Here’s my tip for 2013’s crop of high school graduates, most of whom marched to “Pomp and Circumstance” last weekend: Don’t believe the hype.
Case in point: Joel Stein’s incisive, at times amusing portrayal of the so-called millennial generation in Time magazine recently. The young whippersnappers born between 1980 and 2000, which are now referred to as millennials and include this year’s grads, were originally called Generation Y. Today’s 13-year-olds are the last of the millennials, to be succeeded by the who-knows-what generation. Gen Z, maybe?
According to Stein, millennials are so self-absorbed that they make Greek mythology’s Narcissus look like a shrinking violet. “Here’s the cold, hard data,” Stein wrote in “Millennials: The Me, Me, Me Generation” in the May 20 issue. “The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older. Fifty-eight percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982.”
Stein, who was born in 1971 and is thus a member of my generation, Generation X, began his column-like piece by bemoaning millennials. “I am about to do what old people have done throughout history: call those younger than me lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow,” he wrote. “But I have studies! I have statistics! I have quotes from respected academics!
“Not only do millennials lack the kind of empathy that allows them to feel concern for others,” Stein opined, “but they also have trouble even intellectually understanding others’ points of view. What they understand is how to turn themselves into brands.”