And now, we simply have what we have. “What's really become prevalent over the last two decades is the idea that being highly self-confident - loving yourself, believing in yourself - is the key to success,” Twenge told BBC News in an interview. “Now the interesting thing about that belief is it's widely held, it's very deeply held, and it's also untrue.”
When the curtain is pulled back, the result is not pretty. But, the damage is already done; and because they lack any ability to self-assess, members of the vast N Generation cannot possibly fathom the reality that failure to meet personal goals is their fault. Their consuming sense of entitlement, a byproduct of deeply ingrained narcissism, causes them to lash out at the imaginary phantoms that obstructed them from the success to which they had a right.
It is this delusion of entitlement that served as the catalyst for the recent "Occupy" movement. Participants demanded jobs from the “corporatists” who "destroyed" the entitlement economy. They demanded (and continue to demand) student loan debt forgiveness from the federal government because suddenly they cannot find employment fulfilling their need to shoot to the top of the business ladder, despite having double-masters in English literature and art history. They blamed capitalists for corporate greed while posting updates from their $500 phone, all while shooing bums away from their tent city.
We see the hypocrisy. They are blind to it.
However, there is another side to this delusion. It is the side that begets desperation, depression, and violence. According to Twenge, “since the 1960s and 1970s, when those expectations started to grow, there's been an increase in anxiety and depression.” And, this anxiety and depression is unchecked by normal behavioral restraints. Narcissists don’t empathize, or understand the needs and feelings of others. They are only concerned with themselves, and how they feel in the moment.
This leads to unpredictable conclusions when reality comes crashing in. These people are more likely to resort to violence when trapped against a wall; something that may very well help explain the uptick in mass murder among young, white males over the last few decades. They vent their frustration with “society” by shooting up theaters and classrooms, unable to fully comprehend the evil of their actions.
It is not only isolated incidents of violence. The 2011 riots in England, which left five dead and caused more than $300 million in property damage, were fueled by a generation of young Brits who grew up without ever hearing the word "No." “They are essentially wild beasts,” British journalist Max Hastings wrote after the riots. “They are products of a culture which gives them so much unconditionally that they are let off learning how to become human beings.”
America is heading down the same path as the U.K. and, unless somehow checked, it is only a matter time before the small outbursts of violence among the various youth protest movements spark a fire that will prove extremely difficult if not impossible to extinguish.