Monday, June 20, 2011

Narcissism and the Cute Movement

Lou Brooks

I've speculated before about the psychology of the young people who, in various public demonstrations, seem determined to show everyone else how cute and clever they are. I call it the Cute Movement---Critical Mass, the annual pillow fight downtown, the Parking Day demos, Bay to Breakers, etc. 

An article in the current Atlantic Monthly explores the psychology of a generation raised by their parents on self-esteem principles, which is creating "a burgeoning generational narcissism that's hurting our kids":

A few months ago, I called up Jean Twenge, a co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic and professor of psychology at San Diego State University, who has written extensively about narcissism and self-esteem. She told me she wasn’t surprised that some of my patients reported having very happy childhoods but felt dissatisfied and lost as adults. When ego-boosting parents exclaim “Great job!” not just the first time a young child puts on his shoes but every single morning he does this, the child learns to feel that everything he does is special. 

Likewise, if the kid participates in activities where he gets stickers for “good tries,” he never gets negative feedback on his performance. (All failures are reframed as “good tries.”) According to Twenge, indicators of self-esteem have risen consistently since the 1980s among middle-school, high-school, and college students. But, she says, what starts off as healthy self-esteem can quickly morph into an inflated view of oneself—a self-absorption and sense of entitlement that looks a lot like narcissism. In fact, rates of narcissism among college students have increased right along with self-esteem...

“Narcissists are happy when they’re younger, because they’re the center of the universe,” Twenge explains. “Their parents act like their servants, shuttling them to any activity they choose and catering to their every desire. Parents are constantly telling their children how special and talented they are. This gives them an inflated view of their specialness compared to other human beings. Instead of feeling good about themselves, they feel better than everyone else.”

Sound familiar?



At 11:03 AM, Anonymous soap-box said...

"shuttling them to any activity they choose"

You can thank a car-centric world for that. Children aren't given independence in gradual steps (e.g. getting milk from the corner store, walking/biking themselves to work or practice, etc). They are raised to completely depend on their parents and, in turn, the parents strain and stretch themselves to do everything and be everywhere for their children. Of course these kids grow up with little-to-no sense of responsibility and an inflated egos from years of being chauffeured and waited upon.

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Projection is a helluva drug...

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So that explains Rob Anderson. Now I get it.

At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Your Neighbor said...

Most of Rob's opinions are based on gross generalizations and, occasionally, anecdotal evidence. "Bike people" = "progressives" = "young people" = "jerks acting out their daddy issues", and so on. How nice it must be to live in a world ruled by such simplistic notions.

This blog is not worth your time, people. Move along.

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Rocky's Pop said...

Robby don't like no logic, huh soap-box?

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The twenty somethings living in my neighborhood are for the most part ok... but more than an average number have a sense of entitlement. What really burns me is that they don't join in when it comes time to help out the neighborhood they live in. We have a monthly clean up day where we pick up trash, paint out tags etc. They just are not interested in the circle beyond themselves, or they have commitments as they dash off on their single speed bikes, black belts, and nazi looking hats. What with that hat anyway??

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a better, finer world, parents put worthless rug-rats in their place:

"Kid, I put food in your belly, clothes on your back and a roof over your head. The rest is up to you. I got better things to do than listen to you worthless whiney brats. Now go scoop the dog-dirt from the back yard for your dinner."

Naw, in the good ol' days, parents didn't molly coddle a bunch of S.F.B. brats.

Seems today's parents didn't learn a damn thing from their 'rents.

At 8:54 AM, Anonymous fixer said...

So you don't mention all the old fucks in SF that want nothing to change ever. Life moves on. Rob, your generation had a say and it fucked up. Now it's our turn to right the wrongs you and so many other clueless fucks brought on.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Fucked what up? Could you provide some specifics? San Francisco was a great city before you punks showed up, and it will still be after you've worked out your Mommy and Daddy issues on our streets, got married, moved to the suburbs with your bikes, your dog, and your kids.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous fixer said...

Your generation is responsible for the suburban bullshit we have to deal with now. The reason SF is clogged with cars is because people, your lazy ass generation, is trying to bring the suburbs to SF with their cars and expectations that a parking spot should always be waiting for them.

SF was a fine city before Fell and Oak were turned into urban freeways and once we get bike lanes on them and slow them down, they'll be returned to their original grandeur (and you can add Masonic to that as well).

This is a dense city, not a parking lot like most people want it to be. There is a reason SF is a tourist destination, and it isn't to see all the fucking cars.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I first lived in SF in 1961, and it may be news to you, but there were plenty of cars on city streets then. In fact there have been cars on our streets for more than 100 years. Fell and Oak were one-way streets even then.

Many---perhaps most---tourists drive in SF either in their own cars or in rented cars. Maybe we should make them ride bikes to the city from the airport.

Yes, SF is the second most densely-populated city in the country, second only to New York, which is why it's so stupid to deliberately make traffic worse than it already is with bike lanes and other anti-car policies.

There are 461,827 motor vehicles registered in SF, and 46% of city residents get to work by car, 31.8% commute via public transportation, while only 2.1% ride bikes to work.

That means the city is supposed to redesign our streets on behalf of a small minority of narcissistic punks like you?

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous fixer said...

You already fucked the city by 1961. Those one ways are from 1940-50s planning to prioritize the car over everything else. Hm, I wonder why the car dominates?

The city is 7 miles across, there is zero reason to have that kind of car ownership density. Once again, it was your generation who fucked up and now you are blaming younger people for growing up in your fucked up world.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Look, nobody is forced to buy a car. People like cars because they give them great mobility in their lives---for work, shopping, recreation, etc. What part of the US doesn't make room for motor vehicles---cars, trucks---all our goods are delivered in trucks---and buses?

Put your bike fantasy on the ballot in SF so that we could learn what the people of the city really think about you jerks.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous fixer said...

"Look, nobody is forced to buy a car."

Wow, you are fucking retarded. Really? Not forced? When we build for cars we force people to buy them. SF is one of the few walkable places left in America and people like you are trying to ruin that with your 6 lane roads who just can't seem to give up.

But really, that is the most classic uniformed comment you've ever made, and that is saying A LOT.

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peak oil

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Peak Bullshit


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