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When they're 14 it's no longer cute." All that self-esteem leads them to be disappointed when the world refuses to affirm how great they know they are."This generation has the highest likelihood of having unmet expectations with respect to their careers and the lowest levels of satisfaction with their careers at the stage that they're at," says Sean Lyons, co-editor of Managing the New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation.
You've seen them at bars, sitting next to one another and texting.They're so convinced of their own greatness that the National Study of Youth and Religion found the guiding morality of 60% of millennials in any situation is that they'll just be able to feel what's right.Their development is stunted: more people ages 18 to 29 live with their parents than with a spouse, according to the 2012 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults. In 1992, the nonprofit Families and Work Institute reported that 80% of people under 23 wanted to one day have a job with greater responsibility; 10 years later, only 60% did.(Poll: Who's the Most Influential Millennial?It's just that we've learned later that self-esteem is a result, not a cause." The problem is that when people try to boost self-esteem, they accidentally boost narcissism instead. It's a better message," says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, who wrote Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic."When they're little it seems cute to tell them they're special or a princess or a rock star or whatever their T-shirt says.Not only do millennials lack the kind of empathy that allows them to feel concerned for others, but they also have trouble even intellectually understanding others' points of view.
What they do understand is how to turn themselves into brands, with "friend" and "follower" tallies that serve as sales figures.
They are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they're trying to take over the Establishment but because they're growing up without one. They got this way partly because, in the 1970s, people wanted to improve kids' chances of success by instilling self-esteem.
The Industrial Revolution made individuals far more powerful--they could move to a city, start a business, read and form organizations. It turns out that self-esteem is great for getting a job or hooking up at a bar but not so great for keeping a job or a relationship.
"They're doing a behavior to reduce their anxiety," says Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University at Dominguez Hills and the author of i Disorder.
That constant search for a hit of dopamine ("Someone liked my status update! From 1966, when the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking were first administered, through the mid-1980s, creativity scores in children increased. Scores on tests of empathy similarly fell sharply, starting in 2000, likely because of both a lack of face-to-face time and higher degrees of narcissism.
They might look calm, but they're deeply anxious about missing out on something better.