Kids these days, huh?
Every generation since the discovery of fire must be required to say this on their 40th birthday. These young people are lazy, entitled, and shallow, according to the older generation. Are we doomed? Will they sit on their phones and computers all day and stop wanting to learn about physics, chemistry, and philosophy? Are humans destined to become extinct because each generation after the last is becoming less willing to work for their worth? No. No. No. Well then is there reason to worry? Probably, but Millennials don’t have to.
Millennials want to leave the older generations behind. After all, they’re smarter, harder working, and more compassionate, right? The baby boomers must be ruining the country and the world with their ignorance and entitlement.
Everyone always seems to overreact in these days…
Millennials consist of people born from 1981 to 2000. The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for adult millennials than for baby boomers (1946-1964), according to the National Institutes of Health (Stinson et al., 2008). 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. Wait, then maybe the millennials are entitled? Maybe everybody feels entitled. Why does this constant generational battle exist?
Generational Definitions. *Current age as of 2008.
A millennial, a generation X’er, and a baby boomer.
Depending on who you ask, millennials are the most threatening generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they’re trying to take over the Establishment, or Generation X’ers The Man, but because they’re growing up without one. The industrial revolution permitted individuals to move to a city, start a business, or join a thriving company without worry. This modern information revolution has further empowered millennials by giving them the technology to compete against huge organizations as single individuals: bloggers can take on newspaper corporations, YouTube stars can take on television studios, entrepreneurial app developers can compete with gigantic tech industries. Millennials don’t need the older generation. Baby boomers, among others, should be scared of them. The power paradigm has shifted directly because of the Internet and the potential that comes with it.
Not only do millennials have a high incidence of narcissism, they also hold a higher regard for themselves and have very unhealthy personal standards. Personally, I definitely feel this high pressure standard, as I strive to get a well-paying, practical job before matriculating into medical school.
Many millennials feel an unhealthy amount of stress when dealing with jobs, education, and their future. Millennials have the highest likelihood of having unmet expectations with respect to their careers and their career development.
What makes this pressure worse? Constant comparison to their peers. There is a growing problem in the education world that emphasizes competition over learning. Students would rather get a higher grade than actually learn something. This is troubling for the future of education. Now that cell phones and social media allow people, particularly millennials, to socialize at every waking hour (ghastly I know), they experience constant influence of their peers. Millennials only hang out with other millennials. First, it’s tough to learn much when your colleagues have as little experience as you do (from an AskReddit thread: “Intelligence is how efficiently knowledge can be absorbed. Wisdom is how efficiently knowledge can be applied”). Second, upward comparisons are extremely detrimental to a young adult’s self-worth, especially when they experience these harmful comparisons multiple times a day, every day.
Upward comparisons are especially vicious when applied to peers as opposed to applied to older adults. The negative effects are more prominent with peer comparison.
Social media is another culprit to social comparison theory. People, notably these millennials, are inflating their self-worth on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When you are constantly seeing Facebook updates about others’ vacations, parties, and job promotions or school admissions, it is difficult to view yourself in the same way. People see others’ positive status updates and feel like, relatively, their lives are worse than they actually are.
Three times as many millennials as baby boomers use social media today. In 2008, that factor was around 30 times more likely.
While every millennial might seem like they are addicted to technology, could you imagine if baby boomers had access to the same technologies when they were teenagers and young adults? Woodstock selfies, that’s what. Baby boomers and Gen X’ers had something in common: they had to fight The Man, “down with the establishment!” Millennials have so many subcultures that it’s hard to join a counterculture when there is no culture. Millennials are so diverse that they don’t have anyone or anything to fight against. There isn’t an, to quote Pink Floyd, “Us and Them” attitude. There aren’t rebels in this generation. Which can be a great thing. It could also be a disappointing reality if you enjoy the fight against the establishment mentality that is highlighted within so many Pink Floyd albums (The Wall, The Final Cut, Wish You Were Here, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Animals, etc.) Seriously though, listen to all 15 albums. Yes, this is a shameless plug for my favorite band.
All fifteen Pink Floyd albums.
So millennials can have all that narcissism, laziness, and entitlement. But this generation’s legacy will be determined by how they react to the struggles that face them and how older generations react to them. You better start believing in them. They do.
Next week I will wrap up my blog, concluding with the Future of Internet Entertainment.
Stinson, F. S., Dawson, D. A., Goldstein, R. B., Chou, S. P., Huang, B., Smith, S. M., … Grant, B. F. (2008). Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Results from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 69(7), 1033–1045.