Too Perfect: A Look at Social Narcissism

Narcissism is a staple of our modern world. Whether it’s social media posts that garner a swarm of likes or hearts, fixing up a face or wardrobe on order to look extraordinary enough to stand out of a crowd, or simply being too overly concerned with oneself and their outward appearance, many individuals find themselves caught up in the individualism of the era. In a peculiar sense, even the mildest practice has seemingly become a sort of survival mechanism for mankind–as a social species, narcissism plays upon mankind’s need for social interaction to exploit its desire for peer approval and constant positive feedback. Conversely, the more one focuses on their outward self, the more disconnected and numb they become towards other people and general empathy–displayed with the passive “Thoughts and Prayers”–until, just like the term’s namesake, the individual ends up withering away to the view of their own image (more on that later). Understanding the role of narcissism or self-care in all its variations is paramount in both trying to achieve progress in society and looking for ways to close whatever gaps between the self and others have been created as a result of this individualism.

On the one hand, this belief can be whittled down to a basic survival instinct–to illustrate, most of us know what it’s like to live mainly on ramen or PB&J’s, and so we do everything that we see is in our own best interest to avoid that particular starvation. To a lesser extent, this could also be applied to how one presents themselves to the general public (online or in real life), because, again, that sense of wanting to fit in or find acceptance from another drives one to find a support group so that they have a source to turn to in time of crisis.  Now, in terms of online use, I myself am a social media fiend, as I particularly enjoy posting various things on the medium, and of that I am guilty. And there are a lot of fun and exciting things to find on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all other platforms. And there are people who have found it to be a great way to connect with others, so there are some positive to it. However, having found myself at times getting invested too much into the medium or being at the receiving end of someone’s mercy both on and offline, I think it’s important to be aware of what this medium is capable of in the context of the world which we inhabit.

On the other hand, however, the enabling of modern society towards acting on individualistic, self-centered tendencies has been shown to drive individuals toward an image that, previously, was mainly if not only seen in the likes of fictional characters (namely, Gordon Gekko, Hannibal Lector, or South Park’s Eric Cartman if you’re more of a comedy type). In a sense, these people take the narcissistic traits associated with copious social media and fashion trend use to a whole new level offline.

Instead of just posting random stuff on Twitter or Facebook, other people can be used if the individual feels that their presence acts as an extension of their own perceived glory. The narcissist can perceive that the great and mighty achievements of someone can directly reflect back on themselves, should that person possess the desired characteristics, and continue to exploit that person for their own personal gain or desire to “feel good.” I like to believe that this is akin to a child doing something just so they can get a “lollipop,” and personally dub it a Lollipop Effect.

Of course, with narcissism, if the narcissist (let’s call them “X”) views themselves as perfect or nearly flawless, then these perceived “extensions” of themselves (let’s call them “Y”) must also be perfect or exhibit good or outstanding traits. Because, should someone point out any glaring grievances or shortcomings, especially if it’s Y, then X will resort to dumping their problems on Y and making it seem as though Y is the one with the issues; some will know this as “gas lighting.” X will also put down Y’s achievements in order to make their own achievement’s look better in comparison. Feeling entitled to only the greatest glory, X will even get rid of the old Y and replace them with a new Y, or someone who will comply with their superiority.And it can happen on Facebook just as much as it can happen in a real life situation.

All of this is an example of one’s “survival method” taken to a horrible extreme, and the treatment off the proverbial “Y” in this instance can be interpreted in terms of potential dehumanization. X was using Y to further their own benefit, just like how many teenage girls use Instagram to further other’s perceptions of their own beauty. When X is happy with all that’s going on, then Y can be happy to; when it hits the fan and X gets angry and wrecks havoc, then Y is saddled with the imperfection and has to take full responsibility for the calamity, especially if they want X to treat them well.And so, a sense of hopelessness and depression on part of Y ensues.

Similarly, just as one ditches a fashion piece perceived to be “tacky” (chokers and socks with sandals seem to be popularly loathed), Narcissist Supreme can rid themselves of good ol’ Johnny Tallahassee if they feel that the latter is non-beneficial to their godlike status. This is made even worse if X makes it seem that Y is totally dependent on them, making it appear that Y’s reliance on X is their only method of survival–therefore, opening the door for X to do whatever they please with Y. The longer this occurs, the less Y feels like themselves or human to begin with, and the more that they feel as an extension of X.

Keeping this in mind when looking at the greater social landscape, it doesn’t come as a surprise that collective narcissism seems to be on the rise. It isn’t just popular to post selfies like there’s no tomorrow, but the widespread practice of such and how it yields a large collective response has snowballed into more individuals doing similar acts and, eventually, reaching a stage where empathy and concern for the well-being of others is almost nonexistent. People use each other to further an agenda moreso than ever before, and, if they’re not already withering away like Narcissus in front of his own reflection, they’re damning themselves by believing that their only source for survival is with Narcissus, just like those who died believing that they could not measure to his perceived glory.

Such a belief that one is above all others is reflected in our politics (particularly with treatment towards those of opposing ideals), our religious practices, and our apathetic attitude towards the educational system (be it a decline in academic performance or the apathy towards someone brandishing a weapon at children). And, the more focus is placed on individualism, the less likely it is for one to be able to actively survive, or at least in a way that allows them to be somewhat empathetic.

Progress will only happen for the individual or the social group if a rejection of modern individualism is acted upon. Regardless of whether one is the victim or the instigator in a narcissistic scenario, awareness of the problem and looking for ways to be more open or empathetic with others is the more sound solution to addressing those issues that plague us today.

 

Advertisements

Apology

You greeted me with open arms,

Happy to have a companion in this world.

At times, joy arose like a flame

That attracted moths with its light.

The image was perfect.

 

You would rise in fury

When the last of what should have been yours

Was left devoured

Or if I broke something by accident.

It upset you, so I apologized,

And then the joyful atmosphere resumed.

 

Sometimes, I get tired and weary,

And so I sigh to relieve the tension.

Or I try to defend my innocence

During a debacle.

 

That draws ire from you, apparently,

So you mock my voice,

Something that happens in arguments

Whenever I try to defend myself.

I apologize for my actions,

And my behavior is changed for the better.

 

The images of hands playing with its toy,

Disposing of its broken form when the warranty expires,

Violating me,

Are what keep me awake at night.

 

Your philosophy of being honest with yourself

Showcases who you are,

So unique in your flawlessness.

Henceforth, if I have an ambition,

A dream, a love, a desire,

A belief about a happening in my life,

I’m discouraged, for I am “delusional” or “pathetic”,

As that is not what you want.

 

I try to scream “no” to help myself,

But the word comes flying back into my ears.

Sometimes on repeat like a broken record.

One apology later,

One more “I’m always wrong” later,

and your back to contentment,

And I, delusional as I am, am losing a piece of myself.

So long as it means stability.

 

Eventually, the warranty expires,

And you dispose of me and my pieces.

Other hands try to explore my mind,

But I manage to escape into the open.

 

Those who try to drag me into the darkness

Claim purity and innocence.

I can’t attack them myself,

Not because of their purity,

But to preserve that

Which still holds me

In one piece.

 

The pieces, surprisingly,

Are resilient,

Despite hanging on to each other

By possibly a spaghetti noodle.

I find myself a little more wary,

But time permits me

To see the light of others

A little more clearly each day.

 

Despite the shadows,

I can feel the joy returning,

My body healing itself.

 

I’m not sorry.

 

 

 

 

Runner’s High

The bitter cold stings and whips

Against your skin

As your feet blaze

Through the terrain.

The high is in full throttle,

And you’re savoring every second

Of this bliss.

 

The beginning wasn’t too unpleasant,

But now this euphoria

Of energy and joy

Comes unbridled,

And, for a moment,

You catch a glimpse

Of Nirvana.

 

The sprint having reached

A steady rhythm and pace,

You carry on

To maintain this pleasure,

This perfection.

 

Something cuts you off–

A lost and disoriented walker,

Unable to make their mind up–

You pause

To let them cross.

 

You feel great,

But now feel the stinging ache

Of tight muscles

Between your shoulders.

 

No big, you tell yourself,

Proceeding to try and regain

The addictive rush.

 

You pause more often,

For the ache of your joints

Have coupled

With a need for water.

You didn’t realize your thirst

Until inspection

Of a leg

In the dry wind

Made it so.

 

You have to be honest

With yourself,

But, nonetheless,

The end won’t come to you,

So you carry on.

 

The rush is gone.

The fibers in your body

Scream in protest

To stop.

The elements now in full assault

Against your senses.

 

You ask yourself

How long?

What else needs to break

Or strain

Before you collapse completely?

Before this hellfire

Takes everything?

 

Despite this,

You know the race

Isn’t over.

The end draws

Ever closer,

The golden ticket

To the finale.

 

The rush is gone,

Replaced with a new

Incendiary wildfire.

 

Yet, as if by a miracle,

You now find yourself

Finished.

 

The line is crossed,

And you recline

On the grassy knolle.

That first rush never returned,

And your body still aches

With furious fervor

Against you.

 

It doesn’t matter.

 

You soak in

The satisfaction of completion.

It isn’t euphoric, granted,

But the feeling

Of liberation

Soothes the body.

 

Here you are,

Bruised, scarred, and weary,

And still triumphant

As you slip into

A more rewarding satisfaction,

Surrendering your body

To a healing rest.

Day 10: Unresolved

The tension that existed between the two was a poison that, slowly but surely, corrupted the well-being of each soul. He, with his deceptive facade and false disengagement, and she, with her worries and unsettled ire.

With any other individual, nothing was amiss. The best that these two could hope for when together was silence in the presence of the other, alacrity and frustration aside. Whatever longing each one had for the other’s company and warmth was suppressed by the festering wounds of deception and resentment, growing in cadence with a ticking time bomb that would soon consume them both.

An Open Letter to the President of the United States

Dear Mr. Trump,

At the beginning of this year, in January, you repeated a campaign-long vow to make the already great United States of America “great again.” You swore to work together with the American people to progress the nation into an era of prosperity and triumph, and that all of us are equal regardless of race and social background–that this nation belonged to all of us. You promised to put “America first” in the eyes of the world, and vowed to keep the people’s interests at heart with this statement.

In the almost eleven months since being sworn into office, the dismantling and rushed actions taken by you, your cabinet, and your Congress have shown to be contradictory to all that is written above, and are seemingly beneficial to only the few individual and corporate entities that are the wealthiest in the nation. And the list, while still growing, is decently decorated–swearing in the hilariously unqualified Betsey DeVos to head an already fractured education system; justifying the Nazis of Charlottseville, SC, responsible for the deaths and injuries of many, as “very nice people”; pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, one that aims to alleviate the oncoming dangers of a rapidly changing climate, even though natural disasters such as the California wildfires and Hurricane Harvey continue to mount in destructive tendencies; endorsing Roy Moore, a convicted sexual predator, for the Senate seat in Alabama to further the interests of the GOP; and, today, repealing the Net Neutrality rulings that allow for access to an open Internet without having to charge for different websites or having to block sites altogether. Again, there are many others, yet these events have proven to be the most monumental of your short tenure.

The worst thing about all of this, however, is that all of these events and rulings share this one commonality: these were not decided upon or enacted because there was an issue that could be amended with the previous form of the ruling or the seats, but, rather, these roads were taken out of spite toward the previous presidency and the opposing party which you and your own party members loathe without any intention to reconcile and work together. There are people who act as such in said opposing party, yes, and there have certainly been scandals committed by the Democrats that warrant anger and distrust, but the behavior and actions displayed by the Trump Republican Party have been an astounding display of debauchery and cruelty. All that has been accomplished under your presidency in the past year seemingly benefits only you and those closest to you, leaving the rest of the nation in a state of fear and uncertainty–wondering if they’ll have money and resources to stay afloat in the workforce, have a decent education for their children, or even if they’ll survive in this country (see: the Dreamers and all graduate students everywhere). And, as of today, the American citizen can now wonder if they’ll have an affordable or accessible internet to utilize for information and communication. It seems almost as though the right to free speech, press, and anything of the like will only be limited to those things that the head of the Interconnected Network of Networks deems suitable based upon their views and desires, and not in the best interests of the common citizen.

Leaders of the free world and representatives of the free people should put the needs and concerns of the many before the needs of the few. Based upon everything written here, as well as a plethora of careless acts of cruelty and selfishness, it seems now more than ever that all that you and your followers have done are more in line with the interests of yourselves and anyone who will say “yes” to you. As a regular citizen of the United States, I implore you and/or your party members to begin doing things that will benefit the nation as a whole in some way. Otherwise, if you still continue to recklessly create and throw away things out of spite for some individual or group, I and millions of others will incessantly call upon you to step down from the mantle of leadership and allow someone of greater character to steer the direction of this land toward a unified and sustainable future.

Sincerely,

Mairi

 

Me Too

#MeToo

From the incessant grabbing and grinding at music festivals, to being inspected like a piece of meat even when wearing modest attire, to being pinned and indulged from even when you say “no”–it is time for the silence to end.

Day 9: Sometimes

Sometimes, we fall in love with a coward.

Sometimes, we love someone who casts us aside for the sake of pursuing something that is, ultimately, more attracting by some virtue of a deceitfully physical illusion rather than substance of the emotional.

Sometimes, we are betrayed by those closest to us–for, no matter how virtuous or self-serving their ambition is (especially out of “true love”), they will do whatever it takes to see their goal completed, regardless of who may get hurt.

And, strangely, that’s alright.

Because, sometimes, it takes these to grow into something suited for better than these troubles.