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August 18, 2006

Screw Self-Esteem

Yesterday I finished reading Generation Me by Jean Twenge. Using psychological survey data from the 1950s through the present, Twenge argues that it basically sucks to be a member of Generation Me, which she defines as people born between 1970 and 2000. Why does it suck? To begin with, we have been lied to all our lives. As a result of the disastrously misguided self-esteem movement, we have been told that we are the best (just like the children of Lake Wobegon, who are all "above average"), that we could do anything, and that the most important thing in the world is loving and appreciating ourselves. As a result, we grew up thinking that following our (often unrealistic dreams) was more important than building solid and support-giving relationships with friends, family members, and significant others, leaving us feeling depressed and anxious. We also grew up in a world where, although there are more opportunities now for women and people of color than there were in the past, the cost of living has gone up and real wages have gone down. Families need two incomes just to get by, and it is much harder for us to buy houses than it was for our parents. So we were raised with unrealistic expectations, and are entering an adulthood in which these expectations are less likely than ever to be met. That would be worth drinking over -- if I could afford to!

Posted by eklanche at August 18, 2006 10:58 AM


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