Last night, 60 Minutes had a story about Millennials, the generation of 80 million kids born between 1980 and 1995. Morley Safer asks "who's to blame for the narcissistic praise hounds now taking over the office," and, I must add, the streets, the movie theaters, the subways, the media, everything.
From the 60 Minutes story, here are a few nuggets about Gen Y (Generation Yunnie?):
- They believe anyone over 30 is "old, redundant, should be retired." This is their attitude not only about human beings, but also about mom-and-pop businesses, old buildings, and ways of life. They value only the young and the new.
- Helicopter parents actually call their children's bosses and HR departments to complain about Junior's bad performance evaluations, the same way they complained to teachers about unsatisfactory grades.
- Says one of these kids, he wants lots of praise from his boss: "We want to hear it and truly we'd love for our parents to know. There's nothing better than Mom getting that letter saying, 'You know, Ryan did a great job. Yeah, I just wanted to let you know you raised a fantastic son.'"
- They cannot tolerate being told what to do or how to do it. Millions of dollars are being spent on consultants who tell bosses, basically, "Sweet talk these kids. Don't express disappointment in them. Praise them, let them arrange work around their yoga schedules, and give them lots of rewards--just for showing up."
As 60 Minutes says, these kids were "raised by doting parents who told them they are special" and "They are laden with trophies just for participating." Now, consultants to companies are telling managers to continue this same enabling behavior.
This does nothing to actually support a person's true self. People with narcissistic personalities may appear to be "shiny, happy" people, but, truly, they are empty people. They spent their entire lives being puffed up with empty praise and empty rewards, while their true selves were ignored or shut down. Consequently, they do not feel connected to themselves and have great difficulty connecting with others.
The extreme end of narcissism is sociopathy. What will our city, and our world, look like when it is controlled by 100 million sociopaths?