|Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before
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Called "The Entitlement Generation" or Gen Y, they are storming into schools, colleges, and businesses all over the country. In this provocative new book, headline-making psychologist and social commentator Dr. Jean Twenge explores why the young people she calls "Generation Me" -- those born in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s -- are tolerant, confident, open-minded, and ambitious but also cynical, depressed, lonely, and anxious.
Herself a member of Generation Me, Dr. Twenge uses findings from the largest intergenerational research study ever conducted -- with data from 1.3 million respondents spanning six decades -- to reveal how profoundly different today's young adults are. Here are the often shocking truths about this generation, including dramatic differences in sexual behavior, as well as controversial predictions about what the future holds for them and society as a whole. Her often humorous, eyebrow-raising stories about real people vividly bring to life the hopes and dreams, disappointments and challenges of Generation Me.
GenMe has created a profound shift in the American character, changing what it means to be an individual in today's society. The collision of this generation's entitled self-focus and today's competitive marketplace will create one of the most daunting challenges of the new century. Engaging, controversial, prescriptive, funny, Generation Me will give Boomers new insight into their offspring, and help those in their teens, 20s, and 30s finally make sense of themselves and their goals and find their road to happiness.
- Decent read, a little Stats heavy
I liked this book and found it an easy read. It's a subject that we all need to pay more attention to and discuss. I found it a bit heavy on the statistics, but that is the field the author works in... Apart from the good explanations and research to backup her theories, the good doctor presents her case clearly and logically (almost redundantly, due to overwhelming research), but in a straightforwad manner. The book could have used one more edit, it needed to be more succint. However, I got a great deal out of it and I recommend reading it to anyone interested in understanding why the Gen X and Gen Y folks are so stuck, upset and demanding of entitlement. It presents no solutions or politicized suggestions, but rather a survey of FACTS. I applaud it's neutral stance, but it did leave me wondering what the projection of future events might be, after all, why else study statistics?...more info
- Worthwhile reading, but with a grain of salt
I wanted to read this book to better understand the younger people in my life, and it is of value in many ways, as dozens of other reader/ reviewers have noted.
I also agree with some of her conclusions: For example, many of today's young people seem to have a very difficult time accepting criticism, and have an exaggerated idea of their own importance and abilities.
However, there is one area of discussion that I disagree with, and that is that 'Generation Me' has it harder than previous ones. Yes, there is more competition and fewer opportunities, partially due to corporate downsizing and shipping jobs to India, etc. But at the same time, some of the competition is due to the fact that both men and women are in the mix. In earlier generations, men would have had the field more to themselves. In fact, if the author had graduated from high school when I or my mom and grandmother did, she may not have had the opportunity to enter the field of sociology as a professional, let alone have a serious book published, and if she did, fewer would have read it because she's a woman, and women weren't taken as seriously in intellectual pursuits. Women of my generation had very little career or professional opportunities, generally, and fewer people were even able to attend college. (I'm not sure there were even Pell Grants) In addition, immigrants from other countries -- then and perhaps even now -- have a much harder time 'making it' in our culture...In this particular regard, her viewpoint seems as narcisstic as she may feel these kids are....more info
- A sad, distorted perspective
Unlike Twenge, who uses about two hundred more pages than necessary to lay out her argument, I will try and keep this brief and to the point.
1. I find it intriguing that someone who has spent their entire adult life cloistered in the world of academia could in good conscious bring together disparate, unrelated studies spread out over three decades to support what is clearly a personal anti self-esteem agenda. You don't have to get far into this book to experience Twenge's venomous disdain for young people.
2. Interestingly, Twenge has conveniently "collapsed" numerous generations together in order to fit her research methodologies. For example, she uses a very broad timeframe of 1971-2006 to present her data on Generation Me while most reputable generational analysts seek to analyze generational trends in roughly two decade increments. Thus, with the approach employed, Twenge includes elements of three living generations: Generation X, the Millennial Generation, and the youngest (and yet to be named) generation in her analysis. This said, her work may provide some merit in addressing a societal trend but it falls woefully short of helping anyone understand a particular generation.
3. Related to the above point, Twenge's broad use of the Generation Me label to accommodate her research bias has in fact contributed to a false categorization of our youngest Americans. If you don't believe me, take a look at the new cover, in which the tattooed open mid-riff is clearly a swipe at what she views as an inappropriate means of self expression in an overindulged group of young people.
4. Lastly, Twenge is quick to discount many of the positive contributions of young people, dismissing such elements as increased youth volunteer rates as something "mandated by schools" vice a genuine desire to serve their communities at large.
Overall, the book bothered me less than Twenge's continued use of personal observations, antidotal evidence, and overt disdain for young people. Through a combination of slick marketing and statistical deception, Twenge has managed to use outdated and irrelevant data to further what clearly appears to be a personal agenda against the very students she is supposed to be teaching.
All in all, a disappointing piece of arrogant, judgmental writing--if you feel compelled to read this, please do so cautiously.
- Huge disappointment
Having struggled to get through the introduction, I knew I would be in for a rough ride. Dr. Twenge not only is a relentless practioner of the "why limit to two pages what you can redundantly pad into 20?" school of writing, but she lamentably forces her GenX credentials by supporting her insights with attempts at world-weary humor that tries to scream out "duh!"
The overview of Boomers in chapter one is old hat -- only it's supposed to be about GenMe. Maybe she got her dates wrong? And then chapter two promises to show us how GenMe is different from the Boomers, but the profile of the former is really just an outline of what the latter matured into. Dr. Twenge doesn't seem to realize that much of what she portrays here is what happened to the USA as a whole from the '70s on, not a phenomenon that defines a single generation.
- An employer's perspective
I think this book explains a great deal about the attitudes of the current generation.
I can understand how the self-esteem movement got started: if children are constantly told "you're stupid, you're ugly, you can't do anything right, you'll never amount to anything", they will think poorly of themselves and grow up to be under-achievers because they lack self-confidence.
it does not follow that children who are constantly told how fabulous, wonderful and special they are will grow up to be successful adults!
Case in point: a twenty-something of my acquaintance quit her highly-paid job in outrage because her supervisor dared to criticize her! His criticism? That clients and co-workers were complaining that she was rude and patronizing towards them...
Another case: a Canadian Idol judge expressed his amazement, in an interview, that would-be contestants reacted with incredulity when told they had absolutely no talent and should forget their dreams of becoming a singing star. They were convinced, he said, that if they wanted to be a star badly enough, then they would become a star...just because they wanted it.
So, to all the reviewers who have reacted quite nastily to this book and the author's premise - she's right! ...more info
- From a Middle School Teacher
Excellent read addressing issues of the teens today. As a teacher of 11-14 year olds and being in my 20s, I identify with this book on almost all levels. I also find myself quoting this and recommending to everyone. It's definitely being a Christmas gift for some colleagues and family members this year!...more info
- Great Book
If you want to know more about a generation & how to deal with this one, BUY THIS BOOK! She does a great job of explaining issues and citing facts with sarcasm, it's a wonderful read....more info
- Twenge is the master cartographer of a generation in dire need of a new and more accurate map.
This book is a tremendous, and responsible, gathering of statistical research and social proof of an American generation that needs nothing more than a clear picture of their reality.
Twenge has searched high and low in her effort to collect relevant evidence to support the subtitle's proclamation. She reveals data in a responsible and palatable manner, and provides thoughtful insights replete with suggestions on how we correct our course of action.
These insights will be helpful to business professionals, managers, recruiters, educators and members of GenMe alike. Its no-fluff reporting leaves only the meat and potatoes that will awaken us all.
As a member of GenMe, I was thrilled to uncover the basis for our generation's shortcomings. Now I don't feel so alone. It's paramount to our future that we, as a generation, realign our expectations and focus on hard work over instant gratification to improve ourselves and our society. It's no wonder that Hesse's Siddhartha resonates so well with this generation; a generation given so much, yet fall so far short when it comes to the pursuit and the discovery of happiness. So much in fact, that happiness itself has become a cottage industry in the U.S.
After reading this book I watched an hour of television and it was as if I had a secret decoder ring. The messages we're bombarded with, while good intentioned, lead us down a path to social destruction. GenMe provides us with a B.S. decoder ring that enables society to find a more suitable road to economic and educational prosperity, which begins in the hearts and minds of us all.
To borrow from New York Magazine author Jennifer Senior and her recent article The Science of Burnout (Dec. 4, 2006) "Happiness equals reality divided by expectations" and as such it's no wonder why GenMe suffers from burnout more than previous generations. We live in a time of unprecedented celebrity worship and baseless self-esteem boosting that has horrific side effects. As such, members of GenMe have expectations that are increasingly out of whack with reality for all the reasons set forth in this ¨¹ber-comprehensive body of work.
I highly recommend this book to inquisitive minds and idealists alike.
Bravo Jean M. Twenge! Bravo!
Derek from Chicago.
- Fantastic, engaging review of the generation
I thoroughlly enjoyed this book. Dr. Twenge does a great deal of research and presents it all in a non-confusing, non-overwhelming manner. It's an engaging book and gave me quite a bit to think about. I have recommended this book already half a dozen times to collegues and friends who are interested in engaging Gen-Me.
(disclosure: I'm a Gen-Me. I resonated with a lot of the book from that perspective although I originally read it to understand the younger part of the Gen-Me demographic.)...more info
- insightful and accessible
This book was most helpful. Written by a PhD, you don't need one to understand it and still there is plenty of information rather than fluff.
- Generation self-centered and unstructured
Initially I was excited by this book. As an anthropologist, the many differences between generations are a subject that never fails to fascinate. Unfortunately, while the author tosses out great statistics indicating fair research, she couches it all in an `I, me, my, mine' framework. This focuses the book not so much on a generation that may differ from those who came before but on the author herself, her education, her college years, and her friends. The overall impression is an unstructured book justifying why they themselves are having trouble with the joys and trials of living life.
If the reader is looking for another whining confused confessional please continue. If you are looking for a book that may lend insight in to why the under 30 crowd do what they do then I would recommend that you read elsewhere.
- Fun and quick read
I loved the book. I read two of her peer-reviewed studies before buying the book and the studies look very solid. I highly recommend this as a fun and quick read. ...more info
- an understanding
I highly recommend this book. Reading it not only helped me to understand the college students I work with but also gave me reassurance about my own goals and ambitions. I gave a copy of it to my father for Christmas, so he could understand his "Generation Me" children. ...more info
I find myself quoting this book to people and recommending it to just about everyone. Though the author can get a little redundant and caught up in statistics, if you're interested in human behavior, you might want to check this book out....more info
- Generation ME Review
After reading the back cover, I really looked forward to this book. When I got about half way through the book, I was very disappointed.
I was required to read this book for an English Rhetoric class earlier this year. I read the book in about a day and in the end, realized, I just wasted a few hours of my life. The vast majority of this book is common sense. You don't need to write a book talking about how "Generation Me" (current generation) is more independent than the Baby Boomer Generation or that College is becoming more competitive for the current generation than the past one. If "Generation Me" was half the length and more compressed I would have rated this book higher. But it is not, and because of that I rated the book a one because the information is common sense and dragged out.
Twenge's book "Generation Me" is an awful book that is well marketed. I could but only hope you do not take the time to read this poorly written book....more info
- What every parent needs to know
This wonderful book is a MUST READ for every parent and teacher in America today. Acknowledgment of our narcissistic culture in the USA, brought about in part by the "self-esteem movement", is the first step in correcting this troubling situation in America. This book holds up a mirror to American society today and waves a red flag warning for troubles in our future if this trend is not reversed. One quote from the book: "We are a nation of 280 million masters of the universe". What ever happened to living in reality?...more info
- I am very grateful for the book
I was born in 1959 and my son in 1984. The book helped me to see myself as a member of my generation. I was born and spend first 30 years of my life in Russia and would never expect to fit description of American baby boomers. Never-the-less a lot of things are pretty true for me.
The book helped me to understand why my son does what he does. Even though he is pretty intelligent, his expectations do not correspond to the reality. I am giving this book to him, hoping it will help him come to earth sooner. I think that having so many enlightening stories about similar young people will help him see himself in more real light.
I value this book as a parent/child/understanding toolkit. I don't have an opinion on how much input it added to psych research, neither do I care about this view. Having a lot of negative reviews (from my perspective) often illustrates that the truth hurts. A natural way to deal with pain is denial....more info
- Utterly Depressing and Inaccurate
The way the author looks at the younger generation is utterly depressing and inaccurate. She gives no hope or guidance as to what they should be doing to succeed in life. All she does is tell all of us how NOT to do it. Big waste of time....more info
- Minus 0 stars!!!
How dare you write a book about peoples personal experiences that they share for support & you not even ONCE asked permission to use these stories! No way would I buy your book or promote it.
MINUS 0 stars......more info
- YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!!
Reason being; any person with a minute sense of intelligence will enjoy this book. It is a great read and never gets dull. The information is supported very well. It is obvious that Dr. Twenge took her time with her research and studies. As a younger make of twenty years old, I found that she is dead on in her analysis of what she labels generation me. There are few books I consider must reads. This one just made it onto the list. If you're interested, the others are; amusing ourselves to death by Neil Postman, and 1984.
If you're young, this may help you make sense of some of the life around you and even sort out the mess and depression that we are so susceptible to.
If you are older, then it will certainly give you some reasoning to the madness that is taking place in our young generation.
I honestly believe this book should be read by everyone. Those who are part of my (I'm 20) generation, and even those who are not, so they can understand what they are dealing with.
- The Irony of a Self-Absorbed Author
That this book should address a generation who supposedly suffers from entitlement issues is a joke within a mockery wrapped in a layer of irony. The author cites personal information from sources who were not asked, or even told, that their sensitive and heart-breaking stories would be included in a for-profit publication. Many of these people are extremely upset at being used in this fashion. For a supposed professional, Twenge's methods should be seriously called into question by the associations with which she aligns herself....more info
- Great Points Made!!
This book was researched very well and had some vaild points made. Very easy read. ...more info
- Accessible and Knowledgeable
Jean Twenge has brought twenty-somethings under the same lens as previous generations. By using the same surveys and tests of previous generations when they were the same age as today's Generation Me she gets a good picture of the differences between them.
This book has helped me understand my own children and the young people I deal with in the church I serve. Dr. Tweng presents the research in an understandable way and moves easily to a discussion of what this means for society.
Recommended for anyone trying to understand today's young adults.
- Essential reading for teachers, parents, and grandparents.
This well researched study of an important segment of our culture explains why young people so often are self absorbed, rude, and entitled. The author sets out workable strategies for dealing with them and further suggests that they are not neccessarily at fault for appearing to be just spoiled brats. ...more info
- Any person involved in ministry must read this book!!!
I am a pastor to young adults (ages 18-35) at a large church in California and I was introduced to this book a few months ago. It really hit home with the trends I was noticing in most of the young adults I was working with (myself included) at our church, and other pastors agreed. I especially appreciated the commentary on the Christian obsession with the self.
I enjoyed the book so much we decided to do an 8-week sermon series in which we're discussing the trends of the Gen Me culture and then reflecting on what Scripture has to say, mostly in contrast to the self focused message of the last 35 years (Jesus - "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)).
Twenge's book is brilliantly, blunt research which I've found to be extremely useful to churches, who are as much in the sociological field as they are the theological one in an ever-changing culture.
- Powerful message - everyone should read this book
This intriguing book sends a powerful and controversial message: if we don't want our kids to grow up being conceited, selfish, self-centered, egomaniacs who can't deal with rejection or hardships in their life, then we need to stop telling them that they are special and that they are the center of the universe. This is, of course, in direct contradiction to everything you hear nowadays everywhere from schools to the media. Messages like: "You can do anything/be anything if you put your mind to it/if you just try," "You are special," "Having high self-esteem is important," "Love yourself first," etc. The book challenges these kinds of statements and shows how they are detrimental to our youth.
I found this book to be highly readable and a real page-turner, full of interesting (if not shocking) facts and statistics and lots of references to pop culture and current events that most young people can relate to. It is a book both for Generation Me-ers and their parents.
We are indeed in a dire state of things when most kids believe that they are special above everyone else, that self-esteem is the most important quality, that loving yourself is more important than loving others, and that to heck with everyone else at the expense of yourself.
This book argues convincingly that our constant barrage at telling kids that they are special and #1 in everything (even when they're not) is actually detrimental to them. These kids with such supposedly high self esteem and independent minds are bound to end up alone and lonely because nobody will be able to stand them.
Although the book does an excellent job at outlining the problem in painstaking detail, I wish it would do more to suggest solutions to these problems. I found myself asking, "OK, I am outraged - now what do we do about this as parents?" The author suggests stopping these self-esteem movements at the school level, but what can you do in the home? Is it really realistic to tell parents not to tell their kids they are special, not to proudly hang up their "works of art" on the fridge, not to have personalized items in their rooms celebrating their names, their achievements, and their personalities? What is the alternative? The only possible solution that I could glean from this book is to tell your kids that sure, they are special - but so are others.
Overall, the book offers a positive message and I love how it contradicts and goes against modern wisdom to offer a new perspective. I wish it offered more answers to its own questions, but this is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in the state of our youth today - from parents, to educators, to the kids themselves. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book....more info
- If I could give zero as well
I wonder if the author will ask permission to use peoples' personal (and very intimate) stories for her next book instead of stealing them....more info
- A Must Read for Managers
When coaching managers on how to assimilate the newest generation into the workplace, I add this book to their reading list. Gen Y has upset the balance in organizations, and management must understand where these new professionals are coming from. One thing is certain, they are not going to change! Dr. Twenge does a great job of describing what this generation looks like, what they want and what they need. Unlike other authors, she has the courage to point out not just the good and the bad, but also the ugly.
- Fine book but doesn't account for some major factors
In and of itself this is a excellent source of clarity when one is trying to make sense of the Y generation. They aren't the easiest age cohort to understand or make sense of, in terms of thought processes, motivational factors, developmental forces, values, tastes, needs, or social drives. This often leaves the baby boom generation somewhat baffled by their seeming opacity. After a second reading of Generation Me, with extensive underlining and reflective contemplation, I think I'm beginning to get what makes them tick, and that's a valuable thing.
However, we are perhaps only now gaining an appreciation, and with that a sobering trepidation, of how powerfully medicated a generation the Y people are. This additional factor is all to easy to downplay or overlook, yet a high percentage of younger adults and adolescents are being medicated with strong mood altering medicines. Often these medicines are given for behaviors that would appear to be well within the envelope of adolescent normality 30 years ago, but today are framed as disruptive or antisocial. In my opinion, this is an exceedingly unhealthy trend as we develop institutional habits of "grinding off" any rough edges with pharmaceuticals, leaving nothing but a monotone consensus culture in their wake. Is this the collective form of life we truly desire ? Or have we been merely seduced by the low cost of medicating the young instead of alowing them to work through the discovery process of a rich, varied life experience ?
The second factor which is shaping the young of today is the legacy of the human potential movement, cults, and large group seminars which sought near instantaneous, collective Satori experiences and discounted the long, slow, saturnine process of becoming a fully formed human. We bought into this model of empowerment without reflection, much as we bought into the model that most problems with the mind were problems of chemistry.
In my opinion, it is the dual legacy which is very much derived from Baby Boom lifestyle and attitude, mind medicine and pop psychology, which has had a deep and woeful impact on the life arc of young people today.
I wish the author had devoted a thorough analysis of the origins and impacts of medicalization and psychologizing of the young....more info
- give it to your pregnant friends and relatives
In general, I thought this book was quite good. It is not dry or academic at all, as I was expecting it to be. The research is explained briefly and then illustrated with anecdotes. Most of the conclusions are, I feel, intuitive and correct, and I felt like she was describing the experiences of my family and friends.
If there is a great weakness to the book, it is the book's failure to emphasize that the problems it addresses basically stem from poor philosophy, which is the underlying why to the how of poor child-rearing that she describes. I laughed out loud at her sequelae on hot-button political issues like multiculturalism, on which she lapses into the ideological language that she has effectively just been deriding. In sum, she says we need to move forward into the brave new world of the 1950s tweaked in just the way she wants it tweaked--a pretty amorphous and naive plan viewed from a soc-anth or poli-sci perspective.
Part of the reason that this failure creates a weakness in the book is that it ties her down to prescriptions that continue to deal with symptoms rather than underlying causes. Her advice to GenMe on avoiding depression essentially amounts to taking over-the-counter supplements instead of prescription meds (that was another place I laughed).
My completely unprofessional diagnosis is that the failure is connected to her own inability to overcome the GenMe mould. And why should she try when the basic difference between her and her confreres is that she has achieved what GenMe wants (prestigious job, satisfying unmarried lover, national fame, etc.)? The autobiographical portions of her book are mostly self-involved, and there is no sense of any feelings on her part of intergenerational, intrafamilial, or interpersonal duty--the emotional expressions of the correctives people need. Oh well, the rich are not the only ones who are not like you and me: there are the professors at elite universities as well.
Still, despite this criticism, I would like as many people as possible to read this book. When it arrived, I sat down to skim it and ended up stuck in my chair until I had finished it late that night....more info
- The book was right one
I have been discovering that there was something very wrong with the generation that is now growing up and this book hit the nail right on the head. Although instead of sugar coating it like the author did I would have used words like selfish, arrogant, perverted, twisted, and sick, and convinced of its own superiority. In fact, the only people who did not seem to like the book are the ones that the book was refering to. All I can say is to anyone who wants to know what is wrong with this generation, read the book. For all those who gave the book a bad review, I guess the truth hurts....more info
- projecting an insecurity?
This book's greatest value seems to reside mostly in the compilation of data, allowing academia to progress ahead on more than cultural assumptions. For someone who does not wait for statistics to dictate my own intuitive observations, I did not encounter one idea or assessment that was original or expanded my understanding of this "generation" or the previous one in any fundamental way. Every page I read I simply said, "Well, of course."
While statistics are important for certain realms of work, the assessor of such data is still human and prone to human biases. When the author determines that students should not be told they can be anything they want to be, perhaps she is simply reflecting a subconscious aspect of her own worldview. In my experience, many people who remain in academia from college into their professional careers without ever leaving it since they were 4 years old do so out of a psychological fear of leaving their nest and risking failure. It is logical, therefore, that such an individual would extrapolate that fear to the broader realms of society in order to satiate such insecurities. Just a theory.
There is no doubt the self-esteem movement has gone to far. That is because it has never transcended a materialist worldview. I believe the foundation of that movement lies in a fundamental scientific and spiritual truth: that all life is "God". All beings are manifestations of the God force (whether that is simply the scientific energy integrating all life or a literal god does not matter). To tell a child he or she is anything less than perfection is to deny that child his or her reality. From this perspective, one must envision the highest possible reality for themselves. Then opening oneself to receive the intuitive or whatever other guidance is provided to reach that end rises above the petty squabbles of competition and allows that child to realize his or her highest potential. Does that mean all of us can be violin prodigies? Not at all. Does it mean we can just sit back and expect the world to shower us with success? No. It takes focus and knowing when to commit to hard work. It means finding your own highest potential for yourself, not simply believing you can do anything at all.
While the self-esteem movement may be flawed and overly generous, this backlash is even more dangerous and destructive. ...more info