Generation Me : Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before
The Associated Press calls them "The Entitlement Generation," and they are storming into schools, colleges, and businesses all over the country. They are today's young people, a new generation with sky-high expectations and a need for constant praise and fulfillment. In this provocative new book, headline-making psychologist and social commentator Dr. Jean Twenge documents the self-focus of what she calls "Generation Me" -- people born in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Herself a member of Generation Me, Dr. Twenge explores why her generation is tolerant, confident, open-minded, and ambitious but also cynical, depressed, lonely, and anxious.
Using findings from the largest intergenerational study ever conducted -- with data from 1.3 million respondents spanning six decades -- Dr. Twenge reveals how profoundly different today's young adults are -- and makes controversial predictions about what the future holds for them and society as a whole. But Dr. Twenge doesn't just talk statistics -- she highlights real-life people and stories and vividly brings to life the hopes and dreams, disappointments and challenges of Generation Me.With a good deal of irony, humor, and sympathy she demonstrates that today's young people have been raised to aim for the stars at a time when it is more difficult than ever to get into college, find a good job, and afford a house -- even with two incomes. GenMe's expectations have been raised just as the world is becoming more competitive, creating an enormous clash between expectations and reality. Dr. Twenge also presents the often-shocking truths about her generation's dramatically different sexual behavior and mores.
GenMe has created a profound shift in the American character, changing what it means to be an individual in today's society. Engaging, controversial, prescriptive, and often funny, Generation Me will give Boomers new insight into their offspring, and help GenMe'ers in their teens, 20s, and 30s finally make sense of themselves and their goals and find their road to happiness.
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April 10, 2006
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Excerpt from Generation Me by Jean M. Twenge
You Don't Need Their Approval:
The Decline of Social Rules
Getting dressed in the morning is a fundamentally different experience today than it was forty years ago. For all of Generation Me's lifetime, clothes have been a medium of self-expression, an individual choice in a range of alternatives and comfort. Contrast this to past decades, when men wore ties most of the time and women did not leave the house without crisp white gloves and a tight girdle. Pictures of crowds in the early 1960s show quaint sights like men wearing three-piece suits at baseball games and ladies lined up in identical-length skirts. To GenMe, these images look like people on an alien planet ' who wears a suit to a baseball game
Even our shoes are different. Today's casual footwear is called tennis shoes because people once wore them only to play tennis or basketball. Not even kids wore these types of shoes on the street ' their shoes were made of stiff leather, just like adults'.
Now that's all but forgotten. Except in the most formal of workplaces, few men wear suits to work anymore, and virtually no one wears them to baseball games. Women have (thankfully) abandoned wearing tight girdles and white gloves everywhere they go (and many young women don't even know what a girdle is). The trend toward more informal dress has accelerated in the past ten years, with many companies opting for "business casual" and others going for just plain casual. The trend reached all the way to the top in July 2005, when about half the members of the Northwestern University women's lacrosse team wore flip-flops during their White House visit, resulting in a picture of the president of the United States standing next to several young women wearing shoes that were once reserved for walking on sand or showering in skuzzy gymnasiums. Although most people still want to look good, we are a much more informal and accepting society than we once were. This is a perfect illustration of generational trends in attitudes, as the entire point in dressing up is to make a good impression on others and elicit their approval. You don't dress formally for yourself or for your comfort; if you really wanted to do things "your way" and just for yourself, you'd wear jeans to work. And, of course, many of us already do.