Screw Generation X, here comes Generation Me!

Yesterday evening, MSNBC posted a story about teenage narcissism and what it could mean for students going forth into the working world. They posit that the sheer amount of self-centeredness that most college students have could prove to be detrimental to their development as human beings. Whether this manifests in their lack of respect for their peers, a need to assert “over-control”, or any other form, they show serious risk of having severely stunted personal growth and development.

I’ve met my fair share of college aged kids. My opinion: this article, while perhaps a bit on the extreme side, has it exactly right. It doesn’t take a middle eastern mystic to tell you that over the past 10 years, we’ve gone from being a pretty fair and balanced society to one that coddles little Timmy from the day he emerges from the womb. “No, he’s not stupid, he’s got a learning disability.” “Oh, my daughter isn’t depressed, she’s just ecstatically challenged.”

We watch these little bundles of joy mature from babies to young adults, all the while repeating endlessly how special and important they are. We tell them they’re unique snowflakes and anyone who disagrees with them is obviously blind, deaf, and dumb — excuse me — visually challenged, hearing impaired, and cognitively different. It gets to a point where they start to believe the bullshit that we continually send flying their way, until they reach the age where they’re forced to fend for themselves. That’s when the problems begin.

Whether they feel that they deserve the best jobs even if they’ve been performing substandard work, or they deserve praise for doing only the bare minimum, we’re on a slippery slope as it is, and things aren’t getting any better. We’ve got so used to treating these kids like our princes and princesses of everything holy, that when it’s time to sit down with them and let them know that they haven’t been performing, they throw a temper tantrum all the while completely disbelieving they could have possibly done anything less than perfect.

Of course, I don’t have children, so what the hell do I know? I’m merely speculating on what I see. I do, however, remember my childhood vividly (partially because, to a certain extent, I’m still living it), and I can say with 100% certainty that I am glad that my father raised me as strict as he did. Growing up, I would have never admitted it, nor would I have even realized what he was doing, but by telling me no sometimes (OK, all the time), and telling me that I wasn’t perfect, he was in essence preventing me from developing an entitlement complex, and/or narcissitic tendencies.

I wasn’t Prince Justin who ruled the Kingdom of Smith while my parents gave me everything I could have ever dreamed of; I wasn’t Emperor Justin of the Smith Islands where I was waited on hand and foot. I was just Justin, my dad’s son, who had to work for everything I wanted (honestly, I was told at age 12 that I would no longer be receiving an allowance and that if I wanted to buy slurpees or lunch at school, I would be on my own and that flyer delivery companies were hiring). I may not be the cover story for Well Rounded People Weekly, but I can sure as hell say that for once in my life, the grass is definitely greener on my side of the fence.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times where I’m sure a little extra confidence wouldn’t hurt, or having everything given to me would be a nice change of pace; that’s not to say however, that on the whole I’m not thankful for what my parents gave me. After looking back on the past 24 years of my life, I can say that I’m pretty happy with what I’ve accomplished. I’ve written enough music to put out a CD, I’ve lived on a (sub-)tropical island, I’ve had a number of real, meaningful relationships with people outside of my immediate family, and I think I’ve found a profession that I enjoy and that I’m good at.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m sure bein a parent is hard; you watch your kids grow up and you can’t help but want to give them everything you didn’t have growing up. Whether that was eating out twice a week from age 6, or a brand new car at 16, you want to provide your kids with a life you could have only dreamed of. All I’m suggesting is that parents reconsider handing their children life on a diamond-encrusted silver platter because I’m getting very tired of watching fights between supervisors and their employees.

I mean — the managerially averse.

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