Monday, January 5, 2009

Generation Me

Being a part of this generation, I really got a kick out of this book I picked up a few months ago, Generation Me by Jean M. Twenge. The books is exactly about what it sounds like: The current generation (Generation Me), the culture of the 80s, 90s, and today.

We could have various titles, this one fitting appropriately. Other titles have been called the following: iGeneration, Instant Gratification Generation, Millenials, the Net Generation, GenX, GenY, etc.

Why Generation Me? We're so centered and focused on ourselves. We are less involved with the world directly (with less human contact, internet, televisions, video games, etc) even though we are more connected. We are selfish and self-centered, thinking of pleasing ourselves and making ourselves happy instead of looking at the group/world. We are spoiled, we've had the most excess and surplus, we've had no major world wars, and we've been pampered. What will happen to this generation?

It's a very interesting cultural study she does here in this book. During her doctorate work, she completed various tests that were given to teenagers in the 50s-70s/90s and gave them to teenagers today. She compared the data to draw conclusions about teenage values, ideas, ideals, hobbies, etc. The data is very interesting.

This book compares the Baby Boomer Generation to Geneation Me. Here are some marked differences:

Baby Boomers: Self-fulfillment, journey, potentials, searching, change the world, protests and group sessions, abstraction, spirtuality, philosophy of life

Generation Me: Fun, already there, follow your dreams, watching TV, surfing the web, practicality, things, feeling good about yourself

Below, I will put some information that I found fascinating from the book:

-SCHOOL: "In 2002, 74% of high school students admitted to cheating, up from 61% in 1992. In 1969, only 34% of high school students admitted to cheating, less than half of the 2002 number.

-SCHOOL: In a 1997 survey, 88% of high school students said that cheating was common at their school. Three times as many high school students in 1969 compared to 1989 said they would report someone they saw cheating.

-MARRIAGE: In 1957, 80% of people said that those who didn't marry were "sick, neurotic, or immoral."

-MARRIAGE: Interracial marriage has also become much more common, doubling since 1980 and now accounting for 1 in 17 marriages.

-DATING: In a 1997 survey of college freshman, 95% agreed that "in dating, the important thing is how people get along, not what race or religion they may be."

-OPENNESS: In a recent survey of men, 62% of those 18 to 24 said they are comfortable discussing their personal problems with others, compared to 37% of those ages 65 and older.

-SELF-INTEREST: A careful study of news stories published or aired between 1980 and 1999 found a large increase in self-reference words (I, me, mine, myself) and marked a decrease in collective words (humanity, country, crowd).

-SELF-ESTEEM: By the mid 1990s, the average GenMe college man had higher self-esteem than 86% of college men in 1968. The average mid 1990s college woman had higher self-esteem than 71% of Boomer college women.

-SALARY: In 1999, teens predicted that they will be earning, on average, $75,000 a year by the time they are 30. The average income for a 30 year old that year? $27,000.

-MARRIAGE: GenMe marries later than any generation, at 27 for men and 25 for women. Boomers: 23 and 21.

-In 2002, 57% of men and 43% of women aged 22 to 31 still lived with their parents.

-DEPRESSION: Only 1-2% of Americans born before 1915 experienced a major depression, and they lived through a world war and the Great Depression. Today, the lifetime rate of major depression is ten times higher--between 15 and 20%. In one 1990s study, 21% of teens aged 15 to 17 had already experienced major depression.

-DEPRESSION: The number of people treated for depression almost tripled in the ten-year period from 1987 to 1997, jumping from 1.8 million to 6.3 million. During 2002 alone, 8.5% of Americans took an antidepressant at some time.

-EDUCATION: Today's young people are the most highly educated generation ever--more than 30% of people between the ages of 25 to 39 have a college degree.

-MARRIAGE: 62% of people in their 20s have never been married.

-SEX: In the late 1960s, the average woman lost her virginity at the age of 18; by the late 1990s, the average age was 15.

-BABIES: In 2003, 34.6% of babies were born to unmarried women, the highest rate ever recorded.

-RACE: In 1960, almost 80% of whites answered yes when asked, "Would you move if black people came to live in great numbers in your neighborhood?" By 1990, only 25% of whites still agreed. [I think that's still a bit high...]

-WOMEN: Women earn 57% of college degrees and almost half the degrees in law and medicine.

-GAY MARRIAGE: While only 30% of the country supports gay marriage, 59%--nearly twice as many--of 18-year-olds do.


-SUICIDE: Although 17% of teens said they seriously considered suicide in 2003, this was down from a staggering 29% in 1991.

-TEEN PREGNANCY: Teen pregnancy decreased markedly; births to teens aged 15 to 17 were down 42% between 1991 and 2003, and the abortion rate for this group dropped as well.

-CRIME: The violent crime rate fell 35% between 1992 and 2002. Fewer teens carried a weapon to school. Even alcohol use is down for teenagers."

With all of this information, Twenge does offer advice on what to do for the upcoming generation, Generation Me:

1. Ditch the self-esteem movement and the unrealistic aphorisms.

2. Provide better career counseling for young people.

3. Create more support for working parents.

How the government can help:

1. Create a nationwide system of paid parental leave.
2. Create a system of public pre-schools for 3 to 4 year olds.
3. Make child care expenses child deductible.
4. Change school hours.

Advice to parents:

-Junk the self-esteem emphasis and teach self-control and good behavior.
-Do not automatically side with your child.
-Limit exposure to violence.
-Don't use words like "spoiled."

Advice to Generation Me:

-Limit your exposure to certain kinds of TV.
-Avoid overthinking.
-Value social relationships.
-Combat depression naturally.
-Cultivate realistic expectations.
-Get involved in the community.

So, a lot of information here, a lot that seems critical too, but I think that criticism is fear for how this selfish, self-centered group of individuals will become the future if we're only looking out for ourselves and our own self-interests.

So, what do you think of Generation Me or this newer geneation?

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