This archived article was written by: Michael Overson
I recently read an article on CNN.com, which said that today’s college students are more narcissistic than their predecessors. When I had finished the article the only thought that came to mind was well, duh. After all it should be no surprise that the youth of today are more self centered and self absorbed when really, isn’t that how we were brought up? My mind is fresh with pictures of countless children making scenes in grocery stores and other public places. The common response by parents is to give in and cater to the child.
The main problem with the article is that it is not a new problem. Take for instance the movie “A Clockwork Orange,” directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971, even then the film hinted at the self-centeredness of youth. The film, which upfront is a must see, takes a close look at the life of Alex DeLarge, The troubled youth is caught up in his own search for happiness or at the very least, an escape from boredom, not bothering to think about the consequences of the actions of he and his friends. From the first spoken lines in the movie, “There was nothing I hated more than to see a filthy old drunkie, howling away at the filthy songs of his father’s and going blurp, blurp in between as if it were a filthy, old orchestra in his stinking rotten guts. I could never stand to see anyone like that, especially when they were old like this one was” to the not so quick but nevertheless effective beating they give an old homeless man, it is apparent that there is no thought of remorse or caring for anybody beside themselves. Granted the youth of today do not go out every day and beat elderly citizens, but the trend is on the rise.
Also in the film is a scene where the band of kids forces their way into a home and rapes the wife while beating the husband, and all the while DeLarge is singing “Singing in the Rain.” Such a carefree song used in such a grotesque circumstance is poignant of the fact that normal people would think of this as a horrible act, one that should never occur. The fact that the whole band has no second thought about what they are doing to entertain themselves shows they are self-motivated. They idolize themselves because all attempts to stop this problem failed so far. I think that the best example of not caring or even having compassion is when they attempt a robbery and the police are called. Delarge is the only one of the group inside the house and as he tries to make his escape his “friends” smash a milk bottle on his face causing him to be caught. Even in his time of need the others looked out for themselves first and foremost.
Towards the end of the film when Alex is institutionalized and volunteers for a new kind of herapy to save him some anguish in prison, it is apparent that he is not trying to change. It is merely a ploy to make his life easier. Even in prison he thinks of himself. Come to find out these “therapies” are both cruel and unusual.
It is ironic that he must endure torture just as his victims did. When faced with this, he does not seem to realize what he did to those people. It does not seem to sink in that he has adversely affected people. While inside he tries his best to project the attitude of reform, but even at the parole hearing, the question remains whether or not his change is sincere.
Totally losing compassion for others, as he seems to have done in this movie, is something that cannot be fixed with shock treatment. Just as today we cannot fix the problem of youth with studies that find we are self-absorbed people. Yes, we have problems, but telling us that the world is on a downward spiral is not going to fix it. Prevention is really the only tool that could be used to thwart this evil. After someone is affected? Well then sorry to say I have no advice for you.
These examples, even though extreme help show that youth have always had their own intentions. Will my generation pay for our narcissistic ways? It is inevitable that there will be some kind of fallout for our actions. While today the trend has switched to a, I’ll care about you after I look out for myself attitude, there is still a trend to help people.
The youth of today, myself included, do look out for other people’s needs. We help out when it is necessary and sometimes when it is not. The fact is, yes we do look out for ourselves first. After fulfilling our own needs we help other people, it just takes us longer than it took our parents.