Incoming students…are so vain

“Well hello class of 2017.  Here’s a dose of reality.  You are not as good as you think you are.”

Hmmm… I’m not sure that is going to increase enrolment.

However, narcissism is on the rise.

Our society is full of itself.  In an essay for The Tyee, Shannon Rupp notes that is not just a boomer phenomenon.  We are teaching each other that thinking highly of ourselves is the key to success.  Our narcissism is actually harming everyone.  She writes,

I side with the psychologists who say garden-variety narcissism — as opposed to the dangerous personality disorder — is a learned behaviour and it can be unlearned. For this I advise the sort of rigorous teaching once found in the confines of small newspapers. I recall an editor who treated all flummery with suspicion and even greeted praise from readers with this advice: “If your mother says she loves your work, look to see what she’s trying to sell you.”

Much like spelling, these skills are being lost. Twenge recently analyzed the data from the American Freshman Survey, which has been done since 1966, and found a 30 per cent increase in narcissism scores since 1979. Naturally, the youngsters had boundless enthusiasm for their own abilities, all unjustified. For example, they considered themselves excellent writers while producing test scores significantly lower than the more modest cohorts of the 1960s. They harboured big hopes of wealth and fame, although they studied half as much as their predecessors.

“What’s really become prevalent over the last two decades is the idea that being highly self-confident — loving yourself, believing in yourself — is the key to success,” Twenge told the Daily Mail. “Now the interesting thing about that belief is it’s widely held, it’s very deeply held, and it’s also untrue.”

She says that with a touching sincerity, as if anyone cares about truth. Or even believes it exists.

If the prescription for evolving out of the Age of Narcissism is ensuring that children have a realistic view of the world and their place within it — as so many psychologists say — then it’s a lost cause. Who exactly do they expect to be introducing such foreign concepts as truth when grammy is busy coaching the fake friends for grampy’s funeral?

Hmmm.  Question Period.

What is going to give us a realistic view of the world and our place within it?

Who is going to give us a realistic view of the world and our place within it?

What will we do when the people around us are also bankrupt and raging because we are unable to prop them up?

What is the trajectory for a people who are so attached to their ideas and products that to criticize ideas and products is to diminish them?

Who will tell us to “accept correction without falling apart?”

Are we so fragile that failure will crush us?



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