NEW YORK, U.S. — “Lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents” were the words used by TIMES author Joel Stein to describe the Millennial generation.
Technically speaking, Millennials are individuals born between 1980 and 2000.
Through the rise of technology, researchers say a rise in narcissism has occurred in the Millennial generation. “The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20’s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older” according to the National Institutes of Health.
What exactly is narcissism? TIME magazine describes the disorder as a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, interpersonal exploitiveness, and lack of empathy.”
Author Scott Hess, however, challenges this stereotype arguing that older generations are quick to criticize Millennials because they are afraid of their potential. Millennials, unlike any previous generation, hold power through their use and understanding of modern technology. There is no longer a large gap between idea and product. Millennials can upload videos directly to YouTube, create a business network via social media, and easily compare business strategies with other companies.
If focused on the right issues and given responsibility, Millennials have potential to create change in a way that previous generations could not simply because of technology.
Young people have a passion and enthusiasm that cannot be matched. They are, potentially, our greatest weapon in fighting poverty but must be believed in to do so. “Some may recognize that youth are always at the center of social change. Others may still think this is a radical idea… History tells us that people who change the world are often young — they just need the chance.” Said Youth Service America (YSA) President Steve Culbertson.
The 70’s, for example, held some of the greatest peace protests in history, led primarily by young people willing to do anything to make a statement and take a stand. Martin Luther King Jr. began his movement when he was merely 26, and Joan of Arc led France to regain their freedom from the English at 17; burned at the stake at 19 years old.
Today, the YSA has nominated 25 teens and young adults who are changing the world and making a difference.
Among the 25 is Dylan Mahalingham who at the age of 16 raised $780,000 for tsunami relief and went on to start his own organization, Lil MDG’s (millennium development goals), which has freed thousands of children from bonded slavery.
In 2007, 18-year-old Christopher Yao founded Kids Change the World, dedicated to “creating and supporting the mechanisms through which young people can discover, leverage, and develop and channel their creative energies and special talents to channel them to create societal change.” Kids Change the World does everything from cleft life surgery, to education preparation, and environmental activism.
After discovering that malaria kills a child every 30 seconds, 17-year-old Madelyn McGlynn and her sisters founded NETwork Against Malaria. McGlynn’s organization has saved thousands of people from rural Uganda by raising money for mosquito net education and distribution.
The recent spike in behaviors such as narcissism and entitlement are a result of technology and societal trends, not a characteristic of Millennials everywhere. Young people have a fresh and fiery passion for change but need to be believed in to create that change. If Millennials are disregarded as self-involved, society is missing out on the amazing potential they have and the contributions they are bound to make in the world. Rather than call out their flaws, they need to be called on for change.