According to a new study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University and Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, discovered that college students rank receiving compliments (or doing well on an exam) above all other pleasurable activities, including seeing a friend, eating their favorite, receiving a paycheck, and even, yes, sex.
Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University was shocked (as was his team) by the findings, which are published online by the Journal of Personality, suggests that many young people may be a little too focused on themselves and inflating their own self worth. Bushman also stated that there is a fine line between self-esteem and narcissism. Over the top self-esteem becomes narcissism.
“We purposely chose things that we thought college students love. Most of the participants were around 19. College students love drinking, they love sex. They are poor; they love money and getting a paycheck. “
The study also raised interesting questions about the role of self-esteem and how important it is to functioning in society.
“It wouldn’t be correct to say that the study participants were addicted to self-esteem. But, they were closer to being addicted to self-esteem than they were to being addicted to any other activity we studied.”
These results really aren’t that astounding if you take a look at the culture young people are immersed in. First, everyone is a celebrity because of websites like Facebook and Twitter. All of the seemingly trivial things that happen in our lives on a daily basis are turned into status updates or hourly tweets. Everything we do is seen as special or unique, instead of mundane and normal.
Reality television has replaced scripted shows for the most part on cable. We are watching ourselves all day long. Popular sites like YouTube allow us to post videos of ourselves and see how many people “view” us or “like” us.
Everything is about “me” in our society. The foods we eat, the clothes we wear, even the cell phone we choose, says something about our personality and what we value. Little girls’ clothing is covered with sayings like “spoiled brat” or “princess”, which reinforces the notion that this generation feels as though they are meant to be overindulged and treated like royalty.
Of course, it’s all a guise. Does any of it really make us happier? Are these superficial interactions able to take the place of real and meaningful conversations with people we care about? Is it really that fun to fixate and focus on oneself 24-7? Many times, we seem to crave compliments because we feel so insignificant and unimportant. All day long we stare at glossy magazine covers with airbrushed celebrities, and think, “that’s what I must be. Glossy and perfect.” In reality, those who fish for compliments, want everyone to like them, and seek their validation outside of themselves are only setting themselves up for failure, because their own insecurity will get the better of them.
According to wikipedia, the story of Narcissus goes as follows:
In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who had never seen his reflection. The nymph Echo had been punished by Hera for gossiping by being cursed to forever "have the last word". Echo had seen Narcissus walking through the forest and wanted to talk to him, but because of the curse she wasn't able to speak first. When Narcissus became thirsty and stopped to take a drink, he saw his reflection in the water for the first time. Not knowing any better, he fell in love and started talking to it. Echo had been following him and started repeating the last thing he said. Not yet understanding reflections, Narcissus thought his reflection was speaking to him and became more engaged. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away at the pool and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.
Is that us? Are we that flower?