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IzzyAndHerBeans's avatar

How do we eliminate the narcissistic society we've created?

Asked by IzzyAndHerBeans (353 points ) January 24th, 2012

You take pictures of yourself and admire them, right? I do, but I generally don’t flaunt them on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Instead, I get to see my newsfeed get clogged up by people who insist on showing me an image of themselves from every day of the year. How has this happened to our society? Why have we grown into this attention-hungry society where comments are becoming the norm? Why can’t we stop looking at ourselves in the mirror and realize we don’t need to flaunt ourselves on the internet. I mean, it’s just the internet…

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24 Answers

Coloma's avatar

It’s just getting worse and worse. I’d say that hardcore narcissism stared back in the 70’s & 80’s with the self focus of these generations. On a personal level I divorced a raging pathological narcissist and have let go of 3 longterm friends in the last 5 years when I could no longer deny their gross self centeredness. It’s a losing battle I am afraid, and it’s particularily bad in my generation, especially with men. I’m grateful I am in “Men-o-pause.” lol

marinelife's avatar

The media and the colt of celebrity have spread throughout society.

wundayatta's avatar

Oh bah! What do you mean by narcissism and prove that it is a narcissistic society!

Sorry. Can’t eliminate a narcissistic society because there isn’t one.

Why don’t you take responsibility for your own newsfeed? Why not drop people who insist on sending you crap? It is possible. Even I know how to do it, although I don’t bother since I’m never on facebook any more. Oh wait! If facebook bothers you so, stop logging in.

I guarantee you that if you stop showing up on facebook, people will stop sending you things you don’t want. I did it. Now, as far as facebook is concerned, I don’t exist. I’m fine with that. I exist elsewhere. Fluther, for example, will not give you more attention than you can handle. In fact, it is likely that it won’t even give you as much attention as you really want. Deal with it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Start with yourself.

CWOTUS's avatar

Uh, @IzzyAndHerBeans… “you take pictures of yourself and admire them” ... and you decry narcissism elsewhere?

Is that cognitive dissonance, or just great irony?

marinelife's avatar

Ack! cult of celebrity (not colt).

TexasDude's avatar

“Be the change you wish to see…”

College_girl's avatar

You can’t really eliminate a narcissistic society let alone narcissism unless you seek psychological help. It is a psychological problem with your brain. So unless everyone sees a professional…..you’re stuck with it.

JLeslie's avatar

People are lonely and disconnected more and more. Part of social networking is being able to connect with people. The more you post, them more chance you will get comments and have some sort of conversation with people. Posting a new photo every day sounds quite compulsove, most people are not like that. If I happen to have a photo of me taken that I like, I might put it up on facebook, especially if my friends might know the circumstance it was taken. Like I put up some photos from a party a race, becaise we have a lot of friends who race. I would show the pics to them in person if I saw them more often.

I think the answer to not being on social networking as much and not craving so much attention is being able to connect with people in real life, but that is getting harder and harder. Having people not putting up tons of photos of themselves is a separate matter, I guess those people either like how they look or get lots of positive feedback when they do it.

HungryGuy's avatar

I think anyone who is creative is narcissistic to some degree. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. Although I’m not a photographer (and I’m not at all photogenic), I am a writer. By putting forth my fiction to the public is probably about as narcissistic as someone posting their photo all over the multiverse.

Coloma's avatar

Well…there is “healthy” narcissism , which is a good self esteem, taking care of yourself, having boundaries, not being a neurotic people pleaser, and then there is malignant narcissism, which is at the far end of the spectrum.
The pathological narcissist is not just self absorbed, they are also compulsive liars, cheaters, manipulators, that lack empathy and see others as extensions of self, objects, and cannot handle the slightest criticism or confrontation on their behavior and certainly cannot empathize with the cause & effect of such.
They use others without a bit of shame or conscience.

As with anything it is a matter of degree.
The insecure facebook narcissist that needs a steady stream of attention and admiration may or may not morph into fullblown NPD.
There is a huge difference between occasional moments of self centeredness and longstanding patterns of behavior.

Everyone likes attention, feedback, enjoys sharing their creative side, but this is a far cry from the pathological narcissist whose entire sense of self and identity DEPENDS on a constant stream of attention and admiration from outside themselves.

A “normal” person may enjoy being complemented on their writing or artwork, or other accomplishments but a narcissist NEEDS the vainglory to feel that they actually EXIST.

Extreme narcissism is a serious emotional health issue that has far reaching ramifications for our culture and society and the individuals that are abused by these types. It is no laughing matter, these people can do serious harm.

YARNLADY's avatar

First, we need to stop judging others, especially when it comes to throwing around psychiatric diagnostic terms with ignorant abandon.

When people learn tolerance, respect and love, all our problems will be solved.

Earthgirl's avatar

Ironically I feel that alienation is feeding the narcissism. People are desperate to connect and they have forgotten how. Maybe some of them never knew how. It becomes a case of “Look at me! look at me!!!” Why? Because underneath it all people are really very lonely. They are desperate for attention.

Coloma's avatar

@Earthgirl There is much truth in that, but modest narcissism borne of lonliness is not the same as fullblown NPD.

@YARNLADY I agree with not tossing around psychiatric labels, but, the narcissism epidemic is real, and for those afflicted with the most damaging traits of the affliction are very disturbed people that cause a lot of damage. Hardcore pathological narcissism is getting a lot of attention the last handful of years because it is becoming epidemic and it is the very antithesis of tolerance, respect and love.

Aethelflaed's avatar

You know, before people had Facebook and digital cameras, they just showed their narcissism in different ways. We aren’t more narcissistic than before.

As for the photos, some people see them as sharing, as a way to connect with people whom they can’t see often. When I see pictures of my sister in her daily life, I feel closer to her, I know what’s going on with her, and it makes it more tolerable that I can’t see her that often because she lives so far away.

Earthgirl's avatar

Coloma Is there really such as a thing as “modest narcissism”,lol ? Seems like a contradiction in terms. I just think I want to try to understand the neediness that is behind some of the self promotion. But the attention mongering and showing off is a big turn off to me really. I was taught to be modest so maybe I am too much the other way. I am uncomfortable with attention being focused on me. That isn’t good either. I guess it’s all about the happy medium.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Earthgirl I don’t really get this idea that attention seeking is bad, and must be stopped. Aren’t you seeking some attention when you say that you were taught to be modest, and are thus better than these other people? People want to connect. There’s nothing wrong with that. How we connect changes, but the desire for connection never does, and there’s nothing wrong with this desire for connection.

Earthgirl's avatar

I never said that I was better. I said I was raised that way and that I am probably too much the opposite way of the attention seekers. It’s not good to be too self-effacing either as I am.

Coloma's avatar

Well…for anyone that has not had an up close and personal experience with the malignant end of the spectrum, all I can say is, lucky you. lol

Again, modest, means a few traits, malignant means a very damaged psyche that causes much damage to others. True malignant narcissism is really crossing the line into sociopathology. Conscienceless people do a lot of harm and knowing what to watch out for is very important.

@Aethelflaed Attention seeking is not all bad, if you’re under 8 years of age. lol
I don’t think @Earthgirl is claiming that, only that some measure of modesty and humility is a more attractive feature than a ” look at me!” attitude. I agree, it is.
It’s one thing to embrace our good traits and not be afraid of exposing them, and entirely another to only feel okay about yourself when you are getting a constant stream of accolades.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Coloma It’s one thing to embrace our good traits and not be afraid of exposing them, and entirely another to only feel okay about yourself when you are getting a constant stream of accolades. And I entirely agree, I just think that a very small amount of the Facebook population is posting all these pictures because they only feel ok about themselves when they are getting praise. There are many different reasons people use the various functions of social networking, and most of them aren’t a sign of psychological issues.

Nullo's avatar

It’s not a society thing as much as it is a people thing; in religious circles, we call it pride, or classically, vainglory. We’ve just let our manners grow lax in the last few decades.
I’d say that it’s a side effect of the ego-stroking and ‘be yourself’ business that we do in the name of self-esteem, but I have nothing to back that up with.

Try telling people that they remind you of a parakeet with a mirror.

Coloma's avatar

@Nullo Yes, pride. Well said.

@Aethelflaed I agree that not all social networking is of a narcissistic nature, but, as far as attention. I know a woman who at 51 still drinks too much and gets up on speakers in bars and dances like she’s 18. I feel so embarressed when I see people who feel they are being “cool” when they are really just fools. lol Have fun, but for gods sake, act your fucking age! lol

As a 50+ female, trust me, my generation is having a really, really hard time accepting their limitations, I think the whole ” 50 is the new 30” is a classic example of narcissism, terror of aging and death. No, 50 is not the new 30, it’s 50, act like you didn’t just graduate middle school. lol

smilingheart1's avatar

The search for significance, affirmations that one is “okay”, financial ability, family breakdown, leisure time, encouraging of self actualization by women’s tv programming, technology in general, especially mobile devices and large city urban numbness all feed narcissim. We literally drive our vehicles right into our housing cavity after work and can avoid neighbors in the process. Sesame Street sings “me, me, me, I like being me.”

mattbrowne's avatar

Teach people positive psychology interventions.

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