You can't help but be struck by how credulous young people are today. No single instances come to mind for me to showcase as examples, but taking so much of what they read at face value, and not questioning the reliability of sources.
In particular, within the naturalistic / mundane / profane / materialistic realm of things -- I'm not talking about belief in things that we can't investigate so easily, such as Santa Claus or the nature or existence of God. And also not narratives that are part of oral tale-telling -- they don't do that anymore either. Factoids, party line talking points, things like that are what I have in mind. Not necessarily ideological either; I'm amazed by what kinds of shit you can make up to little kids today and they'll believe it right away (not that I have, but I hear stories about my nephew, or about people's kids who grew up in the '90s).
Like buying into Citizen Kane and Sgt. Pepper's as among the greatest movies and albums just because some authority figure told them so, when both are mediocre though not unlikable. Zipping over to Wikipedia and being 90% certain that they've heard the final word on whatever they're looking up. They read something on Slate or the HuffPo, and no mass media outlet would lie or distort the picture, would they? How ironic for a generation that considers themselves to be sophisticated skeptics.
So, that interacts with their glib, superficial, spastic tendencies as well, but there's another part that is credulity, gullibility, and naivete.
I think this stems from being cut off from non-family members when they were growing up in the '90s and 2000s. Hamilton's Rule says you should believe your close kin a lot more than genetic strangers, because they have far less to gain by lying to you. Your loss is partly their loss, too, after all.
Only by being raised by peers and unrelated adults -- by the broader community -- does a growing child learn, often the hard way (the only way), to take things that others say with a grain of salt. Does anyone who was a kid in the '60s, '70s, or '80s remember how often you used to flat-out deny whatever your friends were claiming. Oh yeah right! Nuh-uhhh, nuh-uhhh! Psssh, please!
You weren't so confrontational toward unrelated adults who told you things, but you still learned that from all kinds of different opinions that you were exposed to, there was apparently some honest disagreement, so don't just swallow what any particular one of them tried to feed you. And on the other hand, if they all seemed to say the same thing, that was robust independent confirmation -- for example, that "life isn't always fair." (Damn right. Something Millennials never learned...)
My guess is that since the '90s the only steady, reliable source of this stimulation to growth has come from sibling rivalry. Again, even that is pretty weak, given Hamilton's Rule. No substitute for interacting with a broad range of others, and learning from those experiences. Male and female, young and old, poor and rich, outcast and popular. We actually learned quite a bit about what makes people tick back in the good old days.
These dynamics probably also explain the similar traits of the Silent Generation when they were young in the mid-century, the previous heyday of helicopter parenting and social isolation. I'm not sure whether they also had the glib, superficial, bratty thing going on too -- I'd have to check into it to see what people said about young people back then. My vague impression is that while they were credulous and naive, they weren't so glib and dismissive. That may be more related to trends in economic inequality, which would create more individual vs. individual antagonism, all else being equal.
That's one major thing to keep in mind that I don't think I've stressed before -- that because economic cycles and social-cultural cycles are distinct, you don't always see the exact same picture across all rising-crime or falling-crime periods, even though the trend in the crime rate is the stronger force. I'd say the Millennial era is actually closer to the Gilded Age -- falling crime and violence after the American Gothic / Civil War period, but also plagued by widening inequality, Robber Barons, rampant immigration, and so on. People did seem a lot more snarky and show-off-y back then, compared to the mid-20th century.
And of the two dominant revival styles today, I'd say overall the neo-Victorian one is stronger than the neo-Fifties one. Especially with how dark, drab, and covered-up everyone is today, across all demographic groups. Anyway, I'm getting into another post here, but I may come back to this topic soon.