It feels like a bit of a rant, but apparently Bret Easton Ellis has earned the right to critique the younger, Millennial generation.
Even if you don’t like his judgments—and his point is that Millennials do not like and cannot handle any negative judgment of their worth—his writing is still worth reading.
In effect, Ellis describes what happens to children when they are brought up to have high self-esteem, regardless of their accomplishments. People who have chosen to follow the dictates of the therapy culture have apparently done damage to their children.
Ellis has been here before, and has been attacked for generalizing. He offers this portrait of what he calls Generation Wuss:
My huge generalities touch on their over-sensitivity, their insistence that they are right despite the overwhelming proof that suggests they are not, their lack of placing things within context, the overreacting, the passive-aggressive positivity, and, of course, all of this exacerbated by the meds they’ve been fed since childhood by over-protective “helicopter” parents mapping their every move. These are late-end Baby Boomers and Generation X parents who were now rebelling against their own rebelliousness because of the love they felt that they never got from their selfish narcissistic Boomer parents and who end up smothering their kids, inducing a kind of inadequate preparation in how to deal with the hardships of life and the real way the world works: people won’t like you, that person may not love you back, kids are really cruel, work sucks, it’s hard to be good at something, life is made up of failure and disappointment, you’re not talented, people suffer, people grow old, people die. And Generation Wuss responds by collapsing into sentimentality and creating victim narratives rather than acknowledging the realities of the world and grappling with them and processing them and then moving on, better prepared to navigate an often hostile or indifferent world that doesn’t care if you exist.
When Ellis first offered his views of Generation Wuss, he was deluged with stories that proved his point:
… a father related a story how he remembered watching in frustration as his son participated in a tug-of-war game with his classmates on the field of his elementary school and after a minute or two the well-meaning coach announced the game was officially a tie, told the kids they did a great job, and everyone got a ribbon. Occasionally there were darker stories: guilt-ridden parents chastising themselves for coddling kids who when finally faced with the normal reality of the world drifted into drugs as an escape…from the normal reality of the world. Parents kept reaching out and told me they were tormented by this oppressive need to reward their kids constantly in this culture. That in doing so they effectively debilitated them from dealing with the failures we all confront as get older, and that their children were unequipped to deal with pain.
Unable to deal with failure, unequipped to deal with pain. Instead of changing their ways, they believe that negative emotions have nothing to do with their actions in the world and do not require them to do things differently. They have learned that negative emotions are merely a chemical imbalance that needs to be regulated through the consumption of psychoactive medication.