This week, Jonah Goldberg’s column in the Los Angeles Times takes on the most pressing problem facing America’s youth: high self-esteem.
Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and a team of psychologists combed through the answers of 16,475 college students nationwide who took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory survey between 1982 and 2006. Their conclusion: Today’s American youth are the most self-absorbed since we’ve studied the subject. “We need to stop endlessly repeating, ‘you’re special,’ and having children repeat that back,” Twenge told the Associated Press. “Kids are self-centered enough already.”
True. Just because your mom was a rat-fucker spying on McGovern for the Nixon campaign, that’s no reason to assume that you’re entitled to a series of sinecures with the various right wing media outlets now controlled by the men she blew in the White House Map Room on election night in ‘72.
It seems to be a distinctly American problem. Immigrant kids are less likely, for instance, to see good grades and high compliments as a birthright.
The only solution: More immigrants! I’m sure Jonah’s readership will concur.
Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University, recently told the Wall Street Journal that Asian-born students don’t argue about every bad grade. They respond to such esteem-deflating feedback by working harder.
He also noted that black students respond by dancing more effectively to the beat, while Jewish students try to bargain down the price of tuition.
Nonetheless, what I find fascinating is how our narcissism surplus, to some extent, is the unintended consequence of trying to use psychology as just another branch of public health.
Looking back, the brief attempts in the Seventies to deal with mental health issues as part of a larger public health policy look as risible to the modern observer as the leisure suit, or a bottle of T.J. Swann’s Mellow Nights.
The long-running TV show “Wonderama” became “Kids Are People Too” to reflect a new seriousness of childhood.
Really? I thought it was maybe because Wonderama, which appeared exclusively on Metromedia stations in 7 regional markets for most of its run was bought by ABC, and some network executive in New York said, “Why the hell is this thing called ‘Wonderama’ when the theme song is called ‘Kids Are People Too?’” But Jonah’s right about the “new seriousness of childhood,” because once the show went national, the “snakes in the peanut brittle” game became a clear metaphor for the then-popular fraggings in Vietnam.
The burgeoning “children’s rights” movement — to which a young Hillary Clinton was connected — saw treating kids as peers to be of a piece with the new egalitarianism.
Yeah, I remember when I was a kid in the 70s, and Hillary Clinton kept insisting on treating me as a peer — taking me out for drinks, bumming smokes, asking my opinion on the continued relevance of the “Declaration of the Rights of the Child” adopted by the League of Nations in 1924, and wondering if I’d like to come back to the hospitality suite and join her in a three-way with the Arkansas Attorney General.
Movies as diverse as “Taxi Driver,” “Bugsy Malone” and “Irreconcilable Differences” fixated on treating kids like adults in one way or another.
I’m glad somebody else grasps the underlying message of Taxi Driver;that if we are to call ourselves Free Men, we must come together as a nation to ensure that child prostitutes are granted the same rights and privileges enjoyed by adult whores. Moreover, Jonah is the only critic I have ever read who instinctively realizes that Bugsy Malone was trying to do for pre-pubescent gangsters what The Terror of Tiny Town did for midget cowpokes.
The result? Large numbers of kids raised to be like adults have concluded that they want to stay kids, or at least teens. People my age hate being called “Mr.” or “Ms.” by kids. Grown women read idiotic magazines
Like this one?
…obsess over maintaining a teenager’s body…
…and follow the exploits of Lindsay Lohan. Grown men have been following professional wrestling and playing video games for 25 years.
Yeah! When will these overage infants grow up, put away childish things, and start immersing themselves in Simpsons and Star Trek lore?Posted by scott on August 7th, 2007