Debate: We are self-obsessed Generation

Motion: We are a self obsessed generation

Good evening everyone. My name is Gary Ryan and I am broadcasting live from Donegal in Ireland this evening and tonight our topic is, ‘are we a self obsessed generation?’ So wherever you are tuning in from, whether it’s New York, Mumbai or Paris, I hope you are hearing us loud and clear.

So are we the self obsessed generation that we continually hear about in the media or is it all just the exaggerated ramblings of a jealous older generation?  As much as I would love to lay the blame on the older generation, I am afraid that we have become the generation who has fallen in love with itself.

It is ironic that as we air tonight, millions of people around the world are attending remembrance events for soldiers killed on battlefields across the globe in the two world wars. When you compare the sacrifice of these men to today’s generation, we can clearly see how we have become selfish, self obsessed and narcissistic. Millions of men laid down their lives in a bid to end oppression, fascism and bigotry. Last year, 256 people died trying to get the perfect selfie. If that doesn’t illustrate how far we’ve fallen I don’t know what will.

For our American viewers out there, many of you will remember your former President Dwight Eisenhower. He was a World War two five star general, who led his troops into battle in the most dangerous battlegrounds of Europe. He was hailed a hero for his courage and valour and eventually ended up in the White House as commander-in-chief, a fitting tribute to a brave and noble man. Today in the chair he once sat is the very-embodiment of the self obsessed generation, President Donald Trump. The only battle that Trump has ever fought is the battle against old age, a battle he is very much losing and with little honour or dignity.

The fact that the American people feel that Trump is presidential material says a lot about the current generation. When we compare him to the likes of JFK, FDR and even Obama, we can see how our attitudes and morals have changed so much over the years. What is the cause of this change, I hear you ask. Well for me, the big change is social media, the driving force behind our self-obsession.

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are the three most popular social media platforms across the globe and are used frequently by nearly all teenagers. These sites are based on followers, likes and comments and nowadays, one’s self value and self esteem is predicated on the number of likes you receive each day. This unhealthy culture leads to people taking pictures in ridiculously dangerous places, which can often lead to the deaths I mentioned at the beginning of this broadcast. It has also led to the idea that you must strive for the ‘perfect’ look before posting a photo online. 

The reason that people feel so much pressure to be perfect is our obsessive scrolling on the pages of celebrities or ‘influencers.’ These people have millions of followers and post pictures on a daily basis, where they look absolutely perfect. In reality, these photos have been doctored using photoshop in order to create perfection, but to the impressionable teenager, this is a look that can be achieved, if only they ate less, trained harder or bought the right products. This insecurity is what is driving the self obsessed generation that we have become and to all you viewers out there, I want you to know that this is driven by multi-billion dollar companies.

You’re probably sitting at home right now thinking what is this guy talking about, but the self-obsession is a result of the marketing ploys of big business. Marketing campaigns have always played on our psychological insecurities but in today’s world, they have taken it to the next level.

Companies have realised how much time teenagers spend on the internet and watching TV, so they spend millions targeting you and your insecurities no matter what you are doing. Influencers are paid obscene amounts of money to use products in their videos, which implies that if you buy this product, you’ll look like them. We are constantly being reminded of our flaws and imperfections when we see these images and this causes us to spend more and more money in order to make us feel better about ourselves. They’ve laid a trap and we have willingly jumped into it with no thought for ourselves or anyone else.

Shakespeare once said, “I once cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet.” This type of observation led Shakespeare to  appreciate what he did have, rather than focusing on what he didn’t, but how many of you out there this evening ever contemplate how lucky you are? We seem to have lost our ability to empathise with others, while focusing exclusively on ourselves and I believe that is because of the role models we look up to today. Previous generations had Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa, today’s generation has the Real Housewives of Atlanta. The messages we are sending to the next generation are frightening, we need to take stock and re-evaluate what is important in life. 

As the Amazon burns, does it really matter that your lips aren’t as full as you’d like? While Tsunamis hit the poorest regions in the world, does it matter if your six-pack isn’t as prominent as a professional boxer? While war tears families apart across the globe, is it really necessary for you to have the latest trainers? Let’s just be thankful that when the world needed the heroes that are being remembered around the world today, we had men, women and children who understood that some things are bigger than the individual, that sacrifices had to be made for the greater good and that caring for others is more important than caring for yourself.

Let’s honour the sacrifice of those people by being the generation that turned it around. Let’s be the generation who said ‘stop!’ Let’s be the generation that ditched the social media culture and the narcissism that comes with it. Let’s be the generation that we can be proud of. 


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