The oddity of Jean Twenge’s conclusion that we discussed Wednesday, that our youth are more anxious and depressed than before (see her book Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before), is that one would guess that the youth should be happier … “In many ways,” as she puts it, “there’s no better time to be alive than right now” (109).

Her contention is that the growing “tendency to put the self first” leads to “an enormous amount of pressure on us to stand alone” (109). This is the downside of the focus on the self that has emerged out of the Boomers’ approach to education and parenting.

What are the long term impacts of a self-esteem approach that leads to our young adults feeling even more need to “stand alone” or “do it on their own”? Do you think standing alone is a major issue today? What are some remedies or approaches to these issues? Do you think there is a “social anorexia” at work?

She thinks there is (and I use my own term here) a social anorexia.  That is, “we’re malnourished from eating a junk-food diet of instant messages, e-mail, and phone calls, rather than the healthy food of live, in-person interaction” (110). There is an instability in relationships — beginning with divorce and casual romantic relationships and the biological clock ticking for young women and young men (1.2 men unmarried for every one woman). Lots of living alone and lots of moving from one location to another … looking for jobs and the economic realities of how expensive it is to buy a home and dual income and then kids and fees for taking care of kids … much of this driven by the desire to stand alone. Add to this higher expectations by the young adults … and the desire to make it on our own.

That is, the desire to stand alone leads to more isolation and loneliness and they lead to anxiety and depression.

That is, standing alone leads to more depression. People need one another. Studies are best explained along these lines.

The USA has more but feels worse. Part of the problem is the decline of community. 

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