Dear Winston, fourth editionThursday, March 29th, 2007
I keep reading stuff about how narcissistic we have become, especially young people. Things like Myspace, Facebook and YouTube (and commentators at blogs) are always cited as examples of this dangerous phenomenon that threatens the very foundations of society. It seems to me that these things are symptomatic of the opposite - a craving for connection, commonality and community. What do you think?
Curious in New Mexico — where the chilies are hot and the women are hotter
(This is a reader submitted letter taken from the comments.)
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What I find to be particularly absurd is how often these expressions of grief about the Internet’s alleged adverse impact on the purity of America’s soul come from major media pundits — you know, the folks who so love to look down their often very long (in the Pinocchio sense) noses at bloggers and other “new media” commentators for their alleged narcissism: Seriously, do these folks not own mirrors?
Take a look at this definition: Narcissism: Excessive love or admiration of oneself.
Now, ask yourself to whom this applies more: A teenage girl who likes to post links to her favorite musicians and actors on her personal webpage or, say, Christopher Hitchens, Chris Matthews or Howard Kurtz?
Not a particularly tough call is it?
Let’s just take the case of Hitch the Snitch, the former “liberal” columnist for The Nation turned neoconservative-warmonger: Here’s a man who literally perspires arrogance (or is it Johnnie Walker Black?), this despite having been wrong just about every time he’s opened his mouth in recent years, especially on the subject of Iraq. The same can be said (except maybe for the Johnnie Walker Black part), of course, for pretty much the entire editorial staff of the Washington Post and most of the rest of the DC punditry.
I must confess to harboring a secret wish that one day the density of the combined narcissism of these professional gasbags will become so great that it will curve in upon itself producing a singularity — a black hole whose gravitational pull will be so strong that not even Bill O’Reilly’s ego can escape.
Besides, if blogging and otherwise posting on the Internet is narcissistic, doesn’t the same conclusion naturally follow for all other forms of writing?
In terms of the human motivation at play — which, of course, is what we’re concerned with in discussing narcissism — there’s really no difference between John Updike penning a Pulitzer Prize winner and Jake the used car salesman down the street pecking away at his PC preparing a post for his sports blog that’s been visited a grand total of 17 times (it was his mother, but even she lost interest eventually). Both are writers. Both are spewing their souls into the great meat grinder of public judgment — even if the most common judgment returned for the Jake’s of the world is simply that of being ignored.