Have you ever noticed how our generation, and subsequent generations, just love to talk about ourselves? We seem to think that everything we do is fascinating to other people when, more often than not, it is not. Us baby boomers were once called “The Me Generation,” and for good reason. So it should come as no surprise that we started a chain reaction of nationwide narcissism.
We love to talk about our boring and trivial daily routines to anyone who will listen, as if our friends want to know all about our diets and exercise routines. We think everyone wants to hear our reviews of the latest movies and TV shows. And, of course, the world is waiting with baited breath for our political opinions.
We don’t even usually wait until we’re asked. Too many of us feel an overwhelming desire to impose our thoughts and beliefs on others. You should try this restaurant I just went to, or read this book I just read, or follow who I follow. And if no one will listen to us? Then we’ll just post it on Facebook or tweet it on Twitter or have our kids explain how TikTok works. That way, we can at least get it off our chests. So what if we only get 2 pity “Likes.” We still said what we had to say. I’m just not sure why we had to say it. God forbid we should just keep our thoughts to ourselves.
(On a side note, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t know how to tell a good story, for God’s sake – please – don’t tell it!!! Learn how to read the room. When you see my eyes roll back in my head and I point a gun to my temple, take a hint and stop talking!)
I don’t remember our parent’s generation being like this. As I recall, they were a lot more stoic and private about their lives. Oh sure, we had to sit through the same old stories about how hard it was to live through the depression or how their parents were much tougher on them than they are on us. But that was because they were trying to teach us life lessons, values, and appreciation. Most of which we didn’t learn because, when we’re young, we have no interest in hearing about old people’s lives. We’re already too consumed with our own.
Both my parents passed away when I was relatively young before I ever thought to ask them about their lives before they had children. Now, that’s one of my biggest regrets in life. There were a handful of the same stories they told over the years, but I never probed deeply into any of them or thought to go beyond those. It wasn’t until I was older that I finally took my head out of my ass and started paying more attention to the world and people around me. Unfortunately, by then, it was too late for me to get to know my mother and father on an adult level.
Has any generation before ours ever been so preoccupied with getting old? I think not. Somehow, our parents grew old without constantly obsessing over the aging process or being surprised by the inevitable forces of nature. They might have complained about their physical ailments trying to garner our sympathy or command our attention, but they seemed pretty much at peace with the fact that they were getting old. Not like our generation, who fights against our declining years like Don Quixote charging at windmills.
So is it any wonder that we have spawned generations of selfie-absorbed young people who are obsessed with themselves? They’ve taken our fascination with self to a whole other level. They think that everyone wants to see every picture of everywhere they go, everything they do and every meal they eat. They call it “sharing” but it sounds more like “hey everybody, look at me!” And it’s not even their fault. We raised them to be that way by photographing and fussing over every little thing they did growing up.
I know there are many exceptions to the phenomenon I’ve been describing. There are obviously a lot of altruistic people who spend all or part of their lives dedicated to helping those who are less fortunate than themselves. And I shudder to think what the world would be like without them. But in the history of America, have there ever been so many people who think of themselves first and foremost? Most people only vote for or against the issues that affect them directly, not the ones that serve the greater good. Especially if it’s at the expense of their own self-interests.
Obviously, I am talking about myself here, as much as anyone. As evolved and enlightened as I like to think I am, I know I still have a long way to go before I can reach my lofty goals of being the person I always wanted to be. I’m still a work in progress. I know there’s a lot more I can do to help others and to think of the world holistically if I can just get past the rabbit hole of how everything affects me. With everything going on in the world right now, it seems like an important and challenging time to get out of my own head.
If you recognized yourself in any of the stereotypical characteristics of our generation that I just described, then I invite you to join me in my quest to be less self-absorbed and more self-less.