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The Effectiveness of the Rhetorical Devices Used in “Gen Y’s Ego Trip Takes a Bad Turn”

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Larry Gordon and Louis Sahagun’s article, “Gen Y’s Ego Trip Takes a Bad Turn,” (Feb. 7, 2007, LA Times) effectively argues to expose the narcissistic tendencies of Generation Y by quoting various studies, analyzing cultural predictions, and taking account of contemporaries’ opinions. Because the generation that is classified as “Y” is around college age, many of the studies used in this article to endorse the authors’ claim were based on college students. These studies were completed by researchers who were tied to a college community. The points are all proven to be valid based on common ethics shared by anyone who is concerned with this generation or the future of the global community. The authors include the originations and possible theories implemented in the upbringing of Generation Y to create the demeanor of the generation. They do this in attempts of understanding the reasons for the exaggerated view of self that plagues Generation Y.

The alarming amount of narcissism among Generation Y has led to studies completed by various institutions. The universities of San Diego State, Michigan, Georgia, and South Alabama concluded that “almost two-thirds of recent college students had narcissism scores that were above the average 1982 score” (p. 93). Additionally, they concluded that narcissism in college students has risen thirty percent since 1982. An informal survey completed at Cal State Long Beach came to a similar conclusion by surveying professors and students who said they too saw inflated egos and other tendencies that accompany narcissism. Gordon and Sahagun effectively produce a level of creditability with the reader by quoting many scholars who speak with authority on the narcissism of Generation Y. This is important, because it allows for this article and the ideas stated to be understood and contemplated without questioning the truth behind what is being presented. The ability of the author to lead the audience to the conclusion of their claim through logic imposed by statistics, depict the rhetorical analytic device of logos.

After presenting substantial evidence relating to the authors’ claim, the authors predict what will occur in the future as a result of narcissism among a generation. One of the many concerns discussed by the author intended t bring fear to the audience, is the fact that “people with an inflated sense of self tend to have less interest in emotionally intimate bonds and can lash out when rejected or insulted” (p. 93). This creates an emotion reaction because it implies that people will not have as much compassion or interest in the well being of others. As a result, on a large scale, the audience realizes there will be less charities and fewer people in need will be helped. Furthermore, it suggests to the reader, that on a daily basis, people will be less courteous or mindful of others feelings or beliefs. When the audience realizes that a population filled with inhabitants who are not polite to one another, and are also extremely sensitive to criticism, the combination of the two would be volatile, and even worse, Generation Y will teach their children their same values.

It is interesting that this generation has become vain considering the many natural disasters and that they’ve experience or have been able to learn about as a result of modern technology. A recent survey completed at UCLA “found growing interest in public service and social responsibly... [It] also showed that current freshmen are much more interested in financial success” (p. 94). The use of foreseeing a future where narcissism is ramped effects the argument by causing the audience to worry for the future. Because the studies presented in the article were completed in the United States, it causes the audience to question how the demeanor of this generation will effect the global community. The United States is know for both generosity and arrogance, and as a result of this generation, it’s likely that Americans will be known purely for arrogance. The audience may also be concerned with will happen to others who rely on the generosity and abundant charities the United States contains. Because this article only quotes studies run in the United States, another viable question the reader will ask is if the increased amount of narcissism is based solely in the United States. This use of pathos is extremely important because is uses the audiences’ fear of the worst possible future to demonstrate the implications of having a narcissists generation.

Gordon and Sahagun establish their authority and credibility in the first sentence by referencing Youtube; they later discuss Myspace. Both of these websites promote and demonstrate the vanity that Generation Y contains. When the audience reads this article, they may question the authors’ abilities to connect or understand Generation Y and the culture in which they live. By showing they are well versed in modern pop culture, the authors credibility is established from the beginning of the article. Throughout the piece, Gordon and Sahagun incorporate the opinions of accredited individuals to endorse their views as well as show alternate ideas. The balance allowed for the reader to see multiple aspects of the argument while the emphasis still remains with the authors’ claims. This use of ethos is imperative to persuade the audience. Because the article is important and contains pertinent information, it was necessary for the authors to establish their credibility very early in the article so the audience isn’t questioning their claim rather than comprehending the information presented.

There are several theories and ideas presented in Gordon and Sahagun’s article explaining the origination of Generation Y’s notorious behavior. A combination of many influences including American culture, reality television shows, and lax parenting have contributed to a exaggerated sense of self. Many schools adopted self esteem programs 20 years ago. These programs taught young children to think they were extremely special and should direct attention towards themselves. This is currently reinforced by social networking websites such as Facebook, Myspace, and Youtube. While it’s proven that more members of Generation Y complete community service, it is also true that many schools require community service, and in order to create a competitive resume, many community service projects must be cited.

The authors include contradicting opinions to demonstrate an adverse view. One of these views was given by Marc Flacks who is an assistant professor of Psychology. Marc Flacks believes that narcissism is too strong of a word to describe Generation Y, because people of this generation have been taught that having narcissistic tendencies is positive. While this is true, the authors of this article use Flacks’ opinion to further demonstrate the potential outcomes of a community where narcissism is needed to survive. The authors do not comment on Flacks’ opinion because it causes the reader to have to analyze this reality and decide what it means for the future.

Gordon and Shagun create an extremely persuasive article through their use of rhetorical analytic devices. The use of studies, quotes, and accredited opinions of several Psychologists to support their claim throughout the article allowed for the reader to accept and trust the authors and the facts they presented. This is important because the article effects the rising generations of the United States who will most likely contain future world leaders.





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