Authored by Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D and W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D, The Narcissism Epidemic provides a fun insight on how the Generation Ys in the Unites States are increasingly becoming narcissistic. Singapore being an English speaking country, we are heavily influenced by the American culture. There is no doubt we are also affected hence my interest in picking up the book. I find myself addicted to books like that, The Tipping Point, Freaknomoics… now this.
What is a narcissist? Everyone would surely have a different intepretation. Taking pictures of yourself, admiring yourself in the mirror is narcissistic behavour, but merely a subset. A narcissist, in this book, is one that is self-centred and ignores the consideration of others. It is an inflated view of oneself – narcissists fall in love with their own reflection, (not necessarily a good-looking person, ugly people can be narcissistic too) and cannot connect with others. They do not make good bosses or spouses.. but they always will have someone with them. Why? Ask someone to pick chocolate cake or broccoli – we’re tempted to take the chocolate cake every time; it’s a vicious cycle, as explained in chapter 13.
It is easy to figure out how parenting, Web 2.0, celebrity fame and media influence transmit and cause the rise in narcissism — what I personally found amusing was how easy credit had a part to play too. In their quest for material goods, people can easily get loans to fulfil their material dreams. No cookie for figuring out what led to the financial crisis in 2008.
A study asked students their confidence in their competency in Math. The Asians’ confidence were low compared to the Americans, but scored much higher in an actual test.
What marketers can learn from this is the confirmed characteristic of Gen Ys, of which very important I find is the freedom of self-expression. In recent years where social networking sites have madly sprouted and become prevalent in our everyday lives, these sites have significantly amplified the need to express ourselves (even if it is stupid). For the Gen Y, it could be “I don’t care whether anyone reads it or not, or what people think, I just want to tell my network this, and I feel better after I’ve shared it.” The act of revealing more flesh in profile pictures, the need to promote ourselves all leads to increased standards in narcissism. Even in games, the attractiveness of a character matters. The society’s focus on looks, leading to shallow relationships.
For in-depth analysis and examples, I highly recommend you to get a copy of the book.
More people are interested in spa than politics. Welcome to “Gen Me”. Do you think narcissism will only get more common in the future? Is it true that teeth whitening, and body hair removal is becoming a societal requirement and not an option?
Is it possible that we stop this, or should we even try to stop it? More people need to be aware and recognise this issue then act upon it; we could always use more humility in society. Find out more on http://www.narcissismepidemic.com/ too.
Read the excerpt. Perhaps you will find it interesting just like how I found it.