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Social media causing narcissism in Millenials?

Millennials, also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, is the moniker applying to those born between the 1980s and the early 2000s. All current CHS students fall into this demographic, which probably means most of them are narcissists.

The Millennials have grown up in a far different world from their parents’, most attributable to the increase in technology, especially the Internet. But has this change in communication resulted in a change in ourselves? As time progresses and studies increase, it is becoming generally accepted that Generation Y retains the common characteristic of self-absorption. Jean Twenge, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, attributes to this generation an increased sense of entitlement, as personality surveys show increased narcissism in comparison to past generations.

A likely reason for this spike in egotism may be attributable to the rise of social media. As more and more time is spent online, face-to-face human interaction has dwindled. A 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that teens spend an average of seven-and-a-half hours a day consuming social media. The most common form of social media is cell phones, as, according to the study, three-quarters of all teens own cell phones, and the average time spent on phones has increased an hour and a half since 1999.

The argument could be put forth that social media is not egotistical, since it is a form of socialization. But throwing that term around muddies things up: talking face-to-face is socializing, so why do we call things like Facebook or Twitter “social networks,” when you are only ever on these programs by yourself?

A more accurate name for online interaction, instead of “socializing,” would be “competing.” Online fraternization is more often than not a constant competition, for whoever can garner the most followers, the most likes, the most friends, etc.

In a competitive atmosphere, the most obvious instinct is to win. So focus is placed on what is best for you, survival-of-the-fittest style. For photos, guys flex and girls strip. The funnier or better the post, the more likes. Your entire control is placed on what others see of you online; you leave out all imperfections. You never post ugly photos of yourself or hurtful comments (unless anonymity is secured). You focus entirely on yourself and what you want others to think of you. Another name for this is—you guessed it—narcissism.

Through social media, every single person becomes the sole subject of their own news station. Every time someone eats a sandwich or buys new socks, the entire world is notified. We feel we need to document every one of our actions, but for what purpose? It feels desperate, really, striving to prove to yourself and everyone else that you have a “life,” or that you should be thought of as “cool.” Each post a user makes seems like a cry begging for attention, for confirmation of that person’s existence.

The repercussions of this may be of more consequence than one might think. According to study conducted by Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute, Millenials have a more difficult time holding down a job, often floating from one to another. Two-thirds of Millennials in the study reported they would likely “surf” from one job to the next.

This stems from the Millenials’ stronger sense of entitlement and self-importance, as half of those participating in the Michigan State study reported having moderate to high superiority beliefs about themselves. According to a similar survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, 74% of the Millennials participating expected higher pay, 61% expected flexible work schedules, 56% wanted a promotion within a year, and 50% wanted more vacation time.

All in all, Padres, it might not be a bad idea to put down the iPhone for a little while. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Vine—all those unimportant and unnecessary distractions can be set by the wayside. You just might lead a better life because of it.

-Sam Graves


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