In the 1980's there was a strong push to build the self-esteem of our children. This movement found many children mindlessly singing with their teachers,
I am special, I am special, look at me, look at me! (“Frere Jacques”)
However, this movement has had some negative consequences. Recent comprehensive studies by five psychologists reveal what many of you may have already suspected: Today’s college students, having sung the song, have bought the hype. They are decidedly more self-centered than their predecessors. From 1982 to 2006, 16,475 college students completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). The standard inventory asks for rated responses to such statements as, "If I ruled the world it would be a better place," "I think I am a special person," and "I can live my life the way I want to." The nationwide results were quite telling.
In fact, they were so negative that the study’s leading author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University said, “We need to stop endlessly (telling our kids) ‘You’re special’. Kids are self-centered enough already.” And this sentiment is setting them up for failure. The study asserts that our sophmoric narcissists "are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors.”
Current technology fuels the increase in self-centeredness. Just consider the names of our favorite online pass times: YouTube and MySpace. We may have a shortage of oil, a shortage of backbone in our politicians and a shortage of money to pay our debts, but there’s one thing we have a surplus of in this country: Pride.