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20-Somethings: Generation Of The Coddled And Entitled?

Is the "everybody-gets-a-trophy generation” more narcissistic than those before them?

“Unlike many of their boomer parents, millennials are not changing the world through calls for revolution and political movements. But like the boomers, observers of this generation say millennials have made a loud entrance onto the national stage. So what does it mean to be a millennial?”

Diane Rehm posed that question to guests Monday during her regular radio show produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.

Millennials, generally defined as adults between the ages of 18 to 33, may have morals and values that seem different to those of previous generations, and questions were raised Monday during Rehm's show as to whether they feel entitled.

Rehm’s guest millennials said they felt let down by society. After growing up in the prosperous 1990s and then coming of age as the economy collapsed, some said they were duped.

“It's not entitlement when someone makes a promise to you and then as a society fails to live up to the promise of what they told you your world was going to be like,” David Burstein told Rehm, adding that society didn't keep "the promises that they made to this generation.”

Rehm asked rhetorically, “Of course you've heard the statement from many people that there are no guarantees in this life.”

The younger generation agreed with Rehm, but on the issue of college debt they held their ground, saying the current U.S. system of student loans creates a have and have-not class system: Wealthy parents pay for their kids’ college education, less affluent students take out loans and are saddled with debt after graduation, they argued.

Twenty-something Hannah Seligson said student debt among the have-nots “is unconscionable” and “a true scandal.”

Rehm asked Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center for his opinion on whether such thinking was “entitled.”

“ … Psychologists who look at personality attributes have suggested that there is some level of narcissism in this generation that's higher than previous generations," Taylor said. "If I were to locate a proximate cause of that I think I might go to the parenting styles of this generation. There's been a lot of literature on this generation was raised as a pretty coddled generation. The everybody-gets-a-trophy generation.”

Still, the millennials may have a lot to offer in terms of forward thinking, it was suggested on Rehm’s show. The generation seems far less concerned about social issues like gay marriage and interracial marriage. Also, without jobs and with mounting student debt, the younger generation is being forced to think in entrepreneurial ways, rather than finding a job through an employer, it was suggested.

And digital technology may be where many turn.

“The millennial generation is the first generation of digital natives,” Taylor said. “For this generation, of course, it's the only world they've ever known, and they are able to adapt to it and take it to places that the rest of us will be chasing them.”

Click here to listen to the full show or read the full transcript.

Lauren Vento February 20, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Also, I love that my generation is known for accepting one another exactly the way we are. Living the life of love is so much better than a life of judgement.
Toni McAllister (Editor) February 20, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Thanks for weighing in LaurenV. Things are indeed different for your generation!
Toni McAllister (Editor) February 20, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Agree, you guys are generally so much more open-minded on social issues.
Erik M February 20, 2013 at 07:48 PM
How many 18-33 year olds have public employee golden parachute pensions, and have built an arbitrarily inflated economic society based on writing checks that my "entitled" and "everyone gets a trophy" generation will have to pay for!? If anything my generation should be called the "fix all the stupid greedy mistakes the previous generation made" generation.
Toni McAllister (Editor) February 20, 2013 at 08:05 PM
I like the revised title for your generation!
Lauren Vento February 20, 2013 at 08:10 PM
How exactly is accepting people lifestyle choices not taking responsibility of myself financially?
T 22 February 20, 2013 at 08:26 PM
I agree with you LarenV. My husband and I were talking about this. Just the price of gas alone, we wonder how our daughter and her husband do it, with childcare and gas prices, sheesh
Martha L. Bridges February 20, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Oh, there you go again, Arthur, with the "sissy liberal mentality" comments; using that label to blame the liberals for just about anything and everything that might be wrong. You need to be reminded that it was a so-called "compassionate conservative" president and a republican administration that took us into an immoral, unjustifiable and unwinnable war that they had no plans to pay for...while they hacked away at the financial regulations that were supposed to stop the banks and lending institutions from sinking us into the worst economic recession since the great depression. Lauren V is quite correct. Her generation is facing an economy that is very different, and we must support the President in laying down a strong new foundation from which we can move forward again.
Lauren Vento February 20, 2013 at 08:43 PM
And one last thing, I don't think its fair to compare those of us born before 1985 and those born after. Us now 30(ish) year olds didn't grow up with social medial, smart phones, or i-anythings... Those came along after we became adults. This myspace/facebook/iphone generation that is now reaching adulthood has a much different perception of life than we did 10+ years ago.
Erik M February 20, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Gas prices, taxes, cost of education, government spending, and debt have all skyrocketed. We must have a different understanding of what a benefit is.
One Voice February 20, 2013 at 10:55 PM
I of course disagree with Martha, this President will do nothing but leave mass debt to our kids and Grandkids. I don't think that this generation is about entitlement at all, I think that they are just expecting society to give to them, when we all know your life is how you make it, you choose your own destiny, you work hard, do without out and sacrifice, my generation sure did. Sure times are tough, they were tough when I grew up too, and my parents lived the great depression and we all know how that went. Life and the cost of living is relevant thru history too today. Gas was years ago say $1.50 a gallon, but wages, food, and housing were also a lot cheaper. Today with everyone making higher wages, of course the price of everything else goes up with it. If you live in the midwest, the housing market is cheaper, gas is cheaper and so is food, but so are the wages. It is all relevant.
tom February 20, 2013 at 11:40 PM
50s 60s cost of house fathers income for one year. Mustang priced for high school student to buy. This generation where never taught work ethic. No chores no paper wrought,mowing lawns,bagging groceries.
Steve February 20, 2013 at 11:40 PM
This Country has always been at war. Life is about going out there and making your life happen, it's not society or anyone else that keeps someone from working hard, gettin what they want and most of all living within their means. People been doing it for generations, and generations, it is not any different. Entiteled, narcissistic, lazy is more like it. You want something go get it, all it takes is hard work.
Brad February 21, 2013 at 03:41 AM
I worry that the people born at the tail end of the 90's who are graduating high school now, won't know what America used to be like and think this is the norm. America isn't even close what I remember it to be when I was growing up in the 90's, it's changed for the worse and I often worry where we are headed. Social Media and Facebook games has really made the majority of younger Americans so ignorant, clueless, and careless. Instead of worrying about their country, they are too preoccupied with iDevices. Some have even admitted to me that they "just don't care". I worry there will be no more Thomas Jefferson's, Albert Eisenstein's, George Washington's, or any "great thinkers" in the future. I think today's ease of communications is to blame. It's to blame for allowing seedy corporations to hire offshore workers who can work over the internet and remote call centers, etc. Communication is to blame for the new trend of disposable friends... hey you can just meet more on Facebook! I find it really sad.
Erica February 21, 2013 at 03:41 AM
LaurenV: Exceptionally, well written point. I could not agree with you more. I too relate to your situation. I don't ever recall being given everything either. I had to work for everything I had. I'm not sure it's even fair for this article to make such a generalization about 'this' particular generation (I fall just on the cusp of this generation). Steve it sounds like you have issues more deeply rooted than with this issue alone. Is it possible you aren't angry for something you failed at achieving during 'this' time period or up till now?
Arthur Spooner February 21, 2013 at 05:40 AM
Martha i hate to remind you but democrats also voted to to war. I am guessing you had a flag up on your yard after 9/11 when the country came together as one. Remember those days?? It isn't that way any more. Everyone is selfish and has a case of the gimme gimmes! Obama is Santa Claus now. He is so "Cool" isn't he? Is that why you like him? He is cool??? you are as bad as these young hipsters that are clueless.
Arthur Spooner February 21, 2013 at 05:43 AM
I think that kids today are narcissists. When you watch these reality shows you see it. That generation wants instant gratification.
Arthur Spooner February 21, 2013 at 05:45 AM
T22 the current administration needs to remove the taxes on the fuel then we would not be getting gouged like we are!
Artemis Gordon February 21, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Yet we remember how pelosi, boxer, feinstein, reid and all their minions and the media clamored for President Bush's Head over gas prices under TWO BUCKS per Gallon. Now, socialistic liberals are all, ALL, Silent, yet they bitch and moan when non-socialistic non-liberal citizens criticize and question obummers policies and constant mistakes. Some names are intentionally not capitalized as a show of utter disgust and total lack of respect
Melodie . February 21, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Wake up call for the entitlement generation: Start shopping at the Goodwill (G & W's) and Salvation Army (Sal's), quit eating out, especially fast food, and shut off your cable or dish TV....you'd be amazed at how much more money you'll have in your pockets and how much more time you'll have....and if you're smart, you'll stop whining and start reading....the public library is FREE.
Arthur Spooner February 21, 2013 at 03:46 PM
AG you are so right!
Arthur Spooner February 21, 2013 at 03:49 PM
In all fairness, none of my nieces or nephews or even my children act like entitled, coddled brats. I am guessing its because we all raised our kids like my parents did. GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GET A JOB!!! That was my dad talking right there! If you don't like the job, then get a different one. Another thing we say to our kids, going to work isn't fun, thats why they call it "work" if it were supposed to be fun, they would call it going to "fun"!
Arthur Spooner February 21, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Amen Melodie!!!! They all have smartphones and nice cars too. I can remember not having anything when our kids were small. We went without. Instead of whining about it and asking for handouts. We survived! These kids need to learn how to survive too!
Arthur Spooner February 21, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Erik I get what you are saying, but not all of us in the previous generation did that. Majority of my people are hard working and did not raise kids like the above generation. Honestly, I think every kid needs to flip burgers and wear a paper hat to get it!
Erik M February 21, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Arthur, I agree that not everyone from the previous generation perpetuated the flaws of our society. Just as not everyone from my generation is lazy and entitled with no work ethic.
Joy February 21, 2013 at 05:08 PM
I will agree with you, as I'm part of your generation. We have horrible circumstances that have led to wildly skyrocketing costs just to survive. College is a huge expense and jobs are hard to come by, even with a degree. We live in Southern California, where owning a car isn't optional, and in households with kids two cars are almost always a necessity. Daycare costs more than many salaries can cover. However, I think many of our generation are entitled narcissists (not that I'm saying at all you are). There is war -- but there was for our parent's generation, too (remember Vietnam?). Many of our parents paid their own college tuition by working full time while attending college -- we want to go to school, and work part time as a last resort. Still, I see many of those who complain that they can't get by with smart phones and really nice cars (what's wrong with used?) and nice clothes and pretty manicures and extensions... It's a matter of balancing wants and needs, and overcoming the "keeping up with the Jonses" mentality. BUT the reality is that salaries simply haven't increased to match the rate of inflation on everything else combined. If you were simply matching the increase in cost of housing, it might be enough, but EVERYTHING has increased in cost, and our generation is drowning. There is simply some truth in both sides of the argument, and the Millennials need to stop blaming their parents, and their parents need to show some compassion!
Joy February 21, 2013 at 05:15 PM
You obviously didn't live in my house! I had plenty of chores (as do my kids). But I agree, things have changed. The pricing of "big purchases" was much more realistic. Debt was incurred only in extreme circumstances, or for major purchases -- like a mortgage. Who's to blame for this change?
Susan Marsh February 21, 2013 at 07:12 PM
I think Joy made some excellent points as have many others. There are far too many generalization in this article, on this subject. I think most of us can agree, right now things are really tough, especially on kids getting out of college right now. I am the mother of 3 "kids" in this age group. I think we did our kids a disservice by the "everyone's a winner" attitude. This is not the fault of the young people today, it is just a fact, a lot of them do not have the patience or stick to it ness of previous generations (especially the kids born after 1999). Everything is at their fingertips, available without thought, planning or much effort. Where I had to go to the library and read dozens of books to do a report, now I can "google it". I don't even have to read entire article, I can refine my search. I don't have to know the names of the streets in my city or learn to read a map. I have GPS or my phone can read me the directions (if I am poor I can google or quest for directions before I leave home). I don't have to go to the library to look for books or reserve books I want to check out, I down load them to computer or hand held device. My device stores the books so I don't even have to clean off my book shelf to make room for books. We have trained the kids to expect things immediately, for things to be available. We have neglected to teach patience and determination (once again, we should stop generalizing).
tom February 23, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Today Einstein and Jefferson would be diagnosed with A D D and drugged out of their skull.
SPB February 26, 2013 at 08:39 PM
I don't know. I seem to run into baby boomers on a daily basis who don't understand what socialism is. I think stupidity is prevalent across the age spectrum.

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