Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

An occasional outburst of witchhunting is a small price to pay…

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I’m not normally a fan of The Atlantic. Other than Ta-Nehisi Coates, their political writers all bore or annoy me. In almost every way I think Harper’s is better. But there was an excellent article this month about the psychological and cultural effects of long-term unemployment (short version: we’re all going to become bitter hollow shells of humans). In the process of explaining the pending destruction of all our psychological and cultural well-being, the author has a short diversion in which he profiles our generation and points out that:

“Self-esteem without basis encourages laziness rather than hard work”

As a teacher assistant at an elite private university, let me say yes. Yes it does.

The author claims that the emphasis modern parents place on self-esteem has counter-intuitively retarded the ability of us twenty somethings to deal with adversity and stress. “There’s an element of entitlement” he quotes an expert as saying, “they expect people to figure things out for them.” And since we’re raised to think how great we are, we’re especially unprepared for unemployment and insecurity.

Which is why all you parents out there should take a lesson from the 17th century Puritans. Children are clearly sinful demon-beasts who need to be reduced to states of total obedience, everyday reminded of their complete depravity. As President Wadsworth of Harvard said of infants, “Their Hearts naturally, are a meer nest, root, fountain of Sin, and wickedness; an evil Treasure from whence proceed evil things.” I assume that’s why they poop so much.

If your kids know you love them, then what incentive do they have to work hard when you hire them out at age 8 to the cordwainer three towns over?

Point is, dear reader, maybe if you had spent less time being told how special you were and being bought ice cream even though you struck out at tee-ball, and more time in an unheated room memorizing Leviticus and being reminded that it was because you misbehaved in church that God sent that smallpox which killed your sister, maybe you’d have that job at Google now. Seriously


Written by Peter Wirzbicki

February 15, 2010 at 16:47

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