I Wanna Talk About Me

I just did some research on narcissism which is why I have not blogged in a while. Studies show that since the 1970s narcissistic traits have increased in the American culture. More and more young adults feel an unearned sense of entitlement focused on how “wonderful” they are. Conversation focuses on the individual and not on external people. Our goals become the only ones that matter. There is no sense of common purpose or common drives. These narcissistic traits are enhanced by our social media and social networking. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. give a platform for people to create an image for themselves and people get to decide what projection of themselves is created online. This means that people create the best image of themselves, allows the creator to over-inflate self-worth, and there is no one to hold them accountable. The individual can then engage in hundreds of shallow relationships with people they have never met; people who can never say that person is not what they pretend to be.

After researching this for a few days, I started to balk at the thought of blogging. I am using this blog as a way to feed my ego. Every day I check my site stats. I need people to read my blog. I need the validation I feel when people comment on my posts. It makes me feel good when my site stats reach a new record.

And that wasn’t my intent. My intent was to talk about what I think and feel. Add my few thoughts to the world and maybe connect with some people. But how did I think I could achieve this on a blog where much of my readership is unknown to me? And I am not talking about anything relevant. I started talking about politics and philosophy and my dreams. Now I just tell mundane stories about my life. I even, at one point, had a page called “quotes by people better than I” but couldn’t come up with anything. I mean, sure, I could have googled quotes, but they would not have meaning and depth if I understood them. If I had read the quote in context and digested the meaning. So I deleted the one altruistic page I had.

So now I am in a pickle. I love writing. I love blogging. But the self-feeding narcissism is making me self-conscious. I get that some self-love and self-inflation is needed to maintain a healthy level of self-esteem, but at what point does it become narcissistic? And maybe all my self-reflection is just another form of narcissism (hypervigilant narcissism if you must know).

Feedback? (I need some self-inflation)

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11 thoughts on “I Wanna Talk About Me

  1. I like reading your blog. It makes me feel connected even if it has nothing to do with me or even anyone or anything that I know anything about (besides you). That’s part of why I blog to, to share my life with others and feel connected, especially since I assume that most people who read my blog are related to me. It might be narcissistic but it’s also a good way to stay connected with people who you do actually know but don’t always have time to connect with face-to-face or even on the phone as much as you’d like. Plus sometimes it’s just fun to write about stuff.

  2. Frankly, I think that crap about narcissism that you were taught is just an older generation’s sour grapes about a younger generation’s advancement. I feel more connected to people when they blog, or comment on my blog, or post pictures on facebook, or tweet a funny thought. Doing those things makes us more communal, not more self-obsessed. I have friends who I never would have met if not for blogging. I am genuinely interested in their lives and their thoughts and their responses to my thoughts. I have changed my position on philosophical or political issues in response to other people’s comments. That’s less narcissism, not more.

    The claim that defining yourself online is a narcissistic ignores that people have defined themselves since the beginning of time. Whether they did so through letters or their clothes or political activity or bumper stickers or in-person in their community; people have always projected an image of themselves towards others, have always tried to define themselves, have always over-inflated their self, have always loved to have their ego stroked. This is nothing new. No, I think human nature is exactly as narcissistic as it’s ever been, and just as invested in others as it has ever been. Human nature doesn’t change because the technology changes.

    If anything, I think the technology has made it easier to engage with others. Those are real engagements and interactions, no matter who says boo to them. We’re having a real conversation here. You expressed a real issue and were trying to work through it. I’m giving you my honest opinion and trying to help you resolve your questions and concerns. That’s not narcissism.

    That’s just life.

  3. I just really like reading about what everyone is doing, thinking about, and so on. Maybe I’m just nosey. I started to blog because I figured that if I enjoyed keeping up with other peoples’ lives via blogging then they might like reading about my life, too. It doesn’t matter if it’s something big, like Gina’s biking incident, or something small, like Charlotte not liking bananas; I just like to know what’s happening. So keep blogging!

  4. Matt: I don’t think it is an older’s generations “sour grapes”. These studies have been conducted since the 1970s. Also, I am not attacking any one individual directly. I think it is one thing to know a person before you blog or facebook and they comment. Then it is a continuation of relationship. There are a lot of people, in general, who do use these social networking sites to create a false image of themselves, a place where no one can critique them. Obviously your blogs and ideas bring in a lot of discussion and you learn from them. Clearly, I am not talking about you. But, as technology changes, so does human behavior. Not just an increase in narcissistic traits, but also a continual disengagement from immediate society (how many people know their neighbors in their apartment complex now? or even in their neighborhood?). Human nature evolves as humanity evolves. Obviously not at dramatic intervals, but human nature is not stagnant.

  5. “There are a lot of people, in general, who do use these social networking sites to create a false image of themselves, a place where no one can critique them.”

    What the heck are you talking about? To quote Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back “That’s what the internet is for: slandering others anonymously.” No one is above critique on the internet. Even the most well respect journalists have comments sections following their articles where trolls launch comments. There is no safe harbor online. Putting yourself online is just as likely to result in bashing as it is ego stroking.

    I think these “studies” are B.S. People – human nature – hasn’t changed since the ’70’s. Human nature might “evolve” ever so slightly, as humans evolve, ever so slightly, but that’s going to be imperceptible changes over millenia. I say we bring Emily in on this question. Human nature is human nature is human nature. People are just as narcissistic or non-narcissistic as they’ve always been. I mean, c’mon, the very word “narcissism” comes from the ancient Greek parable of Narcissus. Narcissism was such a problem in ancient Greece that they had to come up with an entire mythological story to combat the problem. To quote The Muppets Take Manhattan, “People is people.”

    “But, as technology changes, so does human behavior. Not just an increase in narcissistic traits, but also a continual disengagement from immediate society (how many people know their neighbors in their apartment complex now? or even in their neighborhood?)”

    First off, your definition of “immediate society” is contrived. You don’t mean “immediate society” you mean “society that is physically proximate”. Because the words “immediate” and “society” don’t imply physicality. As our technology improves, our “immediate society” widens. The automobile transformed “immediate society” from being small little hamlets to much wider towns and cities. Every major technological advance that eased communication altered “immediate society” in major ways. I consider the people I’ve met online – this is, I didn’t know them before – to be a part of my “immediate society.” Why wouldn’t they be?

    Why is it better for me to know my neighbors than for me to know my friend Ben in Atlanta? I’m not opposed to me knowing my neighbors (for example, I know that one of them is being induced tomorrow and we’re planning on baking for them as they adjust to life with a new baby), but I don’t see any reason why it is better for me to know them than it is for me to know Ben in Atlanta. You’re lamenting the loss of knowing some people (which, I don’t concede the point, I don’t think people know fewer of their neighbors than they ever did – I think it’s roughly the same as it’s always been. Look at Gina, for example, and how close they’ve become with neighbors.) but not celebrating the ability to get to know others.

    And finally, I certainly don’t see the correlation between “using the internet to communicate your ideas, your likes, your projection of yourself” and narcissism. Like I said before, people have always projected a version of themselves that they want others to appreciate. People have always had over-inflated values of self worth.
    That’s human nature. Nothing different happening now than has ever happened before. I think you’re idealizing a false past. People in the 70’s and 80’s were just as self centered as people are now. People talked about themselves and their own interests, not “external people” back then too. People aren’t more interested in self than they’ve ever been.

  6. I do tend to agree that (fallen) human nature is selfish/self-involved…you could argue it from a philosophical or theological perspective but theologically speaking with sin, people are unfortunately going to often be narcissistic. It’s the product of the Fall.

    That being said, there are some things different happening now…there is a lot more communication, and in some ways it has become much less personal. Yes, you can get ideas out there and critique others and whatnot, but most of the social networking communication is very superficial. That might be part of what Maria is trying to get at. Not all of it is, especially when it comes to serious blogging or people who are already friends/family trying to stay connected, but a lot of it is. I think part of Maria’s point may be that people use the internet and technology to put themselves out there more often; there are more people doing so than in the past, when not a lot of people had the means to communicate about themselves to a wide audience. It used to just be people in close (physical) proximity or with the education and/or ability to produce their ideas and thoughts on a larger scale. I’m not necessarily saying getting to know your neighbors is better than being friends with someone far away, just that people’s circles are wider and they can communicate more about themselves, faster, which may at least appear narcissistic because you are sharing more about yourself than was possible before. However, I think as long as people are still interested in actual relationships and deeper communication we can avoid that level of narcissism. I do think there is something to be said for live interaction. What’s the point of only maintaining relationships with people you never see? To some degree it is a little superficial. Life is about living in community with others, and you don’t get the full meaning of that through technology.

  7. I think you are just trying to be offended. Societies evolve. The rules of society change. During the Great Depression and the World Wars, I am betting the priority was not “me”. How about how the women’s movement have change women’s roles in society. Women went from, essentially, servants to equal participants in society. Maybe the amount of narcissism has not changed, but our allowance of narcissistic traits change. We reward people now for self-promoting. A study done in the 1990s at a college campus showed that 90% of the students felt that if they showed up to every class they deserved a B. Just based on attendance– not having to work for their grade at all, just showing up.
    Anyway, my point was that social media is a great place for Narcissism to breed. And I am not saying people won’t critize. Blogs are difference than Twitter or Facebook, but even with blogs there is a lot of ego inflation. People with Narcissistic traits do not take in criticism: it is too ego dystonic for them. Instead they look at the number of people who read their blog, notice that people comment, and just believe that people care about them and think what they have to say is important. Additionally, there are not a lot of people on Facebook critizing publicly (they may send a message but they aren’t just putting it on the wall for everyone to see).
    Case in point: if people stopped reading my blog, I would stop writing. There is no point for me to write on a blog if no one reads it. I keep a journal. I don’t need to blog.
    Also, by immediate, I mean PRIMARY relationships: Relationships that have multifaceted levels. We live in a world based on secondary relationships which view only one or two aspects of a person. And to counter your “look at Gina point” it could be argued that she lives in a lifestyle enclave where people do not connect on anything deep: they don’t share faith, politics, or ideal but, because they live in the same community and enjoy the same standard of living, they feel like they have to get along and create a false closeness. Look at Mom and Dad: when we were little we knew all our neighbors and had people over all the time. Now, as people have come and gone, it is less common for us to know who lives around us.
    Don’t worry I am probably going to call you later to argue this with you.

  8. Okay so a few things go through my mind when reading (skimming) over some of the comments. First, Maria you have a healthy level of narcissism surrounding your personality. As we were speaking about today, there are certain characteristics that come into play; sense of humor being one that i know you possess. Having a blog can be seen in many different ways, and I have never thought that it was a vehicle to make yourself grandiose to the world. People who blog have something to say that they feel should be shared with the world. The internet is a way of connecting people to one another that would not otherwise be connected.

    People have used the internet in an abusive way and, i would not say that some of these people are definite narcissist! However, as stated by someone (I believe your brother), it is good for me to engage in FB connections i.e. friends out of state. Does it make me narcissistic to post updated pictures of myself so that my family can see how I am doing? or To post my feelings about what is going on with me, good or bad, on a regular basis? i would think not.

    here is the bottom line: The internet social sites, blogs, and all other ways to advertise yourself, should not be an indicator of who you are. what people say about you, good or bad, should be of none affect if you know who you are. Making decisions to participate or not in the world of internet social interaction is a personal choice. yes we have become less sociable with our neighbors; could this be because the world has gone mad and there are more murderers and rapist running around free? Could it be that we have lost a trust in the goodness of human nature and people have become mean and afraid of each other. The world became a very different place after 9/11 and i think that the safeness of computers, as opposed to face-to-face contact could be the reason we don’t know our neighbors. People have definitely changed over the years, however I don’t believe it is because of an increased sense of self-importance.

    And Narcissism is NOT bull-crap, it exist and we all have some level of it. (self-psychology view) :^)!

  9. My point isn’t that people aren’t narcissistic. Like Emily points out, human nature is fallen and selfish. My point is just that this is nothing new. People had superficial relationships before Facebook. They still have deep relationships now. My point is just that there is nothing different about now than there was before. So kids in the 90’s thought they should get B’s for just showing up? That’s not narcissism, that lax academic standards. How do you measure narcissism? There’s no meaningful criteria. Instead, I say we just look at human nature and ask ourselves if human nature has changed. I don’t think it has. I think there has been narcissism for as long as there have been people.

  10. My only point in posting this is that these networking media sites encourage narcissism in people who are already predisposed to it. Our society has also created an acceptance of narcissism which means that people are reporting narcissistic traits more frequently and with less shame. The stigma around narcissism has decrease.

    And Matt, there is meaningful criteria. Don’t tell someone studying to be a clinician that there is no meaningful criteria for a personality disorder. There is actually a developmental line of narcissism: 1914, 1917, 1923, and 1980 were the four major dates that psychological narcissism developed. So perhaps we are talking about two different ideas. Your idea of narcissism does not have the same base that my idea of narcissism has. I also think it is a little closed minded and ignorant not to explore the possibility that social media feeds narcissistic personalities. That’s like saying alcohol does not contribute to alcoholism. There are triggers for everything. Some people are more predisposed to narcissistic traits and social media can push them in that direction.

    I never said ALL people. I just said that there is an increase of narcissistic TRAITS in self reporting and studies of social media find high rates of narcissistic TRAITS among users.

    1. “Our society has also created an acceptance of narcissism which means that people are reporting narcissistic traits more frequently and with less shame. The stigma around narcissism has decreased.”

      Ok, so then that’s all you can prove. You can’t say narcissism has increased, only self-reporting thereof. Heck, I’m gonna go ahead and make the argument that narcissism has stayed exactly where it’s always been, we’ve just seen an increase in honesty. These studies indicate that society is way better off now than it used to be.

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