As a current member of this “narcissistic” generation, I felt my insight could be of some worth. Personally, I strongly disagree with Professor Twenge’s argument. In my own experience I have not encountered the narcissism epidemic she describes. Most of the individuals that I know of this current generation are rational and objective young adults who are aware of their abilities and limitations. Obviously individuals vary, but collectively I see no obvious difference in narcissism from one generation to another. And to be honest, I am a bit suspect of any study not being published in a scientific journal subjected to peer review. Instead Professor Twenge publishes her findings in a press release and her blog, coincidently just in time to help promote the launch of her new book. As expected the media quickly jumps on the story and before you know it she is on the Today Show, Tucker Carlson, and various local radio shows plugging her new book. Does any of this necessarily refute her theory? Of course not, but it is something that should be kept in mind when considering her study and motives.
Now as far as examining more concrete facts, Professor Twenge states, “These findings make me very, very worried. I’m concerned we are heading to a society where people are going to treat each other badly, either on the street or in relationships.” First, as I mentioned earlier, Twenge’s findings are based upon a very specific group of the population; college freshmen. Every scientific researcher knows that in order to get an accurate representation of a population, one must collect data from a large random sample otherwise you are left with a sample that possesses some common variable that could be misleading. To make such extreme assumptions about the general population of youths of today based upon the sample provided in Twenge’s study would be erroneous. Second, the facts about today’s youth simply do not support Professor Twenge’s theory. Things viewed as obvious indexes to narcissism, such as violent crime, pregnancy, abortion, and drug abuse rates have all significantly dropped statistically in young people since the 1980s. Many surveys also indicate that today’s youth are very close to their parents and family. Record numbers claim they "share their parent’s values" or "have no problem with any family member." Increasingly many say they want to live near their parents later in life. This would seem very unlikely if parents and family members were left to deal with unruly, selfish, narcissistic teenagers.
Frankly, with all the misleading broad assumptions, I feel that Professor Jean Twenge ought to change the title of her book from Generation Me to Generalize Me.