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Are people in America changing?

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Are Americans different today than in the past? More self-indulgent? Lacking in empathy? Even lacking in basic respect for others?

Has our electronic world created a society of an insatiably self-admiring, "LOOK AT ME" generation?

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" appears to have been revised to "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for yourself."

Dr. Keith Ablow, psychiatrist, analyzes the effects of social media on children today in his FOXNEWS article and video, We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists. Dr. Ablow describes the effects of self-obsessed displays of flattering photos on social media, along with the ability to immediately 'delete' any negative comments. He adds, "On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of 'friends.'"

Dr. Ablow refers to the effects of social media as "the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards to turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.

Referring to today's technology and resulting narcissism, Dr. Ablow cites research indicating that "college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing."

Although 'narcissism' is considered an undesirable personality disorder, it is increasingly being used to describe the behavior of today's youth and young adults.

"Narcissism basically means that a person is totally absorbed in self," according to Samuel López De Victoria, Ph.D., in How To Spot a Narcissist. He states, "At the core of extreme narcissism is egotistical preoccupation with self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others."

"Lack of empathy and exploitative interpersonal relationships are hallmarks of narcissism," according to pchtreatment.com. Family estrangement is suggested as a possible result. "Persons with Narcissist Personality Disorder usually have interpersonal problems with family, loved ones, or co-workers."

Some believe that schools may foster 'self-obsession' and a 'feeling of entitlement.'

Many schools now give awards for both winning and losing. Just show up - - that's all! Sandra Diamond Fox's article, Is today's society too self-centered?, describes awards being given to all elementary students simply for showing up for events - - not for winning. She states, "If you were raised with a feeling of entitlement, and then you grow up and fall on hard times, it's harder to believe you can turn things around because you won't have the skills to do this."

In her article, New data on college students and overconfidence, Martha Irvine, writer, quotes a college student's view of the 'overconfidence' problem as "kids are being encouraged to be the best that they can be. . . I think that this can create a superiority complex for those who begin to think that their best is better than everyone else's." "Modesty and humility are no longer common and are becoming harder to find."

Martha Irvine quotes Jean Twenge, author and psychologist, "Twenge has argued that the self-esteem movement — 'where every kid is special' — has contributed to this." And she adds, "Others wonder if over-confidence is a byproduct of the super-pushy 'tiger parent' syndrome, where even average parents set up music classes and sports and outside tutoring so their children can get ahead."

In her article, Being a good sports parent, Jane Weaver, Health Editor at NBCNews, discusses today's problem of overly aggressive, competitive parents and their effects on children. Weaver sums up parental aggression by stating, "Are some of them just aging failed athletes trying to live vicariously through their athletic children? Anxious moms and dads hoping that their kids can snare college sports scholarships? Or fanatic parents pushing their offspring to become elite athletes with specialized training, summer camps and personal coaches, whether the child wants it or not?"

Current popular music is believed by many to promote narcissism and desensitization. John Tierney's article in The New York Times, A Generation’s Vanity, Heard Through Lyrics, sums up the current musical trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music. He quotes Dr. DeWall, psychologist, "the words “I” and “me” appear more frequently along with anger-related words, while there’s been a corresponding decline in “we” and “us” and the expression of positive emotions."

Tierney also quotes Dr. Jean Twenge, psychologist, to describe current music, “The recent songs are about what the individual wants, and how she or he has been disappointed or wronged.”

And what effect has violent movies and endless hours of video games had on children?

The article, Study: Violent media numbs viewers to the pain of others, describes the results of two studies conducted by University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman and Iowa State University professor Craig Anderson. Their studies "show that playing violent video games and watching violent movies make people less empathic and sensitive to the suffering of others."

Their studies quote Brad Bushman, professor of psychology at the U-M Institute for Social Research, "People exposed to media violence are less helpful to others in need because they are 'comfortably numb' to the pain and suffering of others."

So, in today's world . . . if another driver hits your car while you are driving, be prepared to quickly memorize the tag number because the driver may not be thinking about 'you.'

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