Many older readers have e-mailed me, asking me to write an article exploring what has gone wrong with the younger generation. This is a complex question, and many traditional media outlets have written ad nauseum about the break up of the American family and the abuse of both alcohol or drugs. Yet, not a single media outlet has mentioned what is really destroying this nation, and that is that there are just too many Psych majors.
Such a statement might seem shocking at first, but Psych majors are at the heart of much that is wrong with young adults today. Psychology programs are big money makers for colleges, as they are cheap to produce and can attract idealistic, white, elitist, middle-class high school graduates (along with their parent's tuition money) who come to University knowing nothing of the real world or what they want to do aside from not wanting to take math. They are drawn into taking huge intro to psychology classes, where they learn that through grade inflation and minimal work, they are able to obtain the easiest 'A' in their lives. Encouraged by this, they continue to spend their parent's money on a degree in which they study theories such as behaviorism, social learning theory, and Freudian psychoanalysis. This leads to a feeling of superiority over their fellow students who weren't afraid of taking math classes.
The following four years are filled with partying, drinking, micro-waving gourmet food, listening to National Public Radio, good sex, and experimenting with marijuana and the knowledge that by coming to grips with their oedipal complexes and convincing themselves that the only challenge in life is not to make money, but to become self actualized. These students find that they have a lot of time on their hands. Believing that the combination of maximum grades and minimal work is the result of enlightenment (or what the non-enlightened would call grade inflation). Funded by their parents bourgeois life style and delayed pain of long term education loans, they are above the earthly responsibilities of earning a living. Suddenly, mastering Tetris is no longer fulfilling. They feel that they must give back to the unfortunate, uneducated, and unenlightened working class stiffs. This high mindedness mixed with boredom is a dangerous combination, because instead of volunteering at a soup kitchen, many end up volunteering to tell the unenlightened what to do. They are riled up by stories their parents told them of the 1960's, where students heroically and inspirationally fought and won for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Yet, they have to look hard for a cause that arouses such passion in today's world. Whereas the 1960's saw visions of black only bathrooms and cohorts being gunned down in Vietnam, the 1990's saw nothing of the sort.
These idealistic young people are taken in by the industry of professional protestors. Too few times do legitimate issues such as global warming arouse passion, probably because such complex issues are very difficult to articulate to those who have a short attention span and are math-phobic. Too often, they are fired up by issues in which they don't really understand, yet makes them feel like they are battling for the underdog. Such issues that fall under this are helping the Chiapas in Mexico, the free Tibet movement, or supporting the Palestinians against Israeli occupation. These organizations have done a wonderful job using the internet to market support, and are good at organizing rallies that are fun to go to. Even the loudest supporters who enjoy meeting people and hanging out at rallies couldn't find the State of Chiapas on a map; think that Tibet was a democracy taken over by Red China; and are lost in the details of a Palestinian-Israeli conflict that are 5,000 years in the making. Whereas they faithfully attend rallies that have more in common with carnivals or rock concerts than political protests, they do not take this same passion to the voting booths. They also do not choose their issues very carefully. Whereas college students know more about the benefits of legalizing marijuana and expanding school loans than the rest of America, strangely these are issues that do not elicit the excitement that Israeli tanks shooting at terrorists. They were quick to march against US action in Gulf War I & II, yet Saddam's invasion of Kuwait nor his massacre of 100,000 Shiites could not hold their attention.
The day after Graduation is a sad day for many of these people who find that they are just not good enough to get into a clinical Psych graduate program. They find that the time they should have been dedicating to internships and networking interfered too much with their sorority and fraternity duties. Suddenly, they are shocked at how job interviewers are not impressed by their senior project of teaching a rat to run through a maze, and that these four (and for some unfortunate five) years of learning have taught them nothing about the real world.
It is at this time that they learn something that they haven't learned in four years in college: that student loans actually cost money when you pay them back. They learn that the conformist, anal-retentive accounting students, whom they have spent four years looking down upon are now making four times as much as they are. These people soon will find out that the guy (or girl) in their high school shop class has actually spent two years studying a useful vocation like being an electrician or mechanic has just bought a really nice house in their old neighborhood and drives a really nice car. These Psych majors feel that they are above spite, so they drown their sorrows away in generic chain coffee and bagel shops; bury themselves in their study of yoga; or shop away their problems by maxing out their credit cards like it was as real as monopoly money; or seeking solace by abusing substances such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Ritalin.
By the time of their first High School reunion, they experience their quarter life crisis. Some choose to work for nonprofits for a while, others brave their luck in cities such as Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Finally, they make a major change in their life. Some jumped into the gold rush revolving around the internet boom, which led to the publicized boom and later bust. A good many others went to law school, where today they spent most of their time chasing ambulances and blaming health care, cigarette, and alcohol companies for everything bad that happens. Many others become journalists, who have no background knowledge of what they write about. As a result, they quickly give in to a 'flock' mentality, where they are too burnt out and lack the curiosity to actually look anything beyond the headline of a story.
Psychology continues to be the most studied major on many college campuses throughout this nation. Yet, we must not forget that there are many other Liberal Arts majors, like Sociology and Anthropology, that have also corrupted our middle class youth into studying that which will not get them anywhere. The main stream media can concentrate all it wants on children born out of wedlock and the effects of drug and violence on our children. But, they continue to ignore the problems facing the children who are fortunate to have come from wealthy two parent families.