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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant synthesis of science and pop-culture
As a bona fide member of Generation Me and a graduate student in psychology, this book resonated very deeply.

First, let me confess that I was skeptical of Dr. Twenge's research before reading it. The idea of cultural and psychological decline seemed SO hackneyed and trite. I remembered reading it in Livy and other classical writers as well as seeing pundits...
Published on September 15, 2010 by Ben Winegard

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370 of 449 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A confused and confusing polemic
First, the high points. The author has a lot of interesting survey data that she uses compare the attitudes of "baby boomers" and "generation me".

She shows how today's youth are much more accepting of other races, cultures and sexual orientations; how people are open about their feelings; how women no longer face the kind of discrimination that they did 30...
Published on July 14, 2006 by G. Desjardins


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370 of 449 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A confused and confusing polemic, July 14, 2006
First, the high points. The author has a lot of interesting survey data that she uses compare the attitudes of "baby boomers" and "generation me".

She shows how today's youth are much more accepting of other races, cultures and sexual orientations; how people are open about their feelings; how women no longer face the kind of discrimination that they did 30 years ago; how young people want to do fulfilling things with their lives and are more self-reliant than ever.

And of course we see the downside: narcissism due to what can only be described as too much self-esteem; an unwillingness to take personal responsibility; too much of a focus on money and celebrity; and an epidemic of depression that no one has yet found a cause for.

The contrast between the generations is very interesting - dating someone outside your race is no longer an issue; the average woman in 2005 has a more aggressive personality (as measured by her survey) than the average man did in 1968. All cool stuff, and it would have been great if the author could have distilled the most significant of these differences into a single chapter.

Unfortunately, she didn't, and I found this to be a very frustrating read overall. She discusses the mismatch between the ambitions of young people and the careers they ultimately end up in. She is right to question kids who want to be "made" into famous hip-hop stars or models or actors, but she also sneers at all of the kids who want to be doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc.

She devotes pages - if not chapters - to the idea that "work should suck" and that young people should not expect to find their dream jobs, let alone fulfilling employment - but then when she discusses what young people can do to be more realistic, she lauds two 25-year-olds who quit their jobs and biked across the US to raise money for charity.

To make matters worse, she chides young people for being cynical about the government, and then chides them for not being cynical enough about their jobs. To top it all off, she thens admits that, as a professor, she "[doesn't] know much about nonacademic career paths".

One thing she does know - and she repeats it numerous times in the book - is that not just anyone out there can become a college professor like her. In many ways, this book feels like the author's attempt to get back at people who made fun of her and wronged her when she was growing up. Even though she's 33 years old and some of the subjects she talks to are 12, she often calls this "her generation" and makes generalizations about it based on her experience. She writes: "Publish the damn honor roll...[I]t's [a] small bit of high school glory enjoyed by the kids who will someday be our doctors and lawyers." Though of course she cautions against encouraging even the smartest and most capable students lest they become convinced that they don't need to work hard to accomplish their goals.

Ultimately, she ends up blaming the victims. Today's 15-to-25-year-olds don't run the world, their parents do. For all her talk about personal responsibility, she devotes exactly one sentence to telling parents that they bear some of the blame for how their kids have turned out.

The author had the opportunity to write something substantial about the changes that have happened over the last two generations. Instead, she decided to write a polemic against people who are not just like her. This will certainly appeal to anyone who likes to believe that "these damn kids are so disrespectful these days", but an insightful book, it's not.
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84 of 104 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but could have been better, December 4, 2006
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I'd describe this book as an interesting yet flawed work- it raises some interesting questions, but often fails to follow through with incisive analysis.

Any book that attempts to describe "a generation" is going to raise objections of over-generalization and, therefore, anyone who writes such a book really should start by explaining just why, exactly, this is a useful characterization. At a minimum, there are problems of periodization, inclusiveness, and timeliness.

Some generations have been shaped by world-historical events (e.g., WWII, Cold War, Great Depression) but, since that does not seem to be the case here, then why define a generation as beginning in 1973 instead of 1982, or 1989? And, although the author beats pretty hard on the diversity drum, her observations often seem entirely centered on her own white, liberal, upper-middle-class self. Perhaps that's inevitable, but, if her "generation" generalities do not include those who are non-white, non-liberal, or non-middle-class then she should explicitly say so.

The primary thesis of this book seems to be that a sort of extreme individualism is characteristic of her "Generation Me." One problem with this is that it may be too soon to say- after all, a similar survey of young adults in 1928 might have reached similar conclusions, yet a survey of the same people in 1948 might well have discovered a greater accommodation to collective action and personal sacrifice. Also, she seems to define "generations" largely on the basis of a shared common popular culture without any apparent awareness that conformity to an omnipresent, highly commercialized popular culture just might be antithetical to a more authentic individuality.

The book seemed particularly weak in discussing family and marriage. There seems to be a good deal of evidence that, on average, married people are healthier, wealthier, and happier than otherwise-similar singles- and that the reason for this is that the relative permanence and security of marriage promote a commingling of assets and labor specialization- a co-dependence, if you will- that is seldom found among non-married co-habiting couples. Yet, duty and obligation- even if mutual, and voluntarily assumed- surely restrict one's absolute freedom! And so, this book would have been far stronger had the author explored the trade-offs between the freedom to do whatever, whenever against the the freedom to voluntarily bind oneself to durable commitments of duty and obligation to others.

In all, I wouldn't characterize this as a bad book- just an unfinished one. It does raise important questions.
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164 of 212 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I thought it was going to be good....but...., August 9, 2006
I was very excited to read this book after perusing all of the positive reviews on Amazon and other sites. As I began the book, it did not disappoint. The author seemed to have a real insight into generational differences, and had fantastic research to back up many of her points.

While it was presented well, her foundational assertions are incorrect. To combine people born in the early 70s with those born in the 90s is fundamentally flawed on so many levels that it is hardly worth discussing. The research dividing post 1964 generations into gen x and generation next or gen y is far more compelling and in much more abundance than anything presented in this text. Her explanation of why her definitions are superior to these is woefully inadequate.

While the beginning of the book is made up of one insight after another backed up by some quality and unique research. The rest of the book is one point of hearsay after another backed up by quotes from Dawson's Creek and Teen magazines. Seriously! I was shocked that a supposed academic would use dialogue from a television show as insight into a generation, and then have the audacity to call it "research". She would actually use fictional television dialogue to lend support to her analysis. If she hoped to define a generation, a lot more is needed than pop culture references.

The final part of the book I will address is the recommendations section at the very end of the book. She recommends the government create national childcare, expand public school to 3 and 4 year olds, and change school hours. What does this have to do with her topic??? Nothing!!! Where did this come from? The only connection to her text is her complaints about the high cost of living. Let us look into those complaints a little while we are on the topic. She complains that the cost of living is so high in highly desirable metropolitan areas that young people out of college cannot afford to live there on one salary, and that women have to work to afford this type of housing. You mean to tell me that we live in a society where those straight out of college cannot buy into the most desirable 2% of the housing market in this country. What a tragedy. Does she realize that the starting salary of a college graduate could afford to put the roof over the heads of a spouse and children in every county in this country? It may not be the nice housing in San Diego that she seems to see as minimally acceptable, but it is housing. She describes her generation as being one of entitlement, and then goes on to unknowingly prove it through her asinine series of recommendations at the end of the text.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Generation self-centered and unstructured, January 10, 2009
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This review is from: Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Paperback)
Initially I was excited by this book. As an anthropologist, the many differences between generations are a subject that never fails to fascinate. Unfortunately, while the author tosses out great statistics indicating fair research, she couches it all in an `I, me, my, mine' framework. This focuses the book not so much on a generation that may differ from those who came before but on the author herself, her education, her college years, and her friends. The overall impression is an unstructured book justifying why they themselves are having trouble with the joys and trials of living life.
If the reader is looking for another whining confused confessional please continue. If you are looking for a book that may lend insight in to why the under 30 crowd do what they do then I would recommend that you read elsewhere.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant synthesis of science and pop-culture, September 15, 2010
By 
Ben Winegard (Columbia, Missouri) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Paperback)
As a bona fide member of Generation Me and a graduate student in psychology, this book resonated very deeply.

First, let me confess that I was skeptical of Dr. Twenge's research before reading it. The idea of cultural and psychological decline seemed SO hackneyed and trite. I remembered reading it in Livy and other classical writers as well as seeing pundits all over the media fatuously bloviate about the decadence of our generation.

Well, let it be known that Twenge is not rehashing old chestnuts and decrying Generation Me. Instead she has done what everybody else has failed to do: Rigorously and painstakingly documented these changes scientifically. After reading her research articles there can be no doubt that generational trends are real. Besides, Twenge sees both the good and the bad in these changes and doesn't pass blame without first giving sociologically astute structural explanations.

So, what does this book add to the academically oriented reader who can simply do a google scholar search of Jean's articles? Context. She uses her deft knowledge of pop-culture, technological trends, and economics to give a very convincing, light-hearted, humorous, but measured explanation for the trends seen in Generation Me. Jumping from quotes in US Weekly to movies to case studies, Twenge provides a convincing narrative to support the abstract statistics. It's the difference between reading a dense tome on Julius Caesar and then watching that tome fleshed out in a great biography. Both are necessary but usually require separate authors. In this case, Jean Twenge does both--an accomplishment not to be underrated.

The book reads so well that I thought Jean should become a fiction writer. I envy her chatty, witty writing style and her ability to craft a sentence. Don't be fooled, however, by the ease of reading: Many of the chapters should be reread and contemplated. As is the case with any book that covers so much ground, there are ideas that I am not sold on and things to quibble with here and there. But that is the point! Read, think, and debate.

We are certainly a narcissistic, anxious, depressed, high self-esteemed, cynical, and ironic generation. It is about time that a true scientist did the research and provided a plausible explanation as to why this is the case.

One of the better books I have read in my short, anxious, selfish life.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Any person involved in ministry must read this book!!!, July 19, 2007
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This review is from: Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Paperback)
I am a pastor to young adults (ages 18-35) at a large church in California and I was introduced to this book a few months ago. It really hit home with the trends I was noticing in most of the young adults I was working with (myself included) at our church, and other pastors agreed. I especially appreciated the commentary on the Christian obsession with the self.

I enjoyed the book so much we decided to do an 8-week sermon series in which we're discussing the trends of the Gen Me culture and then reflecting on what Scripture has to say, mostly in contrast to the self focused message of the last 35 years (Jesus - "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)).

Twenge's book is brilliantly, blunt research which I've found to be extremely useful to churches, who are as much in the sociological field as they are the theological one in an ever-changing culture.
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106 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Self-Esteem Movement is Setting Our Kids up for Failure, June 26, 2006
This is a well-written and well-researched book that shows how detrimental our focus on self-esteem and self-fulfillment has become for the current generation. Some excerpts:

"Self-esteem programs are empty and shortsighted. Self-esteem based on nothing does not serve children well in the long run. It is better for children to develop real skills and feel good about accomplishing something."

"Extensive review of the research on self-esteem found that self-esteem does not lead to better grades, improved work performance, decreased violence, or less cheating. People with high self-esteem are often more violent and more likely to cheat."

"Instead of creating well-adjusted, happy children, the self-esteem movement has created an army of little narcissists. Narcissism is a very negative personality trait linked to aggression and poor relationships with others. Children are naturally self-centered; growing up is the process of learning how to empathize with other people."

5 things parents and teachers can do:

1. Get rid of the phrases, "You can be anything you want to be" and "Never give up on your dreams." Both statements are totally untrue. You can't be good at everything... no one is. And, sometimes you have to put true desires on hold while you deal with practical matters such as paying the bills and managing unexpected events. Even a very skilled baseball player is unlikely to make it all the way to the major leagues. An incredibly talented actress probably won't become a movie star. Young people shouldn't be discouraged from these professions, just made aware of how difficult it probably will be.

2. Get rid of "You must love yourself before you can love others." Narcissists are horrible relationship partners... duh! We develop a sense of ourselves from our relationships with others, and people who have good relationships with others are happier, less depressed, and have higher self-esteem.

3. Do not automatically side with your child. If a child says she failed a test because the teacher was unfair, defending her by going after the teacher shows her that she can blame others for her problems. Instead, children should learn to identify what they could have done to get a better grade. Children who believe that the grades are just arbitrarily decided by the teacher may not see any point in studying.

4. Limit exposure to violence. Huge amounts of scientific evidence show that kids exposed to violent media go on to act aggressively in real life. Some will say, "I played violent video games, and I am not a violent person." That may be true, but science shows average effects across hundreds of people, not individual experiences.

5. Junk the self-esteem movement, and instead teach self-control and good behavior. Self-control is linked to success in life. Help your children to see the consequences of the actions in their lives. If a child cries for a piece of candy at the store, and you give it to her, she has just learned that crying is an effective way to get what you desire. So, she will cry when she wants something next time, because that worked last time. Instead, give treats for good behavior. Don't cave in just because it temporarily feels better. Teach your children the importance of working toward goals. Discipline doesn't always mean punishment. It usually means not rewarding poor behavior, and praising good behavior.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars give it to your pregnant friends and relatives, March 27, 2007
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In general, I thought this book was quite good. It is not dry or academic at all, as I was expecting it to be. The research is explained briefly and then illustrated with anecdotes. Most of the conclusions are, I feel, intuitive and correct, and I felt like she was describing the experiences of my family and friends.

If there is a great weakness to the book, it is the book's failure to emphasize that the problems it addresses basically stem from poor philosophy, which is the underlying why to the how of poor child-rearing that she describes. I laughed out loud at her sequelae on hot-button political issues like multiculturalism, on which she lapses into the ideological language that she has effectively just been deriding. In sum, she says we need to move forward into the brave new world of the 1950s tweaked in just the way she wants it tweaked--a pretty amorphous and naive plan viewed from a soc-anth or poli-sci perspective.

Part of the reason that this failure creates a weakness in the book is that it ties her down to prescriptions that continue to deal with symptoms rather than underlying causes. Her advice to GenMe on avoiding depression essentially amounts to taking over-the-counter supplements instead of prescription meds (that was another place I laughed).

My completely unprofessional diagnosis is that the failure is connected to her own inability to overcome the GenMe mould. And why should she try when the basic difference between her and her confreres is that she has achieved what GenMe wants (prestigious job, satisfying unmarried lover, national fame, etc.)? The autobiographical portions of her book are mostly self-involved, and there is no sense of any feelings on her part of intergenerational, intrafamilial, or interpersonal duty--the emotional expressions of the correctives people need. Oh well, the rich are not the only ones who are not like you and me: there are the professors at elite universities as well.

Still, despite this criticism, I would like as many people as possible to read this book. When it arrived, I sat down to skim it and ended up stuck in my chair until I had finished it late that night.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a Middle School Teacher, December 15, 2007
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This review is from: Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Paperback)
Excellent read addressing issues of the teens today. As a teacher of 11-14 year olds and being in my 20s, I identify with this book on almost all levels. I also find myself quoting this and recommending to everyone. It's definitely being a Christmas gift for some colleagues and family members this year!
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful message - everyone should read this book, April 15, 2007
By 
S. Porretta (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Paperback)
This intriguing book sends a powerful and controversial message: if we don't want our kids to grow up being conceited, selfish, self-centered, egomaniacs who can't deal with rejection or hardships in their life, then we need to stop telling them that they are special and that they are the center of the universe. This is, of course, in direct contradiction to everything you hear nowadays everywhere from schools to the media. Messages like: "You can do anything/be anything if you put your mind to it/if you just try," "You are special," "Having high self-esteem is important," "Love yourself first," etc. The book challenges these kinds of statements and shows how they are detrimental to our youth.

I found this book to be highly readable and a real page-turner, full of interesting (if not shocking) facts and statistics and lots of references to pop culture and current events that most young people can relate to. It is a book both for Generation Me-ers and their parents.

We are indeed in a dire state of things when most kids believe that they are special above everyone else, that self-esteem is the most important quality, that loving yourself is more important than loving others, and that to heck with everyone else at the expense of yourself.

This book argues convincingly that our constant barrage at telling kids that they are special and #1 in everything (even when they're not) is actually detrimental to them. These kids with such supposedly high self esteem and independent minds are bound to end up alone and lonely because nobody will be able to stand them.

Although the book does an excellent job at outlining the problem in painstaking detail, I wish it would do more to suggest solutions to these problems. I found myself asking, "OK, I am outraged - now what do we do about this as parents?" The author suggests stopping these self-esteem movements at the school level, but what can you do in the home? Is it really realistic to tell parents not to tell their kids they are special, not to proudly hang up their "works of art" on the fridge, not to have personalized items in their rooms celebrating their names, their achievements, and their personalities? What is the alternative? The only possible solution that I could glean from this book is to tell your kids that sure, they are special - but so are others.

Overall, the book offers a positive message and I love how it contradicts and goes against modern wisdom to offer a new perspective. I wish it offered more answers to its own questions, but this is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in the state of our youth today - from parents, to educators, to the kids themselves. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book.
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