Friday, May 25, 2007

The narcissist generation

Complaints about the younger generation have always been commonplace among the older generation. Yet Jean M. Twenge argues that the current generation is unique in Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Free Press, 2007). She presents evidence that "Generation Me," those born after 1982, is rooted in profound pathology of narcissism. In some ways, her thesis is reminiscent of Christopher Lasch's magisterial Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (1979; W. W. Norton & Company; Revised edition, May 1991). Only, her focus is narrower and her approach more popular. Spoiled beyond reckoning, members of "Generation Me" have heard since infancy that "I'm okay, and you're okay," that they were "special," and that "God don't create junk." The latest navel-gazing technological innovations of MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube, iPods, -- not to mention the inanity of most uses of cell phones and text messaging among them, only reinforces the pervasive sense of entitlement -- and equally profound misery, alienation, and ennui.

. . . and ugly clothing

Oh, and by the way, the picture on the book cover reminds me of what Alice von Hildebrand once said in a speech in Charlotte about modern clothing styles having become unworthy of the dignity of human beings. These low-riding, 3-4 inch-above-the-crotch, G-string baring jeans are the female equivalent of the low-slung ghetto-'n'-grunge look sported by derriere-cleavage-baring knuckle draggers who can't seem to keep their pants above their hips. Watch a woman wearing a pair of tight low-riders try to sit down in public. It's a seesaw trick between revealing too much butt cleavage in the back and too much thong (or, worse,) pubic fuzz in the front. People who think there's anything aesthetically pleasing about such clothing are fashion-myopic morons. For a woman, such clothing is the moral equivalent of wearing a sandwich board sign saying "I'm a cheap and easy, have no aesthetic taste or self-respect." For a man, it's the equivalent of a sign that says "I'm an unrefined boor with no future." In either case, the clothing announces a loud lack of self-respect. As von Hildebrand says simply, "It's ungly. It's clothing unworthy of a being created in God's image." Here's to an authentically Catholic counter culture!

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