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And these aren’t just rich-kid problems: poor millennials have even higher rates of narcissism, materialism and technology addiction in their ghetto-fabulous lives. This is a generation that would have made Walt Whitman wonder if maybe they should try singing a song of someone else.
They are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they’re trying to take over the Establishment but because they’re growing up without one. They got this way partly because, in the 1970s, people wanted to improve kids’ chances of success by instilling self-esteem.
The Industrial Revolution made individuals far more powerful–they could move to a city, start a business, read and form organizations. It turns out that self-esteem is great for getting a job or hooking up at a bar but not so great for keeping a job or a relationship.
The information revolution has further empowered individuals by handing them the technology to compete against huge organizations: hackers vs. “It was an honest mistake,” says Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University and the editor of Self-Esteem: The Puzzle of Low Self-Regard.
“The early findings showed that, indeed, kids with high self-esteem did better in school and were less likely to be in various kinds of trouble.
Each country’s millennials are different, but because of globalization, social media, the exporting of Western culture and the speed of change, millennials worldwide are more similar to one another than to older generations within their nations. Millennials have come of age in the era of the quantified self, recording their daily steps on Fit Bit, their whereabouts every hour of every day on Place Me and their genetic data on 23 and Me.
They’re so convinced of their own greatness that the National Study of Youth and Religion found the guiding morality of 60% of millennials in any situation is that they’ll just be able to feel what’s right.Their development is stunted: more people ages 18 to 29 live with their parents than with a spouse, according to the 2012 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults. In 1992, the nonprofit Families and Work Institute reported that 80% of people under 23 wanted to one day have a job with greater responsibility; 10 years later, only 60% did. ) Millennials consist, depending on whom you ask, of people born from 1980 to 2000. Unlike my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents, I have proof.They are fame-obsessed: three times as many middle school girls want to grow up to be a personal assistant to a famous person as want to be a Senator, according to a 2007 survey; four times as many would pick the assistant job over CEO of a major corporation.
Correction Appended: May 9, 2013 I am about to do what old people have done throughout history: call those younger than me lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow. Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed that 40% believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance.
Here’s the cold, hard data: 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 2009 than in 1982.