Our generation is filled with self-absorbed, people who are not only interested in success but are also interested in power, beauty and being special.
This isn’t a bad thing, really; but that we seek these things, even when we evidently do not have any tangible value to offer, is the problem. We need to know this: no one is that special, no one is that great, and no one is entitled to jack. We should get over ourselves already. (This is the G-rated version).
Over the years, there has been an alarming decrease in words like we and us and a significant trend towards I and me—Every man for himself, we say. Many years ago, songs by ace and veteran musicians mainly reflected social connection and positive emotions. I remember Sonny Okosun’s song, Great Change about social development in Nigeria; Onyeka Onwenu’s song about love for one another. Sunny Ade, Ik Dairo, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the likes, were famous musicians that made us love life and appreciate people through their music. They used terms that portray unity and support for one another and called out repugnant social behaviours. Today, we can barely count songs that have social inclusive messages in them.
There is a prevailing cultural trend at play right now, and the idea that a simple life is meaningless is a strong part of this trend (this line reminds me of Cobhams Asuquo’s song—Ordinary People). There is the desire to believe that I am doing something that matters (even when it is insignificant) and the measure of this is the number of pats I get in the back, the likes I get on Facebook and Instagram. It is so easy to measure the smallness of our lives by the standard of celebrities. And the heartbreaking thing is that younger humans are fed this steady diet through reality TV, projected celebrity lifestyle and un-monitored social media, causing them to develop a completely twisted worldview.
This new cultural messaging everywhere is changing how we live, speak and love. Back in the day, our grandparents did not have high expectations of their spouses, knowing that they themselves are also imperfect people. They were concerned about characters and attitudes they could cope with and merge with what they were also bringing to the table to make a successful home. It’s why they celebrate 40 years wedding anniversary; it’s why they are sticking together even at 80. Fast forward to today, many of us expect from the other person what we are not ready to give. We want a partner who listens and does our every biding, but are we ready to do the same?
Truth be told, have we now become an entitled bunch that we believe we are superior to the other person even when we are not really making any difference? Is it true that we lack the necessary empathy to be compassionate, connected people—the ability that makes us truly human? The kind of feeling that helps us understand how others are feeling so we can respond appropriately to the situation. Do we make assumptions that are not even true and go ahead to think the worst of people?
If you are like me, you are probably wincing a bit and thinking, yes, this is exactly the problem with today’s world. Not with me, of course… but in general. We feel good about having an explanation, especially one that conveniently makes us feel better about ourselves and places blame on other people.
The trend of narcissism has eaten deep into our social consciousness that most people associate it with a pattern of behaviour that includes a persistent need for admiration and a lack of empathy. If we, at this moment, try to humanize narcissism, we will observe that behind it is the fear of being ordinary; the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong or to cultivate a sense of purpose. These are baseless fears. The sooner we realize this, the better for us and the generation coming after us.
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