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Recent research has suggested that increasing number of Americans (not sure about other nationalities/cultures) born in the 1970s to early 1980s (Generation X) as well as in the 1990s (Millennials) are suffering from an epidemic of narcissism as a consequence of the emphasis placed on self-esteem and self-promotion in modern parenting and the media, and fed by Internet social networking sites (like Personality Café) that reinforce an obsessive need for admiration and ego-enhancement (see also most recent reality TV shows – particularly egregious is My Super Sweet 16 on MTV). Indeed, some researchers have grouped these cohorts into a single cohort, labeling it “Generation Me” (See Twenge & Campbell 2009 The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement). In 2007, 60 Minutes focused on the work ethic and expectations of Millennials…money quote: “You now have a generation coming into the workplace that has grown up with the expectation that they will automatically win, and they'll always be rewarded, even for just showing up” (The "Millennials" Are Coming - 60 Minutes - CBS News).

Let’s define narcissism. Social psychologists argue that narcissists are characterized by (1) a positive and inflated view of the self, especially on agentic traits (e.g., power, importance, physical attractiveness); (2) typically display social extraversion, although people high in narcissism have relatively little interest in forming warm, emotionally intimate bonds with others; (3) employ a wide range of self-regulation efforts aimed at enhancing the self (e.g., attention seeking, taking credit from others, seeking high-status romantic partners, and searching for opportunities to achieve public glory). Further, those high in narcissism also tend to lash out with aggression when they are rejected or insulted. In sum, narcissism can be conceptualized as a self-regulating system, where self-esteem and enhancement are sought through a variety of social means but with little regard for the consequences borne by others (Narcissism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

I would like to open this up for discussion with the following questions in mind:

Are newer generational Americans more narcissistic in their view of self, deserving the label “Generation Me”?

Do social networking sites (and blogs) promote narcissism?

Do you think that the “self-esteem” movement does more harm than good?
 

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I would like to open this up for discussion with the following questions in mind:

Do social networking sites (and blogs) promote narcissism?

Do you think that the “self-esteem” movement does more harm than good?[/FONT]
Well that depends. Everyone has some narcissism in them, otherwise you will be considered psychologically ill. It's the occasional sense of superiority. Nothing wrong with it. But of course that depends on how you define narcissism. From a psychological point of view, narcissism is actually pretty good, provided you are already accomplished to begin with. An inflated ego coupled with incompetence is your worst nightmare. Anyway, I find narcissism a form of psychological reassurance. Confidence is an important factor in essentially everything you do. Probably that's why competent narcissists are more difficult to deal with as compared to a equally competent non-narcissist person. All I see in social networking is promoting ' cyber propaganda ' and probably some PR. Lol.
 

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a positive and inflated view of the self, especially on agentic traits (e.g., power, importance, physical attractiveness); (2) typically display social extraversion, although people high in narcissism have relatively little interest in forming warm, emotionally intimate bonds with others; (3) employ a wide range of self-regulation efforts aimed at enhancing the self (e.g., attention seeking, taking credit from others, seeking high-status romantic partners, and searching for opportunities to achieve public glory
Nice. Vague. How do you measure this? How do you "over-value" yourself? I think a little bit of overvaluing is probably healthy - seeing the grim reality of one's existence hurts a lot. And what is wrong with social extraversion? And what is wrong with wanting high-status partners? Taking credit from others is less nice, but that's something that history is made off.


Why am I even dignifying this with a response?
 

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Why am I even dignifying this with a response?
Because it deserves consideration.

I had a similar discussion with coworkers yesterday morning surrounding the recent election results in the US. (There has been a significant backlash against the President's party as a result of the continuing economic crisis, among other things.) One gentleman made the bold statement that the day we ended the draft was the day we set the stage for the mess we are in now. His reasoning: GenXers have lost touch with the idea of service.

Baby Boom parents didn't want their children to experience the horrors they saw inherent in military conflict so they encouraged their kids to go to college and get jobs instead of join the military. They encouraged their kids to be focused on themselves, on status, and on material things. (Go to school, get a good job, don't do what I did, don't settle for turning a wrench, don't be a jarhead, you can do better than me, etc.) This narcissistic focus led to a sense of entitlement which can be attributed to the inflated credit market and subsequent collapse. We were not satisfied with a humble existence and so sought the means, any means, to greater status and luxury. A long cycle of self-centered focus, from corporations seeking to make greater profits for demanding shareholders to moms who wanted the safest most posh vehicles for their babies, resulted in an initially booming economy then, as jobs were outsourced to allow for greater profits, collapse.

Perhaps if we had been encouraged to serve something greater than ourselves, we would have been able to mitigate, even avoid, much of our current situation. A sense of self-sacrifice for the greater good, of being responsible for and to other people, is a vital character trait that is missing in my generation.

(I am NOT suggesting that military service, conscripted or voluntary, is necessary to develop that awareness. It is just one avenue.)
 

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Perhaps if we had been encouraged to serve something greater than ourselves, we would have been able to mitigate, even avoid, much of our current situation. A sense of self-sacrifice for the greater good, of being responsible for and to other people, is a vital character trait that is missing in my generation.
First of all, I am very unconvinced that we have a "situation"; the comments about youth have been the same since Plato. Lazy, self-absorbed, do not care for the greater good, etc. Secondly, I doubt that forcing people to comply to the will of the State will do any good. We already have this system in place. It is called "school". If 14 years of schooling can't instill a sense of community, then why would a year of boot camp do it? And if it were to work, why not integrate it in school?

I'm not even touching the ethical hot potato of whether the State has the right to interfere with the well-being of its citizens to that extent, the practical matter of how successful States that try this are, or the ethical ramifications of sending young men and women out to a godforsaken hellhole to have their limbs blown off by an illiterate goatherder because they just happened to be born on a certain piece of soil. As for "greater than myself", I do not consider the politicians that currently mismanage my country to be greater than myself, especially the unelected Eurocrats that make more than half the rules.

So yes, I'd completely agree with your friend, I definitely won't serve an institution I have no inherent respect for.

My apologies if this seem caustic: this is a very sensitive subject for me. The idea of violating the free will of another human being, and forcing him to do things he or she does not want to do is physically abhorrent to me. I fully understand how a rational human being, reasoning from different ethical values, can come to a different conclusion, and respect your viewpoint.
 

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First of all, I am very unconvinced that we have a "situation"; the comments about youth have been the same since Plato. Lazy, self-absorbed, do not care for the greater good, etc. Secondly, I doubt that forcing people to comply to the will of the State will do any good. We already have this system in place. It is called "school". If 14 years of schooling can't instill a sense of community, then why would a year of boot camp do it? And if it were to work, why not integrate it in school?

I'm not even touching the ethical hot potato of whether the State has the right to interfere with the well-being of its citizens to that extent, the practical matter of how successful States that try this are, or the ethical ramifications of sending young men and women out to a godforsaken hellhole to have their limbs blown off by an illiterate goatherder because they just happened to be born on a certain piece of soil. As for "greater than myself", I do not consider the politicians that currently mismanage my country to be greater than myself, especially the unelected Eurocrats that make more than half the rules.

So yes, I'd completely agree with your friend, I definitely won't serve an institution I have no inherent respect for.

My apologies if this seem caustic: this is a very sensitive subject for me. The idea of violating the free will of another human being, and forcing him to do things he or she does not want to do is physically abhorrent to me. I fully understand how a rational human being, reasoning from different ethical values, can come to a different conclusion, and respect your viewpoint.
Did you perhaps miss my last line?
(I am NOT suggesting that military service, conscripted or voluntary, is necessary to develop that awareness. It is just one avenue.)
Service to something other than one's own purpose does not necessarily equate to service to the State. I, too, place strong emphasis on free will and minimal interference from the State. Service can come in the form of volunteer work within the community, within a faith-based organization, or simply being a helpful neighbor.

School, in the US, does not instill a sense of service, humility, or even a good work ethic -- all of which are missing in the GenX and Millennial culture which contributes to the rise in narcissism. The current thought in education is that all children are equally intelligent and deserving of high recognition. High schools regularly graduate multiple valedictorians. The children are told that they deserve <insert whatever child wants> because the other children are getting it. Trophies are handed out for participation, not for winning. Good grades are given because a child did the best he/she could (in the teacher's estimation) and not because the work was stellar. Adults pick up after the children, refuse to discipline them for rude behavior, and dismiss destructive attitudes because "kids will be kids" or "they only have one childhood." All of this contributes to a sense of entitlement that is the heart of the self-esteem movement the OP refers to.

You are correct that the "Lazy, self-absorbed, do not care for the greater good." This is narcissism. The OP is not concerned with the healthy sense of self-worth that is expressed in confidence and self-preservation or the justified ego of an accomplished individual. Rather, the OP is referring to the inflated and unsupported conceit of individuals who feel that the world owes them an easier life simply because their parents, the media, and the marketing gurus told them so.
 

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Did you perhaps miss my last line?
No, the issue is that if you do not make it mandatory, you won't reach the people who would benefit most from it.

School, in the US, does not instill a sense of service, humility, or even a good work ethic -- all of which are missing in the GenX and Millennial culture which contributes to the rise in narcissism. The current thought in education is that all children are equally intelligent and deserving of high recognition. High schools regularly graduate multiple valedictorians. The children are told that they deserve <insert whatever child wants> because the other children are getting it. Trophies are handed out for participation, not for winning. Good grades are given because a child did the best he/she could (in the teacher's estimation) and not because the work was stellar. Adults pick up after the children, refuse to discipline them for rude behavior, and dismiss destructive attitudes because "kids will be kids" or "they only have one childhood." All of this contributes to a sense of entitlement that is the heart of the self-esteem movement the OP refers to.
To be honest, that seems to be a US thing. Here, kids do not get that kind of treatment. Kids are segregated based on intelligence and talent at age 11, and the less intelligent ones are forced into trade school. 40% of students in high school has to redo a year, on a good high school. Basically, people without good work ethic will not go to college. You learn the price of incompetence and failure at a very early age. After a summer job cleaning crates of rotten vegetables, I knew very well that this would be my career if I didn't work my sorry ass off in uni.
 

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To be honest, that seems to be a US thing. Here, kids do not get that kind of treatment. Kids are segregated based on intelligence and talent at age 11, and the less intelligent ones are forced into trade school. 40% of students in high school has to redo a year, on a good high school. Basically, people without good work ethic will not go to college. You learn the price of incompetence and failure at a very early age. After a summer job cleaning crates of rotten vegetables, I knew very well that this would be my career if I didn't work my sorry ass off in uni.
So a tangential question would be is narcissism, as defined by the OP, unique to the American culture? Do you see similar traits in other countries?

Based on the above quote, I am inclined to think it is at least more prevalent in the US.

Are newer generational Americans more narcissistic in their view of self, deserving the label “Generation Me”?

Do social networking sites (and blogs) promote narcissism?

Do you think that the “self-esteem” movement does more harm than good?
The short answer to all three questions is yes.

I see value in social networking sites and blogs if used for a specific purpose such as promoting one's professional credentials and accomplishments. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter which focus more on advertising one's day-to-day activities put an inflated value on the poster's worth. Respondents validate the post, encouraging more posts and perpetuating the cycle. (Yes, I see the hypocrisy in this statement. I am posting on a social networking site for the purpose of getting a response.)

The self-esteem movement has liberated many individuals from situations that are harmful (e.g. abusive marriages and parents) but if taken to the extreme it results in an unjustified sense of entitlement. A high sense of self-worth is good but it needs to be balanced with values and principles that include service, compassion, and high work ethic.
 

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So a tangential question would be is narcissism, as defined by the OP, unique to the American culture? Do you see similar traits in other countries?
Western European culture is fairly homogenous, so I would suppose the issue would be less strong there. American culture has always been more individualistic. I was quite shocked at the cultural differences between Europe and the US. They were nearly as big as those between Europe and Hong Kong.

Can I ask a tangential question? Why would an individual "service" a society that take little or no care of its poor, where the question of whether people deserve basic health care is under debate, and where getting the minimum education to have a fighting chance in society puts you tens of thousands of dollars in debt? Being in the US made it acutely clear to me what would happen with an individual that loses his job and cannot find a new one. (Note that I do not wish to make any judgment about whether this is a good thing or not).

It would seem to me that such an environment would force the individual to become very competitive, as poverty and disease are never far, and only the rich can be sure they will not have this problem. At least when I was in the US, this had that impact on me. The aggressive and physically pushy beggars didn't help.

So in short: if a society has individualism as a core value, why would one expect the people to be anything but individualistic?

If I'm wrong about my assessment, please let me know. I have an outside perspective, but not enough experience with US culture to be very convinced about my points.
 

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I saw the 60 minutes piece and it was simply ageism and piss poor journalism. It explains why no one except the old people watch 60 minutes anymore. It did cause me to chuckle... the irony of the Baby Boomer generation calling Gen "Y" narcissistic.

I can turn the same ageism around on them, although I actually have more facts to support such broad worthless generalizations. Watch this:

Hell, if anything these baby boomers are the real narcissists. They don't want to admit they are the ones that screwed the United States and the global economy over. Seriously, take a good look at that generation... have they ever done anything that was not in their immediate self interest and gratification, regardless of the long term costs to the rest of society?

They inherited the United States at the peak of its dominance and power. They were gifted it from perhaps the greatest generation in U.S. history-- the WWII generation. But what did they do with it? They consumed everything in site, produced little of lasting value and have left nothing for their kids or grandkids. After doing all that, they have the nerve to call their own kids narcissistic because they can use a computer and get on facebook, and they cannot. Sounds like something a jealous narcissist would do.

These guys dodged their drafts, quit their jobs, and ran off to join their "hippie" communes, they took no thought for the day-- as long as mommy and daddy were paying the bills. They practiced free love orgies with no thought of the consequences, they did enough drugs (also with no thought of the consequences) that they could not even remember their own kids names (which were ridiculous anyway-- stuff like "Moon Child", "Bambi" and "Flower"). Did most of these women even know who the daddies of their babies even were?

Then the 80's came and as soon as someone waived a dollar in their face they sold out their value system like it was an old hat. They moved out of the commune, became yuppies and started working 70 hour weeks. Anything to make that sweet money. Their values? Well, to hell with them-- there is money to be made! These baby boomers changed political parties overnight-- cutting all the touchy-feely social programs they once championed.

The boomer's now forgotten kids, Gen X, were left to fend for themselves-- the "latch key kids". These kids did not benefit from a homemaker looking out for them the way the boomer's did-- they learned to do their own laundry and make their own dinner-- mommy was not there to do it for them, because she was too busy sucking her way up the corporate ladder or getting her 15th degree in "look how special I am as a modern woman".

As soon as they got old enough to see their own mortality they went and found Jesus. You know, a god who promises something for nothing. It is obvious why that would appeal to them. Apparently Jesus drives a big Hummer. So now, the once free love hippies, are on a crusade to prove their devotion to their new found god, as well as to fuel the big SUV's they drive around... by invading every oil producing nation in the Middle East. They sink us trillions in debt with each of these wars. Oh Praise Him! Praise Him! Will they spend money for renewable energies so that we can stop giving oil money to people attacking us? Oh... hell no. How silly! Jesus is coming soon. We don't need to worry about our grandkids! Jesus will take care of them!


And now that their lives are winding down... after all their failed marriages and broken homes, after being party to hostile business takeovers and outsourcing their kids jobs so they could make a quick buck, after thirty years of get rich quick scams... after all the wars... now they are getting ready to retire. Do they have their own money to retire on (you know since they made so much)? Can they do this outside of the social programs that they defunded?

Oh, Hell no. Of course not! Their demands on our social systems are likely going to bankrupt us. Do they wish to fix this for their kids or grandkids so they can enjoy the same benefits they once had? Oh, hell no. They want their social security and medicare and you had better not touch it, but you had also better not raise their taxes. They have ran up so much debt that they flushed the U.S. future down a toilet. Their gen "y" grandkids have no future thanks to their irresponsibility. They are like consuming locusts.

Want to spend money on education to try and give our kids a future? Try to get a referendum on that past the baby boomers in the next local election. It is not going to happen. They will bitch about no more taxes.

Yet the bankrupt leadership of this baby boomer generation thinks that Gen X and Y are narcissictic? Old Chinese proverb say: when you point a finger at someone else, three point back at you.
 

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I saw the 60 minutes piece and it was simply ageism and piss poor journalism. It explains why no one except the old people watch 60 minutes anymore. It did cause me to chuckle... the irony of the Baby Boomer generation calling Gen "Y" narcissistic.

I can turn the same ageism around on them, although I actually have more facts to support such broad worthless generalizations. Watch this:
Wonderful post! Thank you.

So, narcissism begets narcissism. It's a self-perpetuating cycle. Are we doomed to utter collapse as a nation? Is there a way out of this? Abused children become abusive parents and spouses unless they become aware of the abuse and consciously break the cycle. Are we, GenX and GenY, self-aware enough to break the cycle? I'd argue that we are not.

I drive an SUV. My daughter has a cell phone, her own computer, and an iPod. I have always worked full time outside the home. My daughter was in daycare my first day back from maternity leave. I struggle against impulsive purchases. I like nice things. Am I narcissistic? Do I want as much as I can get with as little effort as possible? Yeah, a little bit.

Are we doomed or is there a way out this hole?
 

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So, narcissism begets narcissism. It's a self-perpetuating cycle. Are we doomed to utter collapse as a nation?
Non sequitur. There is no reason to suspect narcissism begets a national collapse.
 

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Oh God, I hate the "self-esteem" movement. Not surprised at all that it's creating quasi-sociopaths.

As if kids weren't narcissistic enough....
 

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Inev1t4bl3 nails it.

The show is right, but without that big perspective it ends up being spun. On the other hand, it has been shocking to live in the U.S. and watch as the fake self-esteem movement was implemented in schools and home family life. I do feel it produced a generation of American kids without much of a conscience. It was intensive training that said as long as you pretend you are fantastic you will get whatever you want in life.

Things have changed, and there is no money now, so the parents' answer is that the children will live at home instead of having their own lives because the idea of living without an ipod, ipad, cell phone, cable T.V. and a clothes washer and dryer is unthinkable. My nieces and nephews who live in Europe are almost a different species than the teenagers here. But I was told that their American-born mother has already been telling them they should continue to live at home once they are adults.

I had a friend that told me seriously that she was proud of herself for working 2 fulltime jobs so that she could buy her kids designer shoes that other kids had. No concept of the idea of parenting or that their job as a parent is to teach the children the skills they need in order to leave home.
 

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My point is that we can all sit around and tell each other anecdotal stories and use cherry picked statistics-- to falsely convince ourselves of just about anything. It does not make it so, however.

Yes, kids have a limited world view. They always have. That will expand as they grow older. Right now the older generation is critical of them for not being mature enough. The older generation was critical of the boomers when they were younger too... as Filo points out-- this went on all the way back to Plato at least.

The history books are closing on the boomer generation. Gen X, Gen Y and today's youngsters still have plenty of time to develop and show the world what they are capable of.

In case you could not tell from my little rant, I do feel that if the ship U.S.A. sinks, it will be because it hit the iceberg on the boomer's watch. The peak and decline is clearly provable.

Even so, right now I see a few people securing bulkheads and manning bilge pumps, while most are rearranging deck chairs. Unlike 60 Minutes, I don't think I could draw a line separating the two groups on the basis of age, race, or sex.
 
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