Yesterday, my wife was reading a Time Magazine article, and she asked me if I thought that the "Millenial Generation" was more narcissistic, entitled, privileged, self-absorbed than our generation. I said no, despite the data presented in the Time Magazine article, which has its portal here (though the full article is only accessible to subscribers): "The Me Me Me Generation."
Of what Time Magazine allows us to see, one can read the following: "The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that's now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of Health; 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in..." (Stein, 2013).
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2143001,00.html#ixzz2VLHHSkzk
I left in the the "Read more" link because when I copied just the text from Time Magazine, the site automatically appended the text with the Read more blurb and URL. Tricksy Tricksy.
Though I am not disputing that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a very real and very destructive force of psyche, I would like to question the data and how the National Institute of Health arrived at those statistics.
The modern world breeds conditions like Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It's no wonder that both entered into serious study around the 1970s. Again, ADD is a very real thing, but it's also very prevalent with almost everyone in our modern world to some degree, especially among people who use various forms of technology to interact with and consume media and who engage actively in social media outlets. Because of the very nature of media, social media, and all the access technologies, everyone involved is a little (and some quite a bit more than a little) narcissistic and ADD (used in the common vernacular as an adjective for someone displaying the symptoms of ADD). But there's a significant difference between showing signs and symptoms and having a disorder. Are we a little quick to slap a "disorder" label on basic human reactions to our complex, modern world?
When I read the definition of NPD, I find that it does not universally apply to those in my life whom I may label as narcissists or when I find that I am labeling myself as narcissistic. "Narcissistic Personality Disorder involves arrogant behavior, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration-all of which must be consistently evident at work and in relationships. People who are narcissistic are frequently described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. Narcissists may concentrate on unlikely personal outcomes (e.g., fame) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment ("Psychology Today," 2013). This list features seriously damaging personality traits, such as lack of empathy and manipulations.
So back to the discussion with my wife, are the children of today any more entitled, manipulative, or privileged than we were? No. I don't think so. Granted, those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s (and to some extent those from the 1980s) can grouse and complain about how much MORE the children of today have: more television channels, more product choices, more technology, just MORE. I am sure I am not the only person from my age group who has said that my smartphone has ten times the computer power and capacity of my first three computers combined. I am sure I am not the only one who has discussed with his peers how different our lives would have been if had we been plugged in the way the kids of today are plugged in with all the choices and fun games and access to media that we have today. (In fact, both these themes have appeared already in this blog and will recur as often re-visited themes.)
It's a new and different world today than the one of my childhood, and with the next singularity (or singularities) approaching as described by Ray Kurzweil (see trailer and link elsewhere on this page), the changes we have seen so far are just the beginning of changes so transformative that our culture of the near future may well be indistinguishable from the world of the 1970s in just a few years.
Not on Netflix. Not via Amazon. Buy it? Here.
And yet, are we fostering and enabling a generation of NPDs?