Narcissism


my-parents-my-self
Originally uploaded by Daoist56.

I’ve got it – I am guilty. After all, I have a blog, do I not?
But then . . . “Back in the day,” when the internet was first opening up, many of us were excited about the possibility it offered to make an end-run around the bottle neck of increasingly fewer publishing houses. It was to be an “all publishing to all” medium, specifically not relying on the editorial or aesthetic whims of a few individual editors.
So, is writing a blog any more narcissistic than writing an autobiography? Or a comic based on one’s family? Or even a work of fiction, which inevitably is a well-heeled statement of, “how I think?”
Well, yes and no I suppose. Nothing glamourizes like the TV screen, and seeing your own creation, complete with all the details of your cat, dog and hamster, your preferences in music, literature and movies, even your astological sign, favorite food and long lists of other boring minutiae can lead us to think that somehow all that drivel is important. Adding to this sentiment is the fact that web pages are meant to be magnets – people are supposed to come and visit, presumably because they find you, or at least this semi-fictional list of your attributes, so compelling.
So yeah, maybe an editor would be a good idea. Not as in the days of yore (i.e., the Reagan drought) with its own brand of insufferable narcissism, but perhaps that most important editor of all – the inner.
This, of course, leads us to the more basic and potent need for individuals in our society to learn some restraint – especially when it comes to the “validation” of our emotions. Of course, capitalism itself has a vested interest in this – after all, endless consumption is not a particularly happy bedfellow with restraint, self-control and self-discipline.
I am moved to write all of this after reading Dahlia Lithwick’s article called “Blog of A Death Foretold” in today’s Washington Post. It seems like another tip of what’s been a growing iceberg (at least one that I’m finding myself exposed to) against the narcissism of blogs. But on the contrary, I think the popularity of places like MySpace and FaceBook have been invaluable in surfacing the much deeper illness. Rather than blame the symptoms, perhaps we ought to be focusing on the underlying diseases.

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