We are doing a series now on the fantastic book called Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before
by Jean Twenge.
we posted some big image ideas from her book. Today we dip into her first chp called “You Don’t Need Their Approval: The Decline of Social Rules.” 50somethings and older are saying “Clear to me” and the real iGens are rolling their eyes to the roof.
A big point: Twenge’s thesis is that the relentless exposure to self-esteem teachings, introduced to the Christian community by James Dobson’s book Hide or Seek (or something like that), has long-term impacts on how an entire generation sees itself. The fundamentals of the self-esteem approach to life is that humans need to be treated as Eikons of God and to be valued for who they are. The flipside of self-esteem is that, while it can create a powerful backbone of self-knowledge and self-esteem, it can also lead — when not set in proper contexts — to narcissism and self-importance and entitlement independent of and even incommensurate with character and achievement.
This chp concerns social rules. Social rules shift, not always to the good.?
Questions: What social social customs of iGens (18-35 yr olds) annoy you the most? Which shifts (found in iGens) do you admire/appreciate the most?
Take clothing. Clothing today has become for iGens a mode of self-expression. Until this generation, and it derives mostly from how Boomers shifted in this very matter, clothing expressed more often than not one’s status and one’s culture. For a man to wear a suit was to dress “appropriately” and to “fit in” with one’s work culture. At one time I had such instincts. For a woman to wear a dress (and she brings up a girdle too) was to fit in and to dress the part and to say “I belong.” iGens unequivocally — most of the time — dress both the way other iGens dress and they do so to express themselves. Instead of “making an impression” on one’s cultural codes, iGens dress to make a statement about themselves. So Twenge.
All of this fits into the mode of self-esteem where iGens were taught to follow their own dreams and to pursue happiness above all else and to focus on individual needs and desires. Of course, not true of everyone — but a generational characteristic. Do you agree?
She uses a “Melissa” to express this attitude: “I couldn’t care less how I am viewed by society. I live my life according to the morals, views, and standards that I create” (20). She points to Pleasantville?where, when someone discovered individualistic freedom, they turned from black and white into color.
Her point: this all indicates — according to statistics — a trend away from social mores and customs to much more of a personal, individualistic expression. Ah, The Simpsons:?Springfield’s usual “Do What We Say Festival” was changed to “Do What You Feel Festival.” For Twenge, this typifies a trend, the trend of iGens who were shaped by Boomers.
Twenge reports from one of her studies about what iGens report as most characteristic of their generation: “independent” and “open-minded.” We’ll continue this chp.