grateful for what you already have,” they conclude. ”Gratitude is the opposite of entitlement. You think about what you already have, instead of what you deserve to have but don’t.”
Wise words, worth encouraging teenagers to pull their earphones out long enough to listen to.
©2013 The Age | This article first appeared in The Age on 20 April 2013.
Another story on youth, make no mistakes, narcissism is associated with going broke: