I’d like to quote something from a recent article on the “narcissism epidemic” or “Generation Me” at the Chronicle of Higher Education:
The social sciences have too often jumped in feet first, raising unnecessary panics over video games, “fad” mental illnesses, and “crises” of sexual assault. I’ll acknowledge that it’s probably difficult to sell a book or get a government grant arguing that something isn’t a big problem, yet it is time for the social sciences to carefully consider the chasm that too often exists between the data that they produce and the claims they make to the scientific community and general public. Words such as “epidemic” should only ever be preceded by words like “smallpox,” and should henceforth be stricken from the social scientist’s lingo. (â€¦)
The evidence just isn’t there for an epidemic of narcissism or anything else. Social scientists would do well to exercise a degree of caution when interpreting data. Just like with the little boy who cries wolf, people are bound to notice too many phantom epidemics. The price to be paid is the credibility of social science itself.
Of course I was thinking “video games” (and “comic books”) before I even got to the part of the article where the author mentions this. (Little did I know while reading this that the author, an associate professor of psychology at Texas A&M, has already written about his take on game “violence” in particular.) I recommend the article for all academics who will wring their hands over the next big cultural boogeyman, and to all professors who lament the moral fiber of “kids today.”
(And as an added side note: As someone who was bullied and played dodgeball as a kid, I’m a little offended by the commenter who calls dodgeball a “particularly horrific game (in which authority figures actually encourage normal kids to act like bullies).” Maybe the bullies were different in this person’s neighborhood, but where I grew up, bullies beat you up, up-close and personal, and did not invite you to play a game of dodgeball with them.)