Are Millennials More Narcissistic?

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“Back in our days… ”. This is how many of the stories elders tell youngsters today, particularly us Pakistanis, begin and move on to praise their Generation X for being everything that’s all good, while in comparison, declaring the current Generation Y, to be disrespectful, spoilt, self-centered, entitled and to sum up in one word, ‘narcissistic.’ Debating whether millennials, the generation born in the time span from 1980s to early 2000s, are ‘more narcissistic’ is, in itself, admitting that the previous generations too were narcissistic. Then why so have millennials come under fire for who they are and labeled ‘The Me Me Me Generation’ ?

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It seems millennials are only easier to judge and target to criticism given their exposure to the world, which, today, has emerged as a global village and unarguably a whole lot different than the one our elders grew up in. With technology causing uproar so rapidly, it’s only natural for the older generations to be resistant of it. But it’s also unfair to take it out on the youngsters of today who have been surrounded by it from the very start. Of course, such an everyday thing for us millennials has impacted our attitudes and shifted our societal and generational norms from those held previously.

In fact, speaking particularly of narcissism, research shows while some dimensions of narcissism have increased, others have decreased too, with no significant overall change.

Narcissistic traits are only one side of the picture. There’s a lot more to The Millennial Generation than just ‘selfies’ of which even elders have their fair share. With initiatives such as Sightronics and ‘Teach for Pakistan’ among several, their civic-orientation and altruism is no secret. While they strive to make their way through tough competition and meet high expectations, millennials often have their intentions mistaken; confidence for arrogance, ambition for selfishness, flexibility for disloyalty, feedback call for attention- seeking, and autonomy for disrespect. That doesn’t mean this generation is completely humble. Narcissists have existed before, do today, and will do so later as well. Although it’s inevitable to have such variety in a population as large, it’s insufficient to justify the generalization of an entire generation.

As with human nature, youngsters of all generations tend to be more self-centered and shatter any unnecessarily built pride as they experience failure and mature with age, rather than just millennials being narcissistic on a whole new level. A result of generation gap, this perception is simply a continuation of what has been happening through all generations. Although more pronounced, the cleft can be narrowed by pulling strings on both sides. Where the older generations hold every right to correct us millennials who too must not let go of universal values and be tolerant, they should too adapt themselves, entrust the Millennial Generation with the world today and be optimistic of the future millennials have set out to build.

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