Generational narcissism

I have just come across an article; a fairly standard offering. ‘Ones to watch.’ Once upon a time, these sorts of thing would showcase the best, the brightest new talent. Edgy, but clever. Lateral, but relevant. Interesting to read and look at and a little bit lifting.

This one? Not a bit. Apart from one person out of the ten, it was all navel-gazing, self-expressive, narcissism. It was more fine art than design and illustration. Visually, it had the unrefined aesthetic of foundation level experimentation. Pseudo-political comment with no purpose much beyond self-expression, self-discovery and self-doubt.

Laid bare, the wages of a generation whose selfie arm is longer that the other. A generation of fragile egos craving the validation of unknown likes. Vacuous, shallow and naive (that last one has never been different, mind). However, where once youthful anger would be outward looking and rage against the world’s injustices, now it is introspective and a distraction. It is an Orwellian prophecy made manifest.

I fear what it will do – is doing – to the quality of work being put out there and I fear for society as a whole. Whilst a generation look inwards, though it’s screens, the previous generation are committing greedy acts of injustice, unchecked. Where once the younger generation would expose it, they are too busy self-validating to even see what it right under their noses – probably because that position has been usurped by a device.

I hope – and actually I believe – that things will come full circle in the end and once again quality will count for something. Count for more than the self. It can’t come soon enough. The tide needs to start turning. Let’s hope a year-long pandemic becomes the catalyst and we start to remember what design is all about again.

All that from an article about ten mediocre ‘creatives’, I’m not entirely sure where I was going with it, other than put it out there as a general question; How can we help effect this change in our industry – and society, as one is symptomatic of the other? Do we see it changing, or is it terminal decline?

It’s difficult to respond to what you’ve written without reading whatever it was that prompted you to do so. Do you have a link?

I think the change is something that is inevitable in our industry as the barrier to entry changes and it becomes more accessible due to technology. It’s fair to say it’s a radically different game to how it was 20 or even 10 years ago.

I think this is part of a “good enough” revolution which has happened too, where some people don’t need things with high production value.

Am not sure whether anything can be done to change it, but I don’t see it as problem either :thinking:

I don’t I’m afraid. It disappeared as quickly as it arrived. Actually, it makes no real difference anyway. We’ve all seen them. The question was more general.

Arguably, it was far too early in the morning for existential conundrums – and without a beer or two, fairly indefensible – but I just thought I’d throw that particular gauntlet down to spark a general ‘state of the industry/ world’ discussion anyway.

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I hate to tell you this, but it isn’t all that new. It did start with the social media platforms though and has grown ever since. The need for Likes. The need for Links. The need to immerse oneself in a bubble of what I can only describe as circular-self-justification. It isn’t relegated to just this industry. It’s rampant.

Can it be fixed? Probably by nothing short of a full solar flare EMP strike, which, considering it has happened in the past when people were far less tech dependent, is a distinct possibility.

Oh, and the people doing “greedy acts of injustice” is not strictly relegated to “the previous generation.”

The gaming mentality is alive and well. Particularly the part where, if a Cheat exists, it will be exploited.

Well, since you tipped the first domino of a philosophical muster, I’ll take a cue to ramble, perhaps pointlessly, or not.

They are not mutually exclusive.

Everything (we know) is in terminal decline. It is a law of our cosmos, and to an extent, all the cosmoses, but ours is of relatively low position on scale, and bleaker than all Above. From the moment a man is born, he begins to die. Even in growth, death is essential and ever-impending.

BUT, to your question, it will change because the process of death is not linear, it is cyclic, as are all phenomena at our plane of perception. This is a property of the Law of 7, or the Law of Octaves. On the musical scale, the first 3 steps (ascending), are “whole” steps, and can be taken as a linear progression in rate of vibration. The 4th step is a “half” step, a change in trajectory. Whole steps 5, 6, and 7 continue in linear fashion along the trajectory offset from the original 3 steps by the half-step interval at 3-4. When the progression resolves sufficiently to sound a next, (8th) note, the first of a successive octave, the interval from 7 is another half-step—another deflection in trajectory. All process in universal Nature is subject to this law, at the root of the adage; “no straight lines in nature.” If a progression of successive octaves was plotted on a graph, spiral patterns would emerge indicative of the natural “breath cycle” pervading all existence. We see evidence models of various scale all around, in the changing of seasons, the cycling of tides, the birth and death of our skin cells, and even human-perpetrated “trends” and tendencies.

The other important property of this physical law, as it applies to worlds of this order to which we belong, is that descending octaves (spirals) far outnumber ascending ones. After all, here where substances are dense and vibrations are slow, relatively speaking, it takes far less effort to fall than it does to climb. Thus for our purposes, all is ever-changing, and all is in terminal decline.

Told ya.

One of the reasons I left Facebook about 10 years ago.
I was obsessed with people giving likes and if I didn’t get some likes for posting I was getting depressed. It was really bad.

It’s like an addiction. If you get what you want you are happy and euphoric, but when denied the cravings, for whatever addiction you have, you spiral, and you can’t get out of that spiral downwards.

Unfortunately, this generation are born into it, but at least it’s more understood and studied.

When social media first came out, nobody really understood it, or it’s impact on social in general. It was all new. And it drove a new sense of entitlement.

But sense of entitlement is false, back in the day people were saying and doing whatever they wanted on social media - there was virtually no consequences unless nefarious actions online.

But nowadays, they are slowly coming about with social media, mental health and lots of other things.

I noticed the new generation of kids are very demanding, everything is now. Even had a friends kid come over and was furious that there were adverts, there aren’t any adverts on the iPad. But there are on TV - couldn’t wrap her mind around it. Same when I was looking for cartoon channel, furious it took so long. I was taken aback. I simply said if you keep that up you won’t watch any cartoons. That shut her up. Yeh, I belittled a kid and it felt great.

I haven’t fully read the opening post - my comment are just on social likes.

How good is that?! One post about mediocre illustration and design and we get to full-on cosmic entropy! Love it.

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Well, it’s all about the likes. It’s a generation copying a generation.

My old boss from years ago was complaining about his teenage daughter saying every morning she comes down the stairs and head is buried in her phone.

He walked around with his head in his phone all day and his head up his ass.

Monkey see monkey do.

I fell in that trap on the illustration forum. I was doing things for likes, or approvals or kudos whatever. Llittle tiny badges under the images. Then prompts started getting sillier and sillier. So now I just draw what I want and Heck with em if they can’t take a joke, LOL.
Maybe that there is another example of generational narcissism :laughing:

I just barely crawled out of bed to let the dog outside to pee. It’s snowing and still twilight. My mind is foggy, and it’s too early for a coherent essay. I won’t try to compete with all you clear-headed early risers for philosophical acuity and likes.

Every generation imagines the decline of those that follow — they’re lazy, shallow, decadent, unappreciative, and self-centered. I suspect it’s always been this way. Add a few years into the equation, and today’s 20-year-olds will be complaining about their children and grandchildren.

As for graphic design, it’s changing in ways I don’t like, but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that change is constant and unavoidably disruptive.

Those new to the field will take for granted that the current situation is the way it should be. They’ll adapt and thrive or move on to something better suited to their liking. Thirty years down the road, the survivors will complain and write reminiscent rants about their good old days and how everything has changed for the worse.


As the resident millennial, I have an obligation:


ok boomer.

With that out of the way, context is everything. Without seeing the article that prompted this, I can only generalize - and I’m gonna try to be coherent and comprehensive, but it’s a messy topic and I’m an armchair philosopher at best.

Yeah, Gens Y & Z are definitely involved in their electronics way more than any previous generation - Millennials were born into “the old ways” and grew hand-in-hand with technology - and Gen Z was born into it, so for both it feels natural. I don’t think either one is inherently more narcissistic, though - there’s a quote I’d like to reference:

#“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households.”

That may seem particularly relevant to the current age - but that quotes from Socrates. Every generation has looked at the one following them and shaken their heads with contempt. The difference here is how the social media and the internet at large have made it much easier for the folly of youth to be broadcast. As a younger millennial (read: 28*), I barely escaped having my biggest, stupidest moments broadcast to the world - I’m lucky enough that my personal idiocy is contained in memory and shared by word of mouth alone, and not captured and not shared as a meme. (I can safely say that none of you are going to know what I’m talking about when I mention “the sumo incident” and for that I am incredibly grateful.)

And that ties in another problem with social media, and that’s the way thoughts spread. One kid does/says something stupid, someone sees it and shares it saying “look at this dumb kid” and the people they showed it to do the same, and suddenly that one dumb thing a kid said is an inalienable trait of “kids these days” because everyone’s seen that video. There’s a video that breaks down the point I’m trying to make here nicely, so I’ll just leave the link here:

And then you have the media zeitgeist showing all these young people being narcissistic and so that’s what and how they market towards them, which only increases that perception. I’ve also seen mentions that a lot of the younger generational complaints that get published come from the incredibly wealthy complaining about their entitled children - since they have the broadcast capability, they’re the voices that get heard, and so on.

As far as the generational exposure of past injustices, those devices have actually been accelerating that, not hindering it - corruption is now caught on video by every single bystander, every big company out there has been called out. I’ve seen complaints on both side - the new generations are simultaneously too lazy/complacent and too uppity/discontent. It’s honestly both hilarious and exhausting dwelling under that label. Some times you just have to sit back with a nice can of Soup for My Family and watch a relaxing episode of Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself.

My standard response to that would get me banned.

Ha ha, I embrace the Boomer.

It will allow me to say “I told you so”
Probably sooner rather than later.

Now get off my lawn!


I’m the last of the Boomers and very proud of it. Our generation did some wonderful and amazing things. If people have problems with “boomers” it’s usually a certain person that is just being an a$$hat and also happens to be a Baby Boomer.
… And last I checked every generation has a$$hats.

I consider my self a pretty up to date human and fairly tech savvy and extremely compassionate about those struggling around me for whatever reason. I don’t live in my own little bubble and expect everyone else to conform. I don’t want anything to do with a lot of social apps out there. Not because I’m too old … because I’m too smart. I could care less about Grinder, WhatsApp, SnapChat etc. I do frequent FB and Instagram. That’s about it. Since we are being put in categories … I’m not sure where I would fit. Because my visits consist of sipping my tea, scrolling and clicking a like here and there and calling a lot of people “Dumbasses”


I’m not sure where I was going with all that … something about “Likes” and then the “Boomer” comment “triggered” me LOL :stuck_out_tongue: :rofl:

Has generational narcissism ever not existed?

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