Reporting Jon Keller
Filed underBlogs, CBS Boston Blogs, Heard On WBZ NewsRadio 1030, Keller @ Large, Local, News, Politics, Syndicated Local, Watch + Listen
BOSTON (CBS) - Maybe we should add this to the ever-growing list of scientific studies that prove something we already knew, such as too much of anything probably isn’t good for you.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
According to USA Today, researchers at San Diego State University used an online database that includes the text of millions of books to track usage trends of certain words and phrases. And they found that since 1960, there’s been a steady increase in the use of words — like “self,” “loner,” and “personal — and phrases like “I am special,” “looking out for number one,” and the ever-popular “my needs” that convey individualism.
At the same time, words like “community,” “team” and “share,” and phrases like “all in this together,” “common good,” and “united we stand” have become significantly less common.
American culture has always emphasized individualism, but one of the study’s co-authors tells USA Today “these trends reflect a sea change in American culture toward more individualism,” not necessarily about independence and self-reliance, but “an emphasis on uniqueness and greatness, and things being personalized for the individual.”
In other words, the “me” generation – also known as the baby boomers – is on the march and expressing its narcissism in its writings, along with just about everything else it does.
As writer Kurt Andersen put it in a recent New York Times piece: “’Do your own thing’ is not so different than ‘every man for himself.’ If it feels good, do it, whether that means smoking weed and watching porn and never wearing a necktie, retiring at 50 with a six-figure public pension and refusing modest gun regulation, or moving your factories overseas and letting commercial banks become financial speculators. The self-absorbed ‘Me’ Decade, having expanded during the ’80s and ’90s from personal life to encompass the political economy, will soon be the ‘Me’ Half-Century.”
Luckily for us, the baby-boomers are a big generation, which includes many of the most altruistic, community-minded people you’ll ever meet.
Hopefully, they’ve raised plenty of kids and grandkids just like them. They’re the ones who are going to have to clean up the “me” generation’s mess.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.