They might look calm, but they're deeply anxious about missing out on something better.Seventy percent of them check their phones every hour, and many experience phantom pocket-vibration syndrome.The information revolution has further empowered individuals by handing them the technology to compete against huge organizations: hackers vs. "It was an honest mistake," says Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University and the editor of Self-Esteem: The Puzzle of Low Self-Regard."The early findings showed that, indeed, kids with high self-esteem did better in school and were less likely to be in various kinds of trouble.Not only do millennials lack the kind of empathy that allows them to feel concerned for others, but they also have trouble even intellectually understanding others' points of view.What they do understand is how to turn themselves into brands, with "friend" and "follower" tallies that serve as sales figures.English teacher David Mc Cullough Jr.'s address last year to Wellesley High School's graduating class, a 12-minute reality check titled "You Are Not Special," has nearly 2 million hits on You Tube.
"People are inflating themselves like balloons on Facebook," says W.
Even in China, where family history is more important than any individual, the Internet, urbanization and the one-child policy have created a generation as overconfident and self-involved as the Western one. They have less civic engagement and lower political participation than any previous group.
And these aren't just rich-kid problems: poor millennials have even higher rates of narcissism, materialism and technology addiction in their ghetto-fabulous lives. This is a generation that would have made Walt Whitman wonder if maybe they should try singing a song of someone else.
Unlike my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents, I have proof.
They are fame-obsessed: three times as many middle school girls want to grow up to be a personal assistant to a famous person as want to be a Senator, according to a 2007 survey; four times as many would pick the assistant job over CEO of a major corporation.