Millennial 'Narcissism': A Reactionary Survival Mechanism In An Age Of Anxiety

Millennial 'Narcissism': A Reactionary Survival Mechanism In An Age Of Anxiety

I believe that our "narcissism" is a symptom of our generation's need to react and rebel in the most quickly moving and anxious age in history

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan

On May 20, 2013, Joel Stein of Time magazine published an article titled "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation," an attack on the narcissistic tendencies of the millennial generation, a calling out of my generation as "lazy, entitled, selfish, and shallow." Stein's analysis of millennials, the generation born from 1980 to 2000, goes beyond a cookie-cutter use of statistics to support his point, but analyzes why we have become the most narcissistic generation ever: "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."

Stein couldn't label millennials simply the "Me" generation, because that title is taken by our predecessors, the baby boomers. He points to the invention of the concept of self-esteem in the 1970s, and the problem with that is "when people try to boost self-esteem, they accidentally boost narcissism instead." He later quotes researcher Sean Lyons in saying that we are in "a crisis of unmet expectations."

The only thing worse than our narcissism is what arises from it: entitlement. We have less civic engagement and lower political participation than any group, according to Stein. Our narcissism has become our generation's mortal sin.

In a response to the Stein article, Emmett Rensin labeled the millennial generation, instead, the "We Generation" in an August 13, 2013 column in USA Today. Stein labels us the "Me Me Me Generation" when millennial levels of giving to charity and political engagement are on pace to surpass all previous generations, despite an era of crippling youth unemployment and student debt.

Of course, the narcissism that our generation shows is most often on full display on social media, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. But is social media truly a "vanity project" when we spend far more time browsing our Facebook feeds rather than fine-tuning our profiles and posts? Is social media an assertion of independence when we spend far more time reading Tweets of our friends, celebrities, and politicians than tweeting on our own?

According to Rensin, "for a millennial, heaven is other people. Hell is becoming an island, cut off from others by an iPhone left at home." We are not the "Me Me Me" generation, but a "We" generation, one that desires a "pure, interdependent society," an innate incompatibility with isolation.

But Rensin, in this piece, does not defend against the criticisms of the older generations as much as he seeks to understand where the sentiment comes from. "Beneath the mutual something noble: the genuine desire to understand. This is a new crop of Americans, after all. What do their hearts look like?" It's no secret that scrolling our Facebook or Instagram feeds is a lesson in anxiety, a terror that is the "anxiety of seeing everything."

The circumstances of our generation aren't too different from our predecessors. What sets us apart, however, is "how uniquely aware" we are of what everyone else is doing, and particularly how much everyone else is succeeding. "The irony of the 'We generation' is that by giving everybody a voice, everybody has seen just how many voices there are." The fact that we see everything means that "it's impossible to digest them all." Instead, "we just feel the visceral weight of output. We say this is something to be cherished, but we know it is the thing that crushes, too."

The "Me" generation is actually something we strive for. It is no secret that social media is an unhealthy mechanism for comparison - look to a Facebook friend's latest hardship and think "oh, my life isn't that bad" or see your friend's latest accomplishment or job offer and realize your presence is relatively insignificant. "We know it might be nice to have a 'Me Generation," if only we could."

The world is made smaller by our advances in social media and our digital era - and sometimes being so fundamentally aware of what almost everyone is up to makes it claustrophobically overwhelming. Sometimes, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are, for better or worse, arenas of one-upmanship to see whose personal brand is superior to the next, is more popular than the next. The fundamental paradox of the millennial generation is this: how can we stand out when seemingly everyone stands out?

Although a mirage, wouldn't we be better off as a generation of narcissists, one that is self-assured of our independence and self-worth that we wouldn't have this need for comparison? "It might be nice to have a selfish space or blindness to the odds. We might like to be narcissists, if it weren't so hard in a world made small by those damn iPhones." Wouldn't it be nice to have life finally slow down.

Stein misunderstands the millennial generation, but started the conversation on what is in the hearts of millennial generation. The most egregious examples of our "narcissism," from Facebook profile pictures that change every other day to Instagram photos that conveniently staged - what is behind them?

I believe that our "narcissism" is a symptom of pir generation's need to react and rebel in the most quickly moving and anxious age in history. Life moves too fast - only yesterday we were two years younger, and tomorrow we will be five years older. And yet there is so much to do, catch up on, and become. I have 18 tabs open in the writing of this article of things I could check out and read. How many tabs of possibilities do you have open in your life, and what does it say about us that we aren't satisfied with just one?

The "we" generation exists in a condition of fundamental anxiety - because, for better or worse, we largely grow up with unmet expectations of institutions, from our government, economy, press, and even families and local communities that were supposed to be there for us but fell short, time and time again. And I'm not talking about mental health anxiety (which, conveniently, millennials do also have a problem with), but an anxiety knowing and experience, time and time again, things change faster than we'll ever be comfortable with, faster than we'll ever expect, faster than we'll ever be ready for.

And if we strive for narcissism and vanity because they are spaces that won't let us down, defense mechanisms we've donned to condition ourselves to survive, why wouldn't we try to turn to them in times we don't have much else?

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100 Instagram Captions You'll Want To Use Right Now

Quotes, lyrics, sayings, and other ideas for Instagram captions!

When it comes to Instagram we are often thinking about what to use as a caption for our photos that we take that we really want to post on Instagram. Sometimes we post the photo without a caption and sometimes we just use an emoji because we're stumped on finding a good caption to use for the photo. So we go the short route and just put an emoji as a caption for our photo. Well whether it is a selfie, a friend pic, group pic, or just need a caption for the photo, here are 100 captions to use for a photo. Some are lyrics, some are quotes, and some are just a quick caption to use on your photo. Also here are some accounts that are worth following:
















Here are Quotes To Use As A Caption/ Lyrics To Use As A Caption/ Quick Little Sayings To Use As A Caption: for your Instagram photo that you wish to post!

1. Life goes on, with or without you.

2. Don't Worry Be Happy! Bob Marley

3. Be Happy.

4. Be Confident.

5. Be Positive.

6. Don't be a liar, everyone hates a liar.

7. Chillin' with my peeps.

8. Go big or go home.

9. What's the deal?

10. The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it's all that matters.

11. Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

12. Life is a gift.

13. You couldn't handle me even if I came with instructions.

14. Forgive, yes. Forget, never.

15.There's a hole in my heart where you used to be.

16. I don't need any part-time people in my life.

17. Get the gist.

18. Boy, it's the 21st Century, get with the program.

19. Hey, I just met you, this is crazy!

20. I woke up like this.

21. Keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about.

22. Beauty is power, a smile is its sword.

23. Last day of class!

24. I donut care!

25. Got my donut and coffee today.

26. Happy as a clam

27. Beach days are the best!

28. A friend will always make you smile, especially when you don't want to…

29. Always classy, never trashy, and a little bit sassy.

30. If only we could turn back time...

31. With you, I forget all my problems. With you, time stands still.

32. Life's a climb, but the view is great.

33. "Ohana, means family, family means no one gets left behind or forgotten." — "Lilo & Stitch"

34. We come to love by not finding the perfect person, but by learning to see the imperfect person perfectly.

35. If I ever write a story about my life, don't be surprised if your name appears a billion times.

36. She's got that red lip, classic thing going on.

37. I don't know what's tighter, our jeans or our friendship!

38. Best friends make good times better and hard times easier!

39. Not sure what I did to deserve you as my best friend :)

40. I don't need your approval to be me.

41. So call me? Maybe?

42. "I am who.I am, I am what I am, I do what I do and I ain't never gonna do it any different. I don't care who likes it and who don't." — Buck Owens

43. Take me as I am, or watch me as I go.

44. "Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars." — Ed Sheeran

45. Cause you're a sky full of stars — Coldplay

46 . I keep dancing on my own — Calum Scott

47. Can't keep my hands to myself — Selena Gomez

48. I just want to look good for you — Selena Gomez

49. Kill em with kindness — Selena Gomez

50. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. But when I say sorry… I mean it!

51. Me? Weird? Please! I am limited edition!

52. Turn that frown upside down.

53. Smile, it's the best thing a girl can wear!

54, Stay true.

55. Laughing is the best medicine you can ever get!

56. "You're the king, baby I'm your queen." — Taylor Swift

57. Best Friends Forever!

58.Throwing it back to the good ole days!

59. Ugg Life.

60. I know you like, first-name-basis.

61. *Sends selfie to NASA cuz I'm a star*

62. Basic white girl.

63. Frisky Friday!

64. My thoughts are stars that I cannot fathom into constellations. — "The Fault In Our Stars"

65. "Maybe our okays will be our infinities." — The Fault In Our Stars

66. So hold onto me because I'm a little unsteady — Unsteady

67. This has got to be the best day of my life.

68. She's the beauty and he's the beast.

69. "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." — Walt Disney

70. "If you can dream it, you can do it." — Walt Disney

71. "Hakuna Matata, it means no worries for the rest of your days." — "The Lion King"

72. "The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it." — "The Lion King."

73. "Remember you're the one who can fill the world with sunshine." — "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"

74 ."The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." — "Mulan"

75. "You don't have time to be timid. You must be bold and daring." — "Beauty and the Beast"

76. "All it takes is faith and trust." — "Peter Pan"

77. "A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference." — "Winnie the Pooh"

78. "If you focus on what you left behind, you will never be able to see what lies ahead." — "Ratatouille"

79. "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." — George Bernard Shaw

80. "A true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart." — "Hercules"

81. "Life's not a spectator sport. If watchin' is all you're gonna do, then you're gonna watch your life go by without ya." — "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

82. "The things that make me different are the things that make me ME." — "Winnie the Pooh"

83. "Giving up is for rookies." — "Hercules"

84. "Happiness is the richest thing we will ever own." — Donald Duck

85. "Change is good." — "The Lion King"

86. "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." — Abraham Lincoln

87. "An unexamined life is not worth living." — Socrates

88. "Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky." — Rabindranath Tagore

89. "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart." — Helen Keller

90. "The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire." — Pamela Hansford Johnson

91. "Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success." — Swami Sivananda

92. "Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain... To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices. Today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity, but embrace it." — Kevyn Aucoin

93. "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'," — Audrey Hepburn

94. "Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you." — Walt Whitman

95. "My power's turned on, starting right now I'll be strong." — Rachel Platten

96. "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." — Buddha

97. "Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf." — Rabindranath Tagore

98. "I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'" — Muhammad Ali

99. "Why don't you be you, and I'll be me." — James Bay

100. Life is like a camera, we focus on the positives and develop from the negatives.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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11 Things You NEVER Say To A College Girl Trying To Get Into Shape

Just never talk about a person's weight.


When my family and friends joked that I was going to gain 15 pounds in my freshman year of college as a result of the "Freshman 15," I thought it was what it was supposed to be: a joke. However, as the year has come to an end, I realized that I actually did put on a couple of pounds, albeit it wasn't the predicted 15.

As I told those that I wanted to get into an ideal shape for my body, I was met with some insensitive and ignorant remarks. Everyone thought that I mean just losing the weight I had put on.

1. "You walk to all of your classes, why aren't you losing weight that way?"

My legs are more toned than they ever have been before. However, most of the weight I have been gaining has gone directly to my gut (annoying!) and walking does not remedy that. Unfortunately, I have to stick to ab workouts.

2. "But you look fine to me!"

I don't feel healthy to myself. I'm not trying to stay in shape for anyone else, just myself, thanks. I appreciate you trying to make me feel better about my body image but I know something has to be done.

3. "I didn't gain any weight in college."

Good for you. I did. I'm trying to do something about it.

4. "Just stop drinking."

I don't drink. Really, the only liquid I consume is water or iced tea. I don't like soda and alcohol makes me nauseous way too easily.

5. "Isn't the gym free on campus for students?"

Yes, but some people don't like working out in front of others. I am one of those people. My friend lives in an apartment complex that has their own gym and almost no one is ever there but not everyone has that luxury. Also, some are busy and do not have time for a quick jog or to stretch.

6. "You should try this diet/pills/exercise routine."

I am thankful that you are trying to help but my diet is just eating healthy and having a few cheat days in between. I know what exercises work best for me and I am just not taking pills. Bodies adjust differently.

7. "Don't starve/force yourself to throw up."

Trust me, I know. I'm trying to lose the weight healthily. If you do find yourself practicing unhealthy eating habits or realizing your body image is deteriorating, the NEDA Hotline is (800) 931-2237. Please reach out if you are going through hardships.

8. "Won't you have to buy a whole new wardrobe?"

If I drop (or even add) a size or two. We grow out and grow tired of clothes on the regular, what's the difference if you have to buy some because of a weight change? Plus, who doesn't love buying new clothes?

9. "Just eat healthier."

Didn't think of it! Options are limited at college where the dining halls don't offer all that much that is actually good for your body. Now that I'm at home, it's easier. But I'm already trying to eat healthy.

10. "You've evened out since the last time I saw you!"

This is code for you've put on some weight. I hear it mostly from older relatives because my friends will flat out tell me if I've gotten a little chunky.

11. "You're just stressed."

Personally, this one gets me livid. I do admit that when I am stressed or anxious, I do turn to food for comfort but when I am delighted and genuinely happy, will my body magically revert into a fit state?

Sadly, no.

Honestly, I am just trying to get my body back into shape. For me, that means cutting back on greasy foods and kicking a bad habit of sitting on my butt all day. For others, it could mean more or less. As long as your body is in good physical condition and you are content, the number on the scale and others' thoughts shouldn't matter. Take care of yourself.

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