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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 jus…
By Seth Barnes
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
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.

Comments (8)

  • Seth, this blog breaks my heart because it is so true of this generation! How can this vicious cycle be broken? The word “entitlement” comes to mind when referring to the GenMe group! They believe they should instantly have all the nice possessions mom and dad have WITHOUT working for it!!! Please Lord, help the GenMe generation find their way in this life and the life to come!

  • I think the last paragraph says the most. Most of what is said is general observations. Each sentence is loaded… to me at least. For instance the sentence,

    “They will learn best by interaction and doing, not by listening or reading.”

    Do you know why this is (speaking to the older Gen)? Because we have been spoon-fed BS all our lives. There is a genuine fascination with us for reality shows. We KNOW its not reality but its entertaining. We watch commercials but we KNOW they are lying. Our BS meter has burst and we are ready to escape out from the padded cell of the comfortable American home and explore without having all the strings.

    Speaking to Mikes comment above. You are right. I AM entitled. And its bad… really bad. I find out everyday more and more the extent of it. But how do I fix it. How does my generation fix it. First comes acknowledgment (which is hard in itself), but then comes assessing and planning the steps to cure it.

    Those steps are:

    Find someone who resembles what we are trying to become and follow them… OOPs there are none. Because we are so independent and have long been surrounded by ONLY people our age.. we lost touch with even bridging the gap to our parents. I am looking for authenticity in the highest form. If you don’t have it then I probably wont listen to you.

    This is especially true for young Christian adults. I seek everyday for mentors and teachers to follow. But seldom do even the most highly acclaimed resemble anything of Jesus but rather closer to the Pharisees.

    I am rambling, I could go on point by point, but it might take all night haha.

    Enjoy and I look forward to more comments!

  • Grant, good points. You’ll get there. I love your pursuit of the truth and your commitment to detox.

    Mike, I’ve been working on this issue for a while and have found that there are some wonderful young people who are exceptions, like your daughter. Your commitment to raise her according to a different standard is evident. And for the others, we offer the World Race as an antidote. Young people desperately need what it offers.

    We’ve found that the process of abandon that leads to brokenness that leads to dependence is so important on the race. And that’s why we believe in community that gives gracious, but direct, feedback. Without it, they remain mired in their narcissism.

  • As a GenMe member, I think I have to take issue with the sentence, “They do not respect authority and will feel free to make suggestions.” Are those one in the same? The way this sentence sounds to me is that by making suggestions we are not respecting authority. (Perhaps this is a bias that the generation before me has…that making a suggestion is a sign of disrespect?) Or maybe I’m just reading into the statement.

  • **mArC** The Schifano Tribe

    @ Maggie-The whole thing really is like a ballet, not a mosh pit. It’s a fine balancing act of respecting that this is your boss, being respectful, earning his or her trust etc, and before you know it the boss is asking me for my opinion. I’m 33 and at my full time job, I have a lot of supervision that I do. At my second job, as a pizza maker, I manage the place that my best buddy and his mom own. The kids range from 18 to a 71 year old delivery driver, yep 71. It’s an awesome place to be. After 7 years of working there, by example, and keeping my mouth shut, unless asked, trust me thats hard for me, I have been entrusted with more than I ever thought I would have in life, people’s lives.
    OUr GenMe, needs a touch of humbleness, a lot of Love, and for me, I needed a big brother to smack me in the head when I was disrespectful to my mother. A ballet, tip toeing tightrope walking ballet. LOL. Peace out.

  • Hrmm… as a twenty-something, I agree and disagree with today’s posting and yesterday’s posting. While I do agree with the entitlement, increased materialism, narcissism, and lack of genuine relationships present among my age-mates, I have to say it is not something I see frequently among them. It seems more present in the upcoming pre-teens actually. In all fairness, this may be because I am now separate from the “kid” category and have a view from outside the bubble. To be honest though, it seems like these concerns are advancing socially all across the board.

    I hear this argument often that young people are this and that, but it seems to often be one based on nostalgia and resistance to change. I have certainly done it since exiting college. I agree that this generation is more crude and materially focused, but stuff like questioning older people seems … i dunno what word to use …. ageist? (shrug) Of course, you shouldn’t presume to know more than someone with more experience, but that shouldn’t keep you from respectfully voicing an opinion. No one is all-knowing or incapable of making mistakes, and the views of younger people can give fresh perspectives on situations or problems. Honestly, that borders close to, “Children are to be seen, and not heard.”

    This difference between this gen and the previous one, which created these unmet expectations, could be due to incompatible environments. Gen-me was raised to expect diversity, encouragement, rewards, and so on. If the rest of the world were the same, then there wouldn’t be as much anxiety, depression, and complaining from them. It seems the parent generation is also experiencing difficulty matching what they are/were used to and what society is becoming as gen-me rises to power. Must say, though, that this isn’t new. Parents in ancient rome have had similar grievances.

    It seems to me that this article is basically pointing out what it feels is wrong in the current generation. No problem, I do it to. However, it’s not like this generation birthed itself. From where did these values, behaviors, and ideas originate? Who is currently running the media? Who raised this generation? Who raised the previous generation? What are/were the national and global climates that nested either one? It’s like noticing that there is milk on the counter, but not looking for the leak in the jug. By finding the source, you can actually cure the problem.

    What we can do now is identify the source of the issues, try to positively effect the current generation, and then do what we can to instill what we consider positive values in the next one.

    Pardon the long commentary, lol.

  • Good thoughts here, Emy. I like the way your mind works. Wish there were a forum to get to the bottom of it all.

    What’s interesting about the points the author makes:

    1. based on empirical research
    2. she herself is gen-me
    3. clearly the problems originated in the way my generation parented

  • I agree, I wish there was a Christian forum, except a forum like that can get religious. If I ever get the time, I may seriously start one, and invite all of AIM and the racers of times past and present…lol.

    I think what AIM is doing is a great way to be a part of positive change. Like you mentioned, that kind of community and personal enlightenment that the race/mission trips generate is a great cure to narcissism, as well as a cure for materialism and lack of community. Once vaccinated with the spirit of Christ, they can then go immunize those that they come in contact with. That would be my idea to cure these issues.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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