You are not special.
In fact, you're a lowly, half-witted imbecile who probably thinks, behaves and looks just like everybody else — and possibly even worse.
Feel better now?
Well I certainly do. Because according to a research study that was presented in San Diego Tuesday, I'm giving you exactly what you need. And in the process, I'm also saving the future of American society and rescuing you from your imminent self-destruction. So just remember to thank me later.
According to a "comprehensive" research study performed by five university psychologists, American college students are now more narcissistic and vain than they have ever been before. The study, which was presented at a conference on the generation gap, tested more than 16,000 collegiate students in 2006 for their levels of vanity — completing the 25-year process of compiling something they call the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.
The NPI is based on results from 1982-2006 of college students' reactions to statements such 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 any way I want to." And after 25 years of this kind of purely anecdotal and grossly misinterpreted research, the results are in: You're an egotistical punk.
The researchers argue that this rise in egoism among college students is leaving us "more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors." Not only that, but it attributes much of our increasing narcissism to the way we are raised: without authoritative parenting or sufficient consequences unleashed on us at an early age.
Study co-author W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia said in a CNN report, "Permissiveness seems to be a component [for increased egoism], and a potential antidote would be more authoritative parenting." It seems to me that Mr. Campbell on the contrary is the one whose child rearing has failed him — he seems to have never been taught the basic concepts of logic.
You see, this research study has quite laughably made the claim that you and I are more self-obsessed as college students than those who came before us because of answers to loaded questions such as "Would the world be a better place if you ruled it?" Subsequently, they have labeled this as a stark example of the rise in narcissism among young people. Yet, what they have confused in their research and conceptually failed to grasp is that the very essence of Western society since, oh I don't know, the Enlightenment, has been a sentiment of individualism, not egoism.
Yet individualism, which signifies the increased sentiment of self-reliance and personal liberty, has been confused with an obsession with one's self and one's appearance. And this rag-tag team of psychologists has not only made a glaring academic mistake by publishing such findings, but they have also marginalized some very real concerns in the process.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, suicide is currently the third-leading killer of young people ages 15 to 24 in the United States. Also, according to CNN, every year there are almost twice as many suicides in the United States as there are homicides. More than ever, we are a depressed generation that is over-worked, over-stressed and struggling to navigate a world much more complicated than it was only 25 years ago.
So, actually, I think I'm quite glad that these findings were presented at a conference on the generation gap, because I am sure this served as the perfect intellectual scapegoat for what it means to be out of touch with our generation.
This study is absurd, and it has the potential to diminish the needs of a large portion of American college students that are in need. But I guess deep down, we're too good to be paying attention to it anyway.
Andy Granias ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science and international studies.