Wednesday, June 07, 2006

It's all about Generation Me

That is the title of a column by Reuben Navarette, a center-left syndicated columnist whose writings often show up in the Sacramento Bee. I often disagree with Mr. Navarette, especially concerning immigration issues, but I'm with him all the way on this subject.

He describes people who were born in the 1990s, 1980s, and yes, the 1970s (I was born in 1972), as Generation Me: a demographic raised by parents and educators on a steady diet of meaningless feel-good platitudes in an effort to raise self-esteem. Navarette wrote this column after perusing a new book from psychology professor, Jean Twenge called Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- and More Miserable Than Ever Before. You may have to register with the Bee in order to read the article online, but here are the three most important paragraphs from the column:

...Many of these little treasures were raised in protective bubbles with nanny-cams and decals on car windows that read: "Caution, Baby on Board." From there it was off to public schools, where in the early 1980s, building self-esteem had become nearly as important as teaching math or English. Parenting experts, child psychologists and educators agreed: Boosting students' self-esteem would make them more confident and more successful. Some school districts did silly things such as discouraging teachers from using red pens to correct assignments. Red, it was said, had a negative impact on a student's self-image.

...members of Generation Me have gone through life feeling as if the world revolves around them because, well, for much of their lives, it has. A lot of them have a sense of entitlement. They think they're too good for menial jobs or even blue-collar work, and when they do step into an interview for white-collar employment, they're ambitiously eyeing the vice presidency. They want to make an impact on society, do something fulfilling, and if along the way they become rich and famous, then all the better. They're notoriously impatient, and they won't hesitate to quit if a given job or project doesn't live up to expectations.

...So why does this matter to the rest of us? There's the obvious answer: These are the workers and taxpayers of the future who will, one day, have to keep society afloat.
They'll find that easier to do if they don't constantly throw in the towel at the first sign of roadblocks or adversity. These kids have always been told they would succeed. But along the way someone should have told them that there is a lot to learn from failure.


Good Day to You, Sir

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