Abigail Fisher and the Me Generation

Her affirmative action case is one example, but millennials' sense of entitlement transcends race.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, revealed findings from a study she conducted of 16,000 university students across the United States in 2006 that showed 30 percent were narcissistic in psychological tests, compared with 15 percent in 1982. Twenge said, in a 2011 speech, of this statistic, ”They are all 18- and 19-year-olds, so this is clearly a generational shift.”

The trend was attributed to “permissive parenting, celebrity culture and the Internet.” The result? Narcissists with an “inflated sense of self, [who] lacked empathy, were vain and materialistic and had an overblown sense of entitlement.” Other studies (pdf) have found that “millennials are more likely to value money, image and fame over community, affiliation and self-acceptance.”

Perhaps Fisher was emboldened by people — her parents, fellow self-involved peers surrounding her — to think that her outlook is all that matters. No attempts to see other people’s perspectives, including that of the admissions officers at the University of Texas at Austin, who said regardless of her race she wouldn’t have gotten in. All that mattered to her was, “I wanted this, I didn’t get it, now others must pay.”

Her vanity is disgusting, but it’s becoming a pastime within my age group. Anyone who carries that entitled attitude with them through life is already losing — regardless of whether or not a few Supreme Court justices agree with you.

On the meaning of her study, Twenge noted in 2011 that she was concerned about a growing culture ”that seems to not just accept narcissism but finds it laudatory.” The college students she spoke to weren’t surprised about her findings, telling her, “We have to be this way because the world is more competitive.” Twenge countered that the problem with such a pro-narcissism stance is that it “doesn’t help you compete” and “blows up in your face eventually.”

One hopes so, anyway.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. And a millennial. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter.

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