Joel Stein, with his litany of facts, surveys, and anecdotes, shows us that in spite of the super special rhetoric that milennials are used to — generational saviors of the world, the reincarnation of the Greatest Generation — we’re not as great as we think. Not because we’re not great, but because we think we’re really, really great: millennials have higher rates of narcissism than any generation previously. TIME says, “The National Institutes of Health found that for people in their 20s, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is three times as high than the generation that’s 65 or older…”
But of course, we weren’t born this way: societal standards and norms perpetuated by previous generations shaped us to be the demanding self-important know-it-alls that we are.
I want to dispel the idea that millennials never think of anyone but themselves by blaming seven different culprits who have made milennials such narcissists.
Essentially, other generations, millennials are great: this must be all your fault.
1. Reality Television
Millennials are the first generation to grow up with reality television as a normalized part of entertainment, which makes me want to shut down this list and say case closed. The only person on reality television who has ever reprimanded a participant in that show was Tyra Banks, which may explain why millennials don't respond to any sort of workplace feedback unless it ends with "we were all rooting for you!"
2. The Internet
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, PolicyMic? You name a social network and it has contributed to making millennials the very worst versions of themselves, determined to rack up as many reblogs, mics, shares, and pins? (I'm still not quite sure I understand Pinterest) as they can, connections and relationships with other people be damned.
3. Mr. Rogers
Come on. If a guy like that says you are special everyday after school for years, are you really supposed to ignore him? We're special! Mr. Rogers told us so.
4. Consumer Culture
Who loves the concept of "generation" more than marketing execs? Our "generation" has been told since we could stare at the television (and then our smart phones) that we are the future, the "Pepsi generation," and we have to buy, buy, buy.
5. No Role Models
Millennials grew up with parents who were friends rather than parents, friends that cared about the success of their every move (like Karen and Gretchen in Mean Girls, but also pay your college tuition). This was a good move for Baby Boomers: with the looming crisis in elder care, having someone who likes you a lot and can still earn income will be imperative when Medicare runs dry. However, it also left millennials with a little bit of an ego problem. Don Draper sums it up best.
6. The Participation Trophy Industrial Complex
Those concerned about the millennial generation’s focus on the “me” often complain about the way that mere participation was rewarded like it was actually important, or something. “Everyone got a trophy!” they lament. Millennials apparently expect to get trophies (or a medal, or a certificate, depending on your preferences) just for doing the bare minimum. But who told parents and teachers that they should start buying knick knacks to celebrate mundane accomplishments? Obviously, the nefarious trophy manufacturers, determined to make a profit off indulging the ego of mediocre children. No wonder no one at Google can get anything done without getting ice sculptures and tigers afterwards.
7. TIME Magazine
You did this to us, TIME. It was you, all along.