Thursday, April 20, 2006

Video of the week - Why are younger Americans so miserable?

What happened to the Generation X over the last decade? Jean Twenge's interview (Internet Explorer required) on the Today sums up her book but I was actually more intrigued by reading the following Newsweek article.

Here's an excerpt from the article's introduction:

Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, examines the generation of Americans born after 1970 in her book, “Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable than Ever Before.” Twenge argues that younger people are more self-assured than their parents, but they also more depressed. She bases her argument on 14 years of research comparing the results of personality tests given to boomers when they were under 30 to those of the Gen-Me cohort today. Twenge, invited to appear on the “Today” show, places much of the blame on the self-esteem movement of the last few decades.

Any comments?


Sugarplum said...

I'm reading The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe right now -- I also read their book: 13th Gen: Abort, Ignore, Retry, Fail? and in both books, they talk about Generation X as being comparable to the Lost Generation that fought in WWI and raised children during the Great Depression. We were born in the "autumn" part of society's cycle and will come of age/power during the "winter." However, due to the hardships our generation (those born from 1961-1981) has had to face (neglect/overshadowing due to Baby Boomers as well as a society unraveling and crisis coming) we are the only ones in this cycle willing to do the hard stuff necessary to fix society, re-creating it into a better version than it is now.

My translation -- we're the only ones strong enough (due to hard stuff) to fix the problems created by the entitlement generation (GI's) and the baby boomers. They're too selfish and entitled to want to really and truly fix things. We have suffered and therefore can handle it.

Tuong Do said...

It looks like the boomers gave us the free love of the 60's and lots of social security payments. I have definitely seen an evolution of the Generation X over the last 10 years. We were the "grunge" types who were obligated to military service and felt little loyalty to our employers. We marry later and do not necessarily buy into the conventional American dream. At the same time, we are overshadowed by the Baby boomers. Some are old enough to remember the cold war, the birth of the internet boom, and now 9/11. It looks like the Xrs were caught between the end of events and the beginning of others. Yet we are now seeing a struggle between "red" and "blue" states. Evangelical Christians put George W. Bush back into office in 2004. Perhaps the winter is coming and we will have a revival of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" but that depends on unforeseen circumstances. I do agree with the article that Generation Y was really a poor label for a generation that has yet to gain its identity.

Tuong Do said...

Correct that, we were not obligated to military service.

Sugarplum said...

Who is Generation Y? I thought they were called the Millenials (those born from 1982-2002).

They are going to be similar to the so-called (but not in my opinion a correct picture) "Greatest Generation." Generation X is defined as those born between 1961 and 1981 (punk and grunge) -- we get the fun job of fixing the world.