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Generations come and go and each generation exhibits distinct characteristics. However, several generations overlap at any given time, as there are no distinct borders between the generations. Differences that arise between such generations are either positive or negative depending on the level of tolerance and understanding among members of different generations. Such differences lead to tension and animosity if not handled well at home as well as at the workplace.
The current generation goes by different names and exhibits distinct characteristics, which put them on a collision course with members of the other generations. This essay looks at the characteristics of the current generation and how the environment has affected their lives. Further, the essay will discuss the effects of social networks on the individual as well as relationships.
Generation Me manifests several characteristics. Generation Me disregards formality and instead prefers informal settings and mannerisms. For instance, they prefer casual wears to formal wears and are not comfortable with rules and regulations that exist in almost every setting. Twenge says that Generation Me cherishes the idea that, “we are a much more informal and accepting society than we once were” (Twenge p. 19). They believe that rules that used to govern the society do not matter anymore and concepts like politeness and universal ethics no longer exist.
Generation Me easily agrees with the statement “there is no single right way to live” (Twenge p.19). What the individual believes in matters most. As such, commonly cherished tenets of the past generations give way to individual decisions and outlook of life. Generation Me does not give a thought to how other people in society perceive their actions. The individual holds that “As long as I believe in myself, I really do not care what others think” (Twenge p. 19).
In other words, to Generation Me, morality and ethics are relative and the individual is the measure of morality and ethics. What the individual believes in is indisputable. There are no universal ethics, rules do not exist anymore, and where rules exist, they are not as strict as they used to be. According to Generation Me, rules should be flexible and accommodate their views and not the other way round.
Twenge cites several illustrations to prove that Generation Me no longer holds universal principles of life as true but instead leave it to individual judgment. According to Twenge, such movies as the Majestic, Pleasantville among others mark “two interlocking changes: the fall of social rules and the rise of the individual” (Twenge p. 22). Further, current dancing styles, which change within short periods, are a pointer to the change that Generation Me believes in.
Although such changes existed before Generation Me, a difference exists in that, previous generations attempted to embrace the individual lifestyle while Generation Me found itself in such changes. Twenge says, “Unlike the Baby Boomers who learned these new standards as adults, GenMe takes these attitudes for granted and always has” (Twenge p. 24).
Generation Me members act in various ways to prove that ethics are relative. The generation does not value courtesy since it works as “respect for other people’s comfort” (Twenge p. 26). Such acts include rampant cheating in the education circles, failure by students to respect the authority of educators and an attitude that presumes that the generation and the professionals are equal in all aspects (Twenge p. 31. In addition, the generation uses foul language while communicating and disregards taboos that once governed issues like intimacy, dating, and marriage (Twenge p. 31). The generation does not value personal privacy and can share personal experiences with anyone who listens to them (Twenge p. 37).
Concerning religion, Twenge says, “GenMe is also less willing to follow the rules of organized religion” (Twenge p. 34). Members of Generation Me individualize issues pertaining to religion just like any other issue and this has led to a decline in church attendance among the members of this generation. Conservative churches lose members of Generation Me every time, as these members prefer attending churches that “promote a very personalized form of religion” (Twenge p. 35).
Such churches promote literature that supports the individualized notion of religion. Twenge cites Rich Warren in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, “Accept yourself. Do not chase after other people’s approval…God accepts us unconditionally, and in His view, we are all precious and priceless” (Twenge p. 35).
Twenge traces the Generation Me culture to the emphasis placed on self-esteem in the 1970s. In itself, the self-esteem curriculum meant well for the generations to come but Generation I has interpreted the curriculum to mean, “feeling good about yourself is more important than good performance” (Twenge p. 56-57). Consequently, Generation Me members assume narcissism (Twenge p. 69) where the members are “overly focused on themselves and lack empathy for others” (Twenge p. 68).
Parents can no longer choose preferences for their kids including careers. The philosophy that “You can be anything you want to be” (Twenge p. 72) buoys them.
According to Twenge, “We expect our kids to have individual preferences and would never dream, as earlier generations did, of making every single decision for our children and asking them to be seen and not heard” (Twenge p. 75).
The Generation Me members exhibit egoistic tendencies and everything they do is about them. They have embraced the principle “You must love yourself before you can love others” (Twenge p. 90). Generation Me takes a keen interest in appearance and material things including money, jewelry, and other personal possessions. This attitude of living alone or trusting oneself comes with several consequences.
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Consequences of Living Alone
Members of Generation Me suffer various consequences arising from their attitude. Twenge has outlined such consequences. Members suffer loneliness, isolation, and depression since they prefer living alone and postpone marriage until when it is almost too late for childbearing (Twenge p. 113). Generation Me members focus on pursuing personal aspirations and loving themselves and are always on the move due to the demands of their dreams. According to Twenge research shows that the number of people who consider themselves lonely is four times more compared with those in 1957 (Positive Psychology Resources).
Facebook has worsened the tragedy of Generation Me. It virtually prevents the members of the generation from interacting with other people since it gives them a false feeling of togetherness through applications like chat and texting but in reality, they are all alone. The social network does not allow them to think beyond it as they can spend considerable time and this aggravates their lonely nature (Madrigal).
Their attitude affects their future careers. After years of pampering and special attention, joining college stresses the generation when reality dawns on them that not all of them can join the best colleges and such prestigious studies as law and medicine are a preserve of the few. The job market is not any different since the same dynamics apply (Twenge p. 118). The market absorbs the best brains, not best-pampered individuals. Their dreams of good jobs quickly fade into a reality that expectations must match hard work.
Another consequence of Generation Me’s attitude is poor academic performance. In a survey carried out in 1989 on mathematical skills, American pupils trailed in the class. Twenge reports that grade inflation has risen from 18 percent in 1968 to 48 percent in 2004 (Positive Psychology Resources). This has arisen from the emphasis of self-esteem at the expense of performance. Narcissism has risen from Generation Me’s attitude. The members of this generation are overly concerned about themselves and find it hard to think about others.
They often use others to achieve selfish goals and can be overly aggressive and hostile. They believe that they deserve respect from everyone and when such respect is not forthcoming, they become more hostile. In her research, Twenge discovered that the rate of narcissism has risen from 12 percent in the 1960s to over 80 percent by the late 1980s (Positive Psychology Resources). This has arisen from a growing sense of entitlement among the Generation Me members. They demand better grades at school even when they do not work hard and are always involved in road rage (Positive Psychology Resources).
The phenomenon of Generation Me is a reality and as such, members need assistance to realize their goals in life. It is up to the parents and guardians to nurture their children and avoid pampering them unnecessarily. The employers should be patient with members of Generation Me and engage them positively since given they can learn quickly and use search skills since most of them are tech-savvy and can really assist a company in several areas. They should be encouraged to face life knowing that every member of the society needs other members to achieve goals. Lastly, the generation must learn to strike a balance between self-esteem and performance.
Madrigal, Alexis C. “How Facebook Designs the ‘Perfect Empty Vessel’ for Your Mind”. Web.
Positive Psychology Resources. “Twenge’s critique of self-esteem”. 2013. Web.
Twenge, Jean M. Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before. Canada: Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print