For the last couple of years I've been doing a little seminar on narcissism in today's youth culture. We look at the trends and how they're playing out. San Diego State University Professor and Researcher Jean Twenge has done extensive research on the emerging generations and narcissism. She's concluded that despite what they may say, they are the most narcissistic generation alive.
In many circles, I hear people talking about teens and youth culture saying Twenge is in error with her conclusion. After all, doesn't the emerging generation of kids want to make a difference in the world? Well, yes. . . but that's only part of the story. The human heart is still dark and bent on idolizing the self. Doesn't matter what age we are or what generation we're from. But the way narcissism is being worked out in many young lives is in a movement towards helping others, and I've talked about that in the seminar. It works this way - "Because the way to get ahead in life is to build my resume so that I can position myself to get the best for me, my resume has to include a number of activities, including involvement in social causes." When my motivation to make a difference in the world is purely about making a difference for me, then it's narcissism. It's a selfless narcissism - so to speak - if that's at all possible. . . and I don't think it is.
What made me think about this early this morning? I spotted this Zits cartoon, and it captures it well.