Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Musings

The modern Narcissus

Meet The Narcissist. We all know one, or maybe a few hundred thanks to Facebook — the greatest farmhouse for the breed. They are very popular — at least in the short term. A deep-seated desire to be at the centre of things is served by extreme self-confidence, a combination that makes narcissists attractive and even charming.

A hint of sexiness on your profile picture doesn’t hurt either. The Greek myth of Narcissus ends with the beautiful young man lost to the world, content to forever gaze at his own reflection in a pool of water. And the idiot fell into it eventually.

Page 1201Real-life narcissists however, desperately need other people to validate their own worth. It is not so much being liked; it is much more important to be admired. Buoyed by an entourage of admiring friends and associates and protected by the armour of positive self-regard, someone with a mild-to-moderate case of narcissism can float through life feeling pretty good about himself/herself.

He is that friend who amasses a few thousand friends, and receives 80-plus ‘likes’ for posting a picture of a half-eaten apple. #Soawesome. She is that friend who posts self-photos every day, sometimes twice, gets a hundred likes for staring at the camera without laughing and receives the same compliment in forty comments.

If people are ‘hating on’ this side of her, they’re the ones to be blamed. It is not her fault, she needs to preserve her every moment of perfection, and Facebook rubs out any grandiose tendencies she should probably restrain. Then there are the ‘trolls’, who are narcissists themselves but channel it through pointing out others’ propensity for self-love.

That’s the enabling aspect about any virtual space that encourages narcissists — delusions of grandeur, narcissism, viciousness, impulsivity, and infantile behaviour find a ground along with a curtain to hide behind.

Privacy becomes publicity, and the competition with other Facebook friends is the never-ending non-event.  Technology allows for an obsessive documentation, which in these cases empowers the one Facebook-stalked. It is a self-portrait of great importance because it is of seemingly no importance at all.
Some narcissists may have the ability to change into a variety of identities according to the situation. The wounded child inside may choose to present a front as a ‘badass’ and tough individual. He may look, by appearance, to be intimidating and scary to the average person. He could also play the “nice guy/person” whom everyone likes.

A corporate version can be one that is diplomatic, proper, and appearing to care but in reality does not. Another very likeable, extreme narcissist can be the one that chooses the comedian’s role. She is the life of the party and has everyone in stitches, making them laugh constantly. Again, Facebook allows all these costumes to find a platform for peer approval and self-validation.
Unfortunately, narcissists are setting many of the benchmarks for everyday users. Everyday users, especially the younger ones, get caught up in popularity contests and experience anxieties. Some report becoming depressed because they are being out-Twittered and are lacking in ‘thumbs ups’ — what a hard life they must have!

The paradox about narcissism is that we all have this streak of egotism, and a bit of that is supposed to be healthy as well. But being narcissistic is like driving a huge jeep: you’re having a great time, even while you hog the road, suck up extra resources and put other drivers at higher risk.

I wouldn’t care to notice any of that, I’m too busy uploading pictures of what lunch I had while looking grand.