Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Generation Me vs. Others

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
Generation - 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


  1. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Liz from I Speak of Dreams. Your readers may also be interested in

    Elliott Currie's The Road to Whatever, ISBN 0805067639

    From Publishers Weekly
    Popularly deemed a problem of the minority poor, adolescent crime is also an issue of the suburban middle class, argues sociologist Currie (Crime and Punishment in America) in his close look at disaffection and transgression among the teenage bourgeoisie. Drawing on numerous interviews with college students and a two-and-a-half-year study of adolescents in drug treatment programs, Currie argues that because "we are accustomed to deploying the image of a stable and successful middle class as measuring stick against which the less... successful parts of our society... can be judged," we demonize and/or fail to understand middle-class kids who go astray. One of Currie's subjects, who began using drugs at 13, reminisces about growing up in a "beautiful home, really a beautiful home"—but financial comfort didn't prevent her from stealing from her family to buy drugs. In addition to the teens' detailed (and harrowing) personal accounts, Currie offers suggestions as to why teens from supposedly ideal homes are lured into irresponsible and criminal behavior. It's not our culture of permissiveness but our "culture of contingent worth," in which kids feel like they're never good enough; similarly, an intolerance for transgression and a "totalizing moralism" labels kids as bad rather than acknowledging their mistakes. Surprising, insightful and potentially controversial, Currie's analysis adds further nuance to burgeoning critiques of adolescence in the U.S. Agent, Katinka Matson at Brockman Inc. (Feb.)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Robert Shaw's The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children ISBN 0060011831

    Shaw's thesis is that ultra-permissive parenting and consumerist approaches to parenting are at fault.

    If you plug the ISBN number into a search engine, various vendors such as Amazon will be returned.

  2. Anonymous10:48 PM

    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.

    Yes please post more on gifted dyslexics!!!

  3. Will do. Thanks for posting!

    We'll post some of our data next week.

    It also looks like we'll get a chance to present some of our findings at the International Dyslexia Association next fall, too.

  4. I would also love to hear more about gifted dylexics. I just finished reading "Misdiagnosis". What a great boy, I cried all the way through it. Thanks for this website, I check it daily!