I want to play with an idea that came to me this morning, one that will perforce save me from my tendency to overthink my writing: the ten minute drill. Identify a topic, and write a more or less complete post in ten minutes. Let’s do it.
On being special
I know it quietly drives my generation crazy, the incredible, seemingly endless pursuit of being and feeling special that characterizes our kids’ generation. Do we have only ourselves to blame? Wasn’t it us that unleashed the entire self-esteem initiative once upon a time that has delivered us to this?
Well, yes, and I’m not interested in tossing the baby out with the bath water, since I think the self-esteem initiative has done a nice job of curbing the schoolyard jungle effect that characterized my era of growing up. Have we overdone that, have we now sanitized and made so nicey nice the atmosphere for kids that they show up eventually to the real world wholly unprepared for its slings and arrows? YES! I hear from corporate types all the time about the thin skinned nature of entry level employees these days.
Be we didn’t concoct this thing by ourselves. Let’s give a few key nods to our collaborators in this crime. Dr. Spock, step forward. If I’m not mistaken, he was the first professional out there, I think back in the 60s, who made the reasonable and curiously counterintuitive point that parenting style had an impact on the development of kids. Societies are crude and fumbling entities, and so we took his wisdom and ran far too far with it—suddenly it was all parents’ faults for how kids were turning out (and let’s be clear: mothers took this hit a heck of a lot more than fathers).
Then the self-esteem initiative showed up for real sometime, I think, in the 90s. The whole, “every kid gets a trophy” thing. Makes you want to beat your head against the wall, now, doesn’t it? This led to the anti-bullying movement that began about a decade ago, and that to the current era of identity politics (“I am ME and the whole world owes me appreciation for that fact!”). All of these things have been important; all of these things have curbed abuses that were not cool where individual freedoms and the right to grow up liking yourself were concerned. BUT, it’s this school counselor’s view that we’ve moved a bit forward a bit faster than we as a species have been able to evolve and handle effectively. I get a lot of phone calls from parents who tell me their kid is getting bullied, when the aggression is along the lines of not having been invited to some event.
Here’s the thing: we really don’t know, and won’t know for a while, how this is all truly going to play out when these kids are adults and more fully functioning members of society. So, we shall see, and in the meantime, don’t let the sight of another kid taking a selfie drive you too crazy!