Here's why millennials are a generation of narcissists

Here's why millennials are a generation of narcissists

Cover credit: Pixabay

Cover credit: Pixabay

Here’s the cold, hard data: the incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation of 65-year-olds and older, according to the National Institute of Health.

About 58 percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982. Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed that 40 percent believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance.

Millennials are also fame-obsessed: three times as many middle school girls who want to grow up to be a personal assistant to a famous person as those who want to be a senator, according to a 2007 survey.

They’re so convinced of their own greatness that the National Study of Youth and Religion found the guiding morality of 60 percent of millennials in any situation is that they’ll just be able to feel what’s right. Their development is stunted: more people between the ages of 18 and 29 live with their parents than with a spouse. And they are lazy.

In 1992, the nonprofit Families and Work Institute reported that 80 percent of people under 23 wanted to one day have a job with greater responsibility. About 10 years later, only 60 percent did.

In the U.S., millennials are the children of baby boomers. They are widely known as the Me Generation. Whereas in the 1950s families displayed a wedding photo, a school photo and maybe a military photo in their homes, the average middle-class American family today walks amid 85 pictures of themselves and their pets. Millennials have less civic engagement and lower political participation than any previous group.

They got this way partly because, in the 1970s, people wanted to improve kids’ chances of success by instilling self-esteem. It turns out that self-esteem is great for getting a job or hooking up at a bar but not so great for keeping a job or a relationship. The problem is that when people try to boost self-esteem, they accidentally boost narcissism instead. “Just tell your kids you love them — it’s a better message,” Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, said.

Though they’re cocky about their place in the world, millennials are also stunted, having prolonged a life stage between teenager and adult. They interact almost entirely through a cellphone screen. They might look calm, but they’re deeply anxious about missing out on something better — that constant search for a hit of dopamine reduces creativity.

Evan Spiegel, 22, co-founder of Snapchat, said that it’s become too exhausting for millennials to front a perfect life on social media. “We’re trying to create a place where you can be in sweatpants, sitting eating cereal on a Friday night, and that’s okay,” he said.

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