From ‘The Entitlement Generation’ to the ‘Look At Me’ Generation
Katy Grimes, Sacramento Union Columnist
Published: July 4, 2008
First, there were the Baby Boomers, the original “Me” generation (1946-1964). They produced the next “Me” generation: Generation X, also known as “The Entitlement Genera-tion” (1964-1984). Now, last century’s most self-absorbed generation have produced another “Me” generation, the “Look at Me” generation.
Why should we even care? Their kids are more self absorbed, self obsessed and desperate for attention than any previous people that ever walked the earth.
Don’t know what I am talking about? Open your eyes. The spoiled, hyper-sensitive, self-esteem children of the Baby Boomers are reproducing. The bratty, self-indulgent, spoiled and disloyal Gen Xers are now having kids. Today’s entertainment supports this, with YouTube videos, MySpace Web pages and “reality” TV shows where people act stupid, eat bugs, have sex and sing out of key in front of a camera and a live audience. When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, there were no “reality” programs on TV. If you were stupid enough to make a fool of yourself in public, you went into hiding and prayed no one recognized you.
The “Me” generations of parents think that everything their kids do is worthy of a “wow” and a reward. Doing what used to be expected is exceptional today; eating one bite of dinner elicits clapping and immediate dessert. Getting in the car gets a high-five and a “good job.” Interrupting a conversation between adults by saying, “excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me” begets the child an excited “Thank you honey,” instead of a stern “shh.”
Parental guilt, shame and fear are driving today’s Gen X parents. Yet what do they have to be guilty about? Living well? Growing up spoiled? Spoiling themselves as adults? Today’s young parents fear responsibility; they deny themselves nothing, even if it means bankruptcy, because as children, they were denied nothing. They were never told that they could not have something because their parents couldn’t afford it—that would have been scandalous and shameful. Baby Boomer parents “afforded” whatever their kids wanted, resulting in resentment and guilt.
Sociologists have traced the “Me” phenomenon back to what they called the “self-esteem movement” that emerged in the 80s, asserting that the effort to build self-confidence has gone too far. Former Democratic Assemblyman John Vasconcellos established a task force on self-esteem and social responsibility in 1987 to get public funding for self-esteem research in California. He misguidedly thought that the state could “gift” self-esteem upon kids, instead of teaching them how to work for it. Consequently, the Self Esteem Police produced self-obsessed adults who resent authority.
Unfortunately, Gen X parents demonstrate that permissiveness is a component of their parenting style; most ignore the horrible behavior of their kids in public. When a correction is finally offered, it is over-analyzed and explained to the misbehaving child, instead of just saying “no.” More authoritative parenting and less indulgence in the child’s natural narcissistic behavior is called for; but that would require the Gen X parent to recognize that a parent’s primary duty is to raise a responsible and independent child.
Instead, Gen Xers have bad manners and think everyday is casual Friday. They whine incessantly, have contempt for authority, they show disrespect for elders and thrive on empty chatter about themselves in place of substantive communication.
A little advice to Gen X: Shave your stupid computer geek goatees, wash your greasy hair, replace the flip flops and skuzzy jeans with wrinkle-free appropriate work clothes and access some of that self-esteem you’re always whining about. Your kids are brats and so are you. Time to grow up—or we’ll cut off your allowance.