Age of narcissism

Op-ed: Instead of being ashamed, young Israelis have turned emigration into a source of pride

Emigrating from Israel, which was once something to be ashamed of, has suddenly turned into a source of pride. Many of the heroes of the Internet protest in foreign countries are young Israelis who were born in the 1980s. Members of the "lost generation" are accusing the State of leaving them instead of taking responsibility for their expressions of narcissism.


Those born in the 1980s, who are also nicknamed "the Facebook generation," have turned into self-centered creatures worldwide. A comprehensive, up-to-date study based on 14,000 personality questionnaires, which was published recently by the University of Michigan, reveals that since the year 2000 there has been a sharp drop in the level of empathy. This means that across the global village, young people make their needs their top priority and are oblivious to the needs of their fellowman.


What happened in the 1980s that made an entire generation become egocentric? Theoreticians in the dynamic approach link situations of over-indulgence during childhood to patterns of demanding in adult life. In addition, many parents emphasized achievements instead of values as a condition for love. Our local swamp, which imparts indulgence and pursues intellectual excellence, has produced a fine species of narcissus.


The devaluation of social solidarity is also identified with the draft dodging phenomenon. Suddenly, the dodgers demanded recognition as "conscientious objectors," and the talents asked for recognition as the new ambassadors. And so shame and modesty were replaced with pride and arrogance. An authentic concern for the State was gradually replaced with the question of what can it actually give me, and ideals were replaced with interests.


Seeing grandchildren through Skype

Those young people did not leave us, God forbid. It's the State that left them, and they must explain the situation here to us from the Diaspora so that we prepare a proper country for them. Dear narcissus, for your information, there may have been a certain brain drain, but we have enough brains left to understand the flaws here ourselves. We need comebacks, not talkbacks. We understand your needs, but your hand better shake on the keyboard before you launch ideas and preach morals to those holding the fort.


Now, in that same reversal in values, we are asked to understand how you feel and watch what we say so that, God forbid, you don't lose your affinity to Judaism either.


We are required, therefore, to show empathy towards your difficulty, and not vice versa. You are asking for solidarity over your distance from friends and family, instead of expressing regret for not being here to support them. I have heard a lot of yearning, I haven't heard enough expressions of empathy towards those parents forced to get to know their grandchildren through Skype. You are asking us day and night to show you affection and understanding "without any conditions," just like your parents. You, on the other hand, are setting a high standard of conditions for you to accept us.

In that same obliviousness, you are asking the wonderful young people who chose to stay here to arrange you a state which matches your size and skills. Instead of thanking them, you are seeking condolences for being driven away.


Ahead of the new civil year, we're asking those criticizing us in the media and on Facebook to try to develop greater sensitivity towards others. They may have thousands of friends on Facebook, but they are lacking the understanding that real friendship is based on social solidarity, on appreciating the excellent young people who chose to deal with the difficulties here.


We're sorry, it's difficult for us to shower your reflections with "likes" as we don't have the privilege other nations have, to glorify economic welfare and intellectual hedonism at the expense of social solidarity. Settle for that and don't bite the hand that has given you life.


Dr. Dafna Katzenelson Bank, a senior clinical psychologist and doctor of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University's Hebrew Literature Department, teaches at Haifa University and the Ono Academic College



פרסום ראשון: 10.22.13, 19:58
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