Generation Y or Generation Whine? Old People Hate Us Either Way, No Matter What They Say

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Psychology Today's resident psychology expert (and editor at large) really flexes her studied, academic brain muscles when she proclaims that, in short, those born between 1982 and 2002 are turning the country into a "nation of wimps." That's the official term. And that's also the gist of this weekend's New York Times Magazine attempt to box in anyone still growing up. But the derision doesn't stop there! Paired with a photo of some ironic tees and (artificial?) tattoos of rainbows leading to a pot of gold, Judith Warner, the author of We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication, hands us our candied asses in ink. Then she pulls an expected reverse: "Or maybe having a bulked-up ego really does serve as a buffer to adversity," she writes. But by that point it's too late and it feels insincere.

Here's a list, admittedly devoid of context, of the ways members of "Generation Me" -- a bunch of "basket cases" -- are described in the piece:

Entitled, spoiled, unmanageable, unable to take criticism, profoundly narcissistic, deprived of a sense of agency, unwilling to work, supremely confident, irrationally exuberant, an example of group psychosis, headed for a major crash, overconfident, jobless, dissatisfied, off-putting, entitled (again), lacking humility, hard to take, not necessarily maladapted, annoying (yet admirable), and egotistic.

To be sure, some think us optimistic, idealistic, or destined to do good, and after interviewing nine students -- as in the single digit 9 -- Warner concludes that maybe the above traits are actually ideal:

[W]ith their seemingly inexhaustible well of positive self-regard, their refusal to have their horizons be defined by the limitations of our era, they just may bear witness to the precise sort of resilience that all parents, educators and pop psychologists now say they view as proof of a successful upbringing.

The "self-esteem gurus" always said it would be this way, she argues limply. Oh, really? Because if there's anything our parents and their friends were when we were adolescents, in addition to "anxiously overinvolved," it was patronizing. We're used to it.

The Why-Worry Generation [New York Times]



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