There’s a tragic movement afoot that characterizes and stereotypes Millennials. Media powerhouses have latched onto contorted, shortsighted views. This wholesale disqualification is embodied in Time Magazine‘s “The Me Me Me Generation” cover and articles.
As the cover states, “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” Without a critical curiosity, you may read the article and think, “Wow, this generation really is the worst yet.” Unfortunately, vitriolic articles are commonplace about Millennials and the effects will likely damage us all.
Them vs. Us
The consequence of overindulgent, everlasting news outlets is that they simplify and repeat. With 24-hour, cyclical news, it’s often filtered for mass audiences. The consequences result in Them versus Us debate. Stories are painted in black and white – watered down for easy consumption.
Millennials likely have very little different from the parents and predecessors. Even though rapid social change has occurred, the generations are largely the same. Regrettably, media outlets continue their onslaught – wrong as they may be.
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 (Source)
Time Magazine would like you to believe that they’re only dealing in facts – no opinion, assumption, or personal perspective. They cite an article from the NIH that suggests, when compared to those 65 or older, Millennials are three times more likely to suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This severe psychological disorder brings with it heavy consequences. NPD sufferers often have a lack of empathy, arrogance, need lots of attention, and preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies regarding success and others’ admiration.
There’s nothing flippant about this disorder. Despite popular culture and media interest, narcissism in a psychological sense is terrifying. Yet, the author of this Time article throws it around. And yet, a very small minority of the population actually has narcissism.
Unfortunately, this is poorly understood and disrespectfully used in the context. In these studies that compare narcissism over time, it’s important to realize that they’re are longitudinally-based; meaning, you’re getting a section in time. By analyzing rates of NPD across generations in this single subset of time, you risk missing the bigger picture: increased rates of “narcissism” (I’d say, selfish) at this time of life (to an extent). Secondarily, that people lose this selfishness and self-centeredness as they age. This would require a latitudinal (over time) study with a consistent psychological definition of narcissism (which rarely happens, as the DSM gets updated every decade or so).
The report says nearly every group is worse off than four years ago, except for those 65 to 74. Some groups have experienced larger-than-average declines, including blacks, young and upper-middle-aged people and the unemployed. (Source)
Vast economic upheaval has left this generation feeling abandoned by political powers and past generations. Rising unemployment, staggering student loan debt, and lessening social mobility all confluence together into a torrential problem for everyone. By writing these caustic articles, Time Magazine and media outlets like them are downplaying these significant social issues. If anything, “Generation Me” is asking to be remembered before this country abandons them.
In a recent Rolling Stone article on the crisis of student loan debt, Matt Taibbi takes aim at this $1.2 trillion problem. Rather than blaming individuals for suffering the crushing burden of out-of-control student loans, he takes jabs at a system that has failed lower and middle-income populations. Students of the millennial generation suffer through the most onerous tuition fees and rising costs amidst state tax revenue shortages.
Frankly, the majority of us don’t have time to sit around and bask in our reflections, as Time’s article suggests. This generation is struggling to make ends meet. The economic distress of our time is changing the minds of our youth. We are a tougher group, and we’re fighting tooth and nail to change our situation. And as we hope and work for a better future, media outlets criticize these efforts – labeling them as narcissistic and lazy.
We must move away from pejorative labeling and accept a more peaceful acceptance of other generations. Many came before us and many will follow. Why create such demons in those to come? Everybody should be saving and contributing to a better future.