Our generation has a poor reputation. Researchers continue to report that we have an obsession with ourselves. Are we ever concerned for others? Or is it just about me, me, me?
This self-absorption, sometimes called Narcissism, has been measured in different generations using the Narcissism Personality Inventory. Narcissist have an excessive interest in and admiration of themselves. The test asks various questions, such as “If I were to become president, would the world would be a better place?” This test was made to measure how much self-obsession or overconfidence a person may have.
And we Millennials continue to score “higher” than those born in the 90s and 80s. This stereotype, then, of the Narcissistic Millennial, is based in truth. But because each teenage generation is shaped by outside influences, we have to acknowledge that social and economic forces of our time help define us. So what does that mean for us, the millennials?
In part, it means we shouldn’t be the ones apologizing for our behavior. A great difference between Millennials and other generations is our use of technology and social media. Our phones are our news outlets, marketing tools, and centralized way of communication with the world. This has shaped us in ways we could not even imagine. Social media is our way to express what we have done throughout the day, our feelings and what is on our mind. It encourages us to talk about ourselves. I mean twitter even asks “What’s happening?” We are free in the world of social media. Why should society shame us about having a narcissistic mind set when that is what social media is for? We and our peers function as our own entertainment.
And there are examples of how this self-obsession is helpful. When we use #Leydenpride on twitter, yes we’re focusing on ourselves, but collectively it expresses school spirit and shows us as a community supporting each other. That is definitely not a symptom of narcissism. Even when we use twitter for personal posts–our own pictures, our own funny tweets–who says that should define us as narcissistic and self centered? Aren’t we building connections when we do it?
Economic factors are building our self-interest as well. The focus, we hear so often, is in the upcoming economy is the need for college and competition in the marketplace after college. We are constantly being asked “What are you plans for after high school?” We are even pulled out of class to talk to our consualars about which colleges we will apply to and how important it is to get applications in as soon as possible. This focus on our plans on our decisions makes us think that we have to, and can, do all of this on our own. It is our life so yes, we have to be selfish. We have to put ourselves above the rest in this circumstance. Our narcissistic behavior is taught. If we have to be selfish in order to help our future, maybe being a little narcissistic does no harm to us.
Selfishness does benefit us in a way when it comes to our generation becoming successful. But that one trait should not define us negatively. Instead, we need to use it to evolve for the future. Our focus on our self is only one aspect of our lives, it is not necessary to be selfish in everyday life. Building relationships and having people to care about is essential. It feels good to genuinely care about someone other than yourself, to be happy for another when they succeed by your side, to motivate someone you care about to be the best they can be. Although we may think we have to be selfish all around, stop and think sometimes about your actions and what you can do for someone else.