We are reading Jean Twenge's Generation Me, subtitled Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled - and More Miserable Than Ever Before. It certainly makes for provocative reading, and it presents a very persuasive point-of-view.
Today's young people have been nurtured and appreciated, and when it comes to their plans for the future, they unabashedly list put themselves and their needs at the top of the list.
"GenMe is straightforward and unapologetic about (their) self-focus. In 2004's Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis, Jason, 25, relates how he went through some tough times and decided he needed to change things in his life. His new motto was "Do what's best for Jason. I had to make me happy; I had to do what was best for myself in every situation."
From the USA Today article, "Among kids today, 62% of college students say they pay little attention to social conventions. In 1958, an average of 50% did. Among ages 9-12, the difference was even greater — 76% in 1999, compared with an average of 50% in 1963." What does that mean? Twenge notes more bad manners (maybe 'asocial' more than antisocial), flabby self-discipline, rising rates of cheating or law breaking, and unrealistic estimates of ability coupled with disillusionment and fatalism.
Certainly a healthy self-esteem is important, but if it becomes the overwhelming focus of a person, it may be a greater negative than a positive.
Well, even the neuroscientists can see in the brain what the difference is between me-focus and other-focus: thinking about personal goals and aspirations lights up the anterior cingulate where reward and also addiction are known to be active. On the other hand, if thinks about duties or obligations to others, the posterior cingulate and precuneus are where it's at -regions more active with self-reflection and gratitude.
BTW, we are heading out of town again - this time the Wallace Symposium for Talent Development in Iowa. We'll be talking about some of our experiences with gifted dyslexics there - if anyone is interested, we'll post some of it when we get back.
So...brief blog break - back blogging next week on the 24th.
Personal and Social Obligations & fMRI
USATODAY.com - Gen Me & Social Norms
Generation Me Chapter Excerpt:
Eide Neurolearning Blog: The Science of Thanksgiving
Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex & Reward
Eide Neurolearning Blog: The Examined Life: Cultivating Self-Reflection and the Return of Socratic Thinking