Glenn focused his TV show Wednesday night squarely on a growing, out of control entitlement society that had lost its connection to community and reality.
In the opening moments of the show, Glenn discussed a study that found that today’s college students have an inflated sense of ability and skills, especially compared to students in the 1960s. Despite their above average view of their own ability, their skills are actually less than those of students generations ago. At the same time, today’s students are focused on what is owed to them by society rather than on how they as individuals can contribute to improving their community.
This new mentality contrasts sharply the attitude of generations past. Earlier generations used to pursue American dream through ingenuity and hard work. If they were ultimately rewarded success, they considered themselves incredibly fortunate. Today, college students think they are owed this success but they don’t think it should come with any work.
The Guardian analyzed the details of the study:
Psychologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues compiled the data and found that over the last four decades there’s been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being ‘above average’ in the areas of academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability, and self-confidence.
But in appraising the traits that are considered less invidualistic – co-operativeness, understanding others, and spirituality – the numbers either stayed at slightly decreased over the same period.
Researchers also found a disconnect between the student’s opinions of themselves and actual ability.
This “ambition inflation” has perverted the American Dream. A country that was once full of people who believed in bettering themselves, hard work, self reliance, and personal responsibility has been replaced by one with a growing number of people focused on “me”. They want all of the success, all of the fame, and all of the recognition without any of the hard work or the willingness to put in the time.
Glenn invited Dr. Keith Campbell & Kay Wills Wyma onto the show to discuss the entitlement culture. Campbell laid out four key cultural trends that lead to the entitlement society: self-esteem movement, celebrity culture, emerging media, and the credit bubble.
The self-esteem movement sees parents giving their children unique names that separate them from the rest of their family. For example, there are multiple Edwards for a person to connect with, but only one “Blue Ivy”. The self-esteem movement also develops from kids learning songs about how special they are and winning trophies they didn’t deserve.
Celebrity culture sees a celebration of selfishness, bad behavior, and outrageousness. Just look at MTV and the cast of the Jersey Shore, a bunch of kids who got money and fame for being filmed drinking and partying. Then there are Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians who become famous for doing nothing.
Emerging media includes social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These disconnects people from the real world and plugs them into the virtual world instead. Here they become focused on virtual connections and a virtual self, rather than reality. While there are a lot of benefits to social networks, some kids are using them only for self-promotion which just feeds narcissism.
Finally, there has been a credit bubble where people no longer have to pay for things and live off credit rather than pay for things. Kids have trillions in student loan debt, and there are calls for the government to forgive this debt which only teaches students they don’t have to pay for what they have and there are no consequences for bad behavior.
But there are solutions, and they begin at home. Kay Wills Wyma said she had to fix the entitlement attitude in her kids, and she started by making them take responsibility for their chores at home. She had them learn to shop for groceries, to cook, and to clean up. Parents have to get over the convenience of doing things without the kids and help them understand the work that goes into getting chores done during the day.
“It’s fun to watch these kids. It takes mountains and changes them from obstacles to opportunities and that’s really start to go ‘I can do so much more than I though I could.,” she said.
Dr. Campbell added that people need to do what they are passionate about because when they do their ego disappears into the work they are doing. He also said that there also need to be real, natural consequences to accompany actions.