As Barack Obama thrilled his supporters on Monday with his clarion call to action for the poor and the oppressed, young people across the country -- though in numbers somewhat smaller than were enthralled by their leader's words four years ago -- nodded in agreement. For this was about them, and Obama’s speech told them once again how great they are. Obama spoke to the "N Generation," those millions who, because they are the beneficiaries of the miracles of internet technology and instant, worldwide communications, believe firmly they know all and are entitled to everything; as the old song by Queen shouted, "[they] want it all and [they] want it now."
Academic studies reveal this pervasive narcissism clearly.
Hundreds of colleges across the nation administer the CIRP Freshman Survey (TFS) each year to their incoming students. Hundreds of thousands of young adults take this survey, which covers a wide range of demographic and psychographic topics. San Diego State University psychology professor Dr. Jean M. Twenge and her team studied these results, and recently released a report painting a disturbing picture of America’s young adults.
Today’s young youth are more narcissistic than ever. This generation is more likely to find role models in vapid Hollywood tabloid starlets like Kim Kardashian than revolutionary business leaders such as the late Steve Jobs, who gave them the iPhones that are now glued to their hands, or Marc Andreessen, whose prescience and skill launched Mosaic, the world's first graphical web browser less than one generation ago.
These young people live on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; public stages in which they are the stars, demanding absolute and immediate attention from their peers. Self-worth is measured in "Likes" and "retweets;" what was had for breakfast becomes breaking news. Heaven forbid if someone ever "unfriends" them.
Of course, they are not completely to blame. Parents and adults share responsibility for creating this monster. For decades, parents were told by so-called parenting “experts” that offspring would be best raised on the belief each is special and entitled to all life has to offer. Now, trophies are awarded to every child on the team or in the class so no child's self-esteem is bruised by virtue of being "left out;" letter grades from "A" to "F" give way to vague and slippery narratives. We encourage every teenager to pursue their passion in college -- something to which they are "entitled" -- regardless of the marketable value of the skills they gain after many tens of thousands of dollars spent on that education.