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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Who are the narcissists really?

In the latest in the generations wars that we feel compelled to read about online, the words narcissist and entitled are being thrown around quite easily. There is clearly a large divide between millennials and baby boomers--neither of which I am. As a bonafide "we have no idea what generation category you fall into Ms. Born in 1982" I feel I can provide a special and unbiased look at the war between young and old.

Just kidding. It's the same old shit you hear every time.

Only this time with extra examples and finger-pointing!

No, but seriously, if you are not sick of the generation wars, this is the place for you because I am about to get all up in old vs. young.

I think it started around the time that guy Wait but Why posted about millenials (or maybe it was Gen. Y? I can't remember) and thought they were all speshul unicorns deserving of everything.

On the one hand, I agreed with him. I mean, I am a special unicorn and I do deserve great things. Pegged me.

On the other hand, what the hell, dude? Just because I earned my participation trophy (half the time, remember, I'm not a full millennial) doesn't mean I think I won.

And recently, this amazing piece really unpacked how much millennials have lost at this whole life thing. And how it's not their fault (and it's really not). Then it squarely placed the blame on the boomers. Which I laughed at because who doesn't like blaming the previous generation in incredibly personal ways (like they're entitled, selfish, stupid, etc. I'm paraphrasing, but still). Anyway, it's all stuff that has been said about millennials that they're just expected to eat, so, yes, I experienced a little immature joy at this telling off of our elders.

However, these silly wars actually do have a base in something important.

What we have here is a lovers' quarrel. A miscommunication common between young people and older ones. But instead of the neighbor yelling at the kids to get off her lawn, or your mom making you put on a coat when it's clearly shorts weather, this time, there's money involve. There are futures involved. There are pasts involved. And everyone is just a little touchy because no one wants to be the real reason everything has sucked for the last seven years or so.

But, like, then a gem like this comes along. In this stellar piece of researched journalism, a mommy baby boomer is disgusted with the cold-hearted ways of two of her sons.

This causes her to ask the question: Why on Earth are all millennials so shitty?

She conducts her very own (I'm sure very scientific) survey on her own website, asking adult children who have cut their parents out of their lives about that experience.

Not shockingly, but shockingly to this woman, the adult children recognize that their parents "provided for them" over the years, and yet, only like 40 percent would ever consider reconciliation. Because a mom and dad doing their ONE job and keeping the kids alive and fed should overrule all other atrocities, amirite?

The woman never goes into whatever it is that caused her sons to walk away from her. She writes around it with the skill and swiftness of a drunk spider.

She concludes that narcissism is the answer here. Her boys, and thus all millennials who have chosen to stop speaking to their poor, innocent, loving parents, must be narcissists and there's just no making that better.

However, it doesn't take an astute reader to pick up on the cues that point to Elizabeth Vagnon being the narcissist. You know, not her sons.

First of all, her experience is not everyone's experience. Secondly, in order for a child to cut a parent out of his or her life, some shit went down. Like, some real shit. Let's not play. There is not an epidemic of children suddenly blocking out their parents. If anything, there seems to be more of it than before because 1) people are actually talking about it instead of keeping it ziplock tight, which is what families would used to do and 2) people in general are learning that it is okay to assert their life, safety and mental health, even when talking to their parents. Sorry, bros.

So, to write an entire essay on estrangement and never ever tell the reader why this has happened just reeks of "maybe you should look at your life and choices" to me. Maybe you aren't entirely the victim here. But no telling that to Vagnon. It sounds like her sons have tried.

Third, her "survey" question didn't ask about support or love or commitment to success of the children. It spoke of providing for them. That's a trick question. Your alcoholic, vitriolic, homophobic mom could have easily fed and clothed you as a child. You have to answer yes to that question. You probably even loved her fiercely. That doesn't mean that you need to want to make amends with her after she tossed your girlfriend out of the house in a racist diatribe, or whatever the case may be. The cause and effect questions are not related. They are, instead, a clear instance of "Look what you owe me. I am your mother." Narcissistic.

To use her own survey instead of relying on, I don't know, actual research from actual degree-holding professionals in the field? Oh, okay. That's not all about herself at all. On her website to promote traffic? Yup.

And to continue to "write about estrangement to heal the pain caused to so many parents?" How about, find a feel that a lot of people might have and exploit it for your personal gain?

Sounds about right.

Honestly, what everyone is doing is looking for a bad guy, but the truth is, there is no bad guy. There is no one age group that is totally narcissistic and there is no age group that was not entitled for their time. We only have the here and now, and we are all in this together, and I think we can all agree on one thing: it sucks.

The present totally sucks. There are good things about it, and as we move forward those good things are getting better. We should focus on that, and on working together to forward society, rather than tantruming about who is really to blame for how shitty we feel. Boomers, it's not because of millennials. Millennials, it's not because of boomers.

It just is.

So...let's get to conquering it.

But first...let's take a selfie.

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