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Understanding Generation Me – pt. 2

Yesterday’s post introduced  Generation Me, a book by Jean M. Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University.   The notes below are summarized by David Mays. The Age of Anxiety (and Depression, and Loneliness) Expectations are very high just …
By Seth Barnes
Yesterday’s post introduced  Generation Me, a book by Jean M. Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at
San Diego State University.   The notes below are summarized by David Mays.
The Age of Anxiety (and Depression, and Loneliness)

Expectations are very high just when good jobs and nice houses are much
harder to get.   When we are fiercely independent and self-sufficient,
our disappointments loom large because we have nothing else to focus
on.  The result can be crippling anxiety and crushing depression. 
 
Social contacts are slight and superficial.  There is a famine of warm
relationships.  “We’re malnourished from eating a junk-food diet of
instant messages, e-mail, and phone calls, rather than the healthy food
of live, in-person interaction.”  Almost half have divorced
parents or have never known their father.  “The cycle of meeting
someone, falling in love, and breaking up is a formula for anxiety and
depression.  This often begins in high school.”  “Many spend their
twenties in pointless dating, uncertain relationships, and painful
breakups.” Even people in unhappy marriages are happier than
those who divorce.
 
You need a college degree to be where high school graduates were a
generation ago.  Essentials such as housing and health care are
astronomically expensive. “High expectations can be the stuff of
inspiration, but more often they set GenMe up for bitter
disappointment.”
 
The vast majority of young people couldn’t care less about politics.  “It makes more sense psychologically to believe in fate.  If you
don’t, your self-esteem will plummet each time you fail.”  “The
victim mentality arises full force in schools, where teachers often bear
the brunt of these attitudes.” Students and their parents hold
teachers responsible for their grades.  They are often defiant and
argumentative.  “Teens who have been told their whole lives that they
are special will desperately try to protect their self-esteem, and many
will choose cynicism as their armor of choice.”
 
“Perhaps because they don’t think their actions will have consequences,
externals have weakened self-control and an inability to delay
gratification.  They’re less likely to work hard today to get a reward
tomorrow….  Externality and low self-control are also correlated with
the impulsive actions that tend to get young people into trouble, like
shoplifting, fighting, or having unprotected sex.”
 
Generation Prude Meets Generation Crude
“Waiting for marriage is, to put it mildly, quaint.” “…do what feels
good for you, and ignore the rules of society.”   The standard of
‘being true to yourself’ drives the sexual decisions of young women. 
Sexual choices depend on the individual.  Sex in high school is the
majority experience.  75% of young people (80% of young women) approve
of sex before marriage.   Young people are comfortable talking
about sex in great detail. “The most striking shift in teenage and
twentysomething sexual behavior in the last decade is the disconnect
between sex and emotional involvement.”  Teens that watch a lot of
sexual content on TV are twice as likely to engage in sex. 
 
The Future of the Young
There will be a full-scale collision between GenMe expectations and the
unfortunate realities of life that will lead to a lot of anxiety,
depression, and complaining. Young employees will expect job fulfillment
and quick promotions.  Employers must try to understand GenMe with
their high expectations for salary, job flexibility, and duties.  They
were raised on extensive praise and expect it.  They are not motivated
by duty.  They will be frank and they appreciate directness, but they do
not take criticism well.  They do not respect authority and will feel
free to make suggestions.  You have to earn their respect.  They will
learn best by interaction and doing, not by listening or reading.  They
are flexible and used to dealing with diversity.  They may have to be
taught to clean up their attitude and language when talking with older
folk.  They appreciate independence, flexible schedules, and casual
dress code.

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