Thursday, July 17, 2008
Why Are We So Self-absorbed?
(image credit: Malingering)
My buddy Ben Casnocha has a post up where he speculates about whether or not today's youth are more self-absorbed than in the past. He argues that both technology and today's therapy culture may be responsible.
Here's my response:
In general, I am always suspicious of anyone who argues that human nature has changed from the good old days. Human nature doesn't change, at least on the human lifespan timescale.
The old always think the young are self-absorbed because they forget just how self-absorbed they were during their own salad days. I don't believe for a second that the Yalies of the 1800s were smaller assholes than the Yalies of the 2000s.
The main difference today is that we have enough material wealth and prosperity to allow the luxury of self-absorbtion.
Any behavior that is maladapted to survival or reproductive success is apt to be bitchslapped out of existence by Mother Nature, pronto.
Because we have such a greater margin of safety in 21st Century America than at any other time in history, more of us have the opportunity to luxuriate in the soothing balm of our own vooices.
If you want to see this principle at work, just look at the relative morality and cultural contributions of the European royal families over the past 1,000 years.
Power and material wealth don't necessarily make you a self-absorbed asshole, but without them, an asshole isn't likely to live long enough to reproduce.