Many things have been said about today’s college students – and none of them are good. Not surprisingly, the Baby Boomers lead the charge against us. They’re our parents, and mom and dad would sooner blame their kids for being bad kids than blame themselves for being bad parents. They say we’re lazy, peevish, ungrateful, self-centered, self-destructive technology junkies and have duly branded us Generation Me, a.k.a. the iGeneration. They bemoan that when we take power, our skewed perceptions and ineptitude are certain to hasten the downfall of America.
A recent study purports to confirm at least some of our parents’ fears. Its authors, a group of five psychologists, claim that current college students are more narcissistic and egocentric than their predecessors. The quantitative evidence of professional researchers carries more weight than the bitter generalizations of our elders, so if these claims are valid, we should fess up to our shortcomings. Maybe we really are Generation Me. But are these claims valid?
To test the researcher’s conclusions, I performed my own scientific study. I compiled a rigorous questionnaire, consisting of three questions, and administered it to a group of study subjects, made up of a single individual. Normally the representative efficacy of a sample group of one would be questionable, but this one is the most important one of all: Me.
I sat down with Me at Naan Stop, my favorite place to ask myself questions and answer them out-loud.
Zach: “Thank you for meeting with me today.
Zach: “Maybe it would help if you turned off your iPod.”
Zach: “Yeah, whatever. Just don’t call it my iPod. It’s my escape Pod and it saves me from this cruel, sinking ship we call America.”
Zach: “Narcissism often corresponds with an inability to maintain meaningful, intimate relationships. Do you have this problem?”
Zach: “No. Never. I treat my friendships like scholarships. I give each of my friends a weekly grade based on their friendship performance and if they get below a B-, I cut them loose. It’s not too hard to score in the B range. Just never interrupt me when I’m talking, give me free stuff and absolutely never ever whine about your problems. This one time I did pretty badly on a midterm and I was telling some guy who’s name I don’t remember about it, and he’s like, ‘My dad, mom and little sister were killed in a train wreck yesterday,’ and I was like, ‘Whatever, dude, don’t be such a crybaby.'”
Zach: “Yeah, true story. Needless to say, I had to give him a C- that week.”
Zach: “Of course. Here’s another question. How often do you shirk your responsibilities?”
Zach: “Never. I’ve always kept the one responsibility that matters – my responsibility to myself.”
Zach: “And what does that entail?”
Zach: “Doing what I want when I want.”
Zach: “How much time do you spend revising your Facebook and Myspace profiles each day?”
Zach: “Between 10 and 15 hours. If I see a movie that I really like or hear some cool new music, I need to make sure people know about it. They deserve that much. Currently I have 8,337 favorite movies, 22,522 favorite bands and 43,000 favorite books. And I don’t even have to read the books to know they’re my favorites. I judge them by their covers.”
Zach: “Do you think you’re superficial?”
Zach: “Nope. I think I’m super awesome.”
It doesn’t take any fancy statistical tests and overwrought scientific jargon to show that my results clearly refute the conclusions made by the so-called “psychologists.” Today’s college students exhibit a healthy amount of self-love, not an excess of it. I am right and they are wrong.