Generation Me: Now with 40 percent less empathy.
According to a new study, today’s college students are less likely than their counterparts of 20 and 30 years ago to agree with statements such as: “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective” and “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”
“Many people see the current group of college students — sometimes called ‘Generation Me‘ – as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history” — Researcher Sara Konrath to LiveScience.com.
Being overly confident, self-centered, full of entitlement, annoying in general — it’s called being young. Young people have been making those mistakes since the beginning of time. If today’s students lag behind their counterparts, perhaps it’s because youth itself has been prolonged — the average 25 year old from 1979, for example, probably had far more adult responsibilities than the 25 year old of today. And it’s not all their (or their parents’) fault: the job market and the slashing of employee benefits like healthcare play a large role.
As for empathy, some are highly empathic from birth; but most need some hard knocks from life before their puny, feeble Grinch-sized hearts can grow.
“Empathy is the opposite of utopia. There is no empathy in heaven because there is no mortality. There is no empathy in utopia because there is no suffering. Empathy is grounded in the acknowledgment of death, and the celebration of life, and rooting for each other to flourish and be. It’s based on our frailties and imperfections.”
So in other words… give Generation Me some time.
And you have to admire this about Generation Me: they are the most eco-aware and closer to being post-racial, post-homophobic, post-everything than any other generation in history. Sure, they’re a little annoying in other respects. Still, I think a little empathy is in order.
But then, my empathy score is higher than 90 percent of the study’s participants. How do you stack up against Generation Me? Take the 15 question quiz here and find out.