Monday, January 7, 2013

The Delusion of Thinking Oneself Automatically Special

There’s a very interesting article circulating the web right now that can currently be found on the UK’s Mail Online. It’s all about the me generation, an era of young adults who have been brainwashed into believing that they’re automatically awesome just because they exist.

Here are a couple of the more telling quotes from the article:

“Young people's unprecedented level of self-infatuation was revealed in a new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has been asking students to rate themselves compared to their peers since 1966… over the last four decades there's been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being ‘above average’ in the areas of academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability, and self-confidence.”

“Researchers also found a disconnect between the student's opinions of themselves and actual ability… objective test scores actually show that their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts. Also on the decline is the amount of time spent studying, with little more than a third of students saying they study for six or more hours a week compared to almost half of all students claiming the same in the late 1980s.”

The article continues with… “Though they may work less, the number that said they had a drive to succeed rose sharply. These young egotists can grow up to be depressed adults. A 2006 study found that students suffer from ‘ambition inflation’ as their increased ambitions accompany increasingly unrealistic expectations.”

Immediately, I have to think about the 20-something hairdresser who cut my hair early last year. While she snipped away, I couldn’t help but notice how she was far more focused on telling her coworker all about her aspirations to become a stylist for the stars. She was so intent on her dreams, in fact, that she ended up lopping one side of my curly locks a decent two inches shorter than the other. And never noticed.

Why? Because she was so busy thinking herself something special that she was practicing at being someone special.

She’s hardly alone either. Think about all of the other young people out there wasting time on their blogs or YouTube videos or countless other pointless, hopeless pursuits in order to showcase some “cool” talent that will supposedly make them rich and famous.

Of course, real adults realize that isn’t the way it works. Sure, sometimes you just make it big for no good reason. Dumb luck certainly does appear to play a part in some success stories. But even when that does happen, it requires hard work and know-how to retain the benefits of that dumb luck.

That’s something that real adults recognize. Clearly, this “above average” generation is sorely lacking in anything so grown up.

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