We are not the greatest generation, nor will we ever be.

Time after time, the older generations criticize the younger generations. Sometimes, we all fail to realize that things change, and just because the younger generation is different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong, bad or incapable.

A recent study argues that our college-aged generation is more vain than any before it. The comprehensive study was performed by five psychologists who examined the responses of 16,475 college students nationwide who completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006. The new study found college students to be more narcissistic and self-centered than the previous generation, as reported by CNN. The psychologists said they worry the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

But here’s our problem: There’s a difference between being vain and being self-centered. Our generation walks a fine line between being self-centered and being an individual. It’s hard to be one without a little bit of the other.

The professor conducting the study, Jean Twenge of San Diego State University, said people need to stop telling their kids they are special. Ha! It took a long time for parents to catch on to building up a child’s self-esteem, there’s no way anyone’s going to let go of that any time soon. Everyone likes to hear they’re special and wouldn’t it be just creepy if 7-year-olds walked around saying “I’m not special?”

At a time where very few of us aren’t constantly logging onto Facebook and MySpace, it’s easy to see how we could become so vain and why our predecessors could see it that way. It’s obvious that people out there take the time to perfect the ideal Facebook profile picture. Social networking sites train us to like to look at ourselves and other people and pass judgment. It’s not nice, but it’s how it is.

Sites such as YouTube have a similar presence. But it also points to the fact that we like to sometimes look at others and not just ourselves. People would not log on to YouTube as much if they just saw themselves.

People continue to point to our apathy as a sign of our vanity. This week was the four-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. This war is one that could have easily been met with numerous protests, but it has continued on with very few rallying for peace. This is our generation’s Vietnam, minus an important aspect that helped define the time: anti-war protests. Yes, we are self-centered because so few care to voice concern for those who are fighting. But our tone would change if it became our butts on the line and we didn’t have a choice.

The life of today’s college student is incredibly different from years past. Many of us have to work full-time, 40-hour-a-week jobs just to pay for school. While it might seem like an excuse, it’s hard to do all of that and find time to go march in a protest.

So we might be a little vain, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. These types of studies are unfair for the most part because how can someone truly measure vanity? Even though older generations would probably see this as a problem, we just see it as a major difference separating us and other generations.

The above editorial is the general consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.