nomenclature derived solely from the historical fact my birth was chronologically linked to the ending of WWII. We were followed by Generation “X” in the period mid-sixties to about 1980 noted for their independence most marked by a rebellious rejection of parental control. Advertising mavens quickly recognized their buying power and so began the targeting of youth in the sales world. They in turn were superceded by Generation “Y” quickly labelled the internet generation for both their comfort and dependence on all manner of technology. They are also referred to as the Millenials for their linkage to Y2K. In a pure Darwinian world, evolution would dictate the next nomenclature would be a “Z” but borrowing from Greek mythology, I’m arbitrarily assigning them the title of Generation “N”. N for narcissist.
The word is derived from the story of NARCISSUS a young man enamored of his own reflection. We’ve always had narcissists; in fact, its likely a common attribute of most of the political leadership in todays sound bite driven electioneering but for the first time, the technology is available for every human on the planet to admire their own reflection and do it continuously. Cell phones that serve as cameras. Tablets that record your every action. Blogs recording banal functions from grooming to washroom entries (and exits). Twitters and tweets and of course the ubiquitous texting of every inanity in the personal day diary. Where is it all headed? Educators are raising the alarm verbal communication skills are waning, Paragraph structure has been replaced with fractured sentencing, classroom attention spans are diminished. Sociologists note the trending to instant gratification combined with an unhealthy attitude the rules apply to others but not the self. We observe this daily in every facet of our lives from cyberbullying to vehicle driving practices.
Self esteem is a healthy personal attribute but the trending to broadcasting every facet of one’s personal life is becoming a clinical concern to the point the updated American Psychiatric Association”s DIagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) now lists Narcissism, in the extreme, as a legitimate mental health issue affecting about 1 percent of the general population. This trending has far reaching implications in the community and the workplace and most certainly in the planning of our social fibre and how its funded. As we descend in to a virtual world with more of our time spent at social media communication, we lose empathy for the less fortunate. Community volunteering is decreasing. In future, there will be a work ethic but the workaholic phenomenon traditionally required by professions such as medicine won’t be there. For governments, this changing work ethic has monumental impact. There’s always been a tendency in planning to overspend; assuming the cash flow through taxation and borrowing from public retirement plans would support the infrastructure indefinitely but now that we have reached the end game where boomers are the largest proportion of the society requiring the most funding for health and retirement commitments and simultaneously their children are migrating home for financial reasons we can see a clearly troubled system.
Notwithstanding the internet boondoggle of the startup of Obamacare, planners have no Plan B to cover the youngest generation refusing to sign up and overwhelmingly collectively deciding to pay the fine for non-enrollment. This opting out attitude and going it alone ignoring the universality dictum that funds all of our social and public programs is an expanding trend. And that’s my reason for skipping “Z” and renaming them Generation N.
By: Dr. David Carll