Friday, October 09, 2009

Me squared

Me taking a picture of a mirror me.

I recently read a study where the researchers posited that blogging and microblogging (twitter, facebook, and other stuff like that I'm oblivious to) are making us all narcissists and are actually, in some cases, manifestations of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Alright, so I didn't actually read this study to begin with. First I read about it in a glossy mag called Fairlady  - for women in their prime (over 40, seems) - which likes to do articles with actual substance. Every once in a while. Between articles like In the Mood for Sex about dating your husband and making sure you hire a babysitter and buy lubricant, Bronzed and Beautiful on the exciting yet complex world of self-tanners, and the completely useless staple 30 outfits in 30 days on combining pieces of clothing and accessories with other pieces of clothing and accessories for plenty of pages.

But I like Fairlady. It's like xylitol bubblegum. It's still gum that you chew with your mouth wide open, but it has something in it that actually makes your teeth healthier.  

Then I read about the study on the Psychology Today website, where the focus seemed to be on selling a book titled The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M Twenge Ph.D. and W. Keith Campbell Ph.D. This book is based on a study by Twenge and John Foster, which I have been unable to find.

So yeah, mostly going by what I read in Fairlady. But I also get most of my news from Twitter.

And that puts me smack in the middle of my initial point.

Yes, there's been a point to this the whole time. Just had to justify my reading of a fashion/lifestyle/and other such crap mag. So none of you think I watch Oprah all day long. Which I don't. I watch a mix of Mythbusters (Aren't they just the shit?), and whatever shows we can buy on DVD (recently Fringe, since the 5th seasons of Lost and Weeds aren't out yet).

Disclaimer: I love and respect Oprah for what she does and how she uses her fame, and would never ever cross anyone who might in fact be in cahoots with Google and secretly rule the world and everything in it, and might have already been party to diving the world into ruled zones. A divide in which she got the women, actual tangible products, literacy, and weight.

I bow to her greatness.


That's me trying to bow, but being as flexible as a carton of milk (soon to be Oilk?).



Is there an epidemic of narcissistic behavior? According to Twenge's definition of an epidemic, most certainly. Since for her an epidemic is "changes among individuals and changes in the culture." Turns out we are in the throes of all kinds of epidemics: traveling, working, eating, marrying, driving, cooking, writing, you name it. And the worst epidemic of all, well, that has got to be an epidemic of change and development.

I'm not denying that NDP might not be the best possible disposition to have in today's world, but I'm also amazed at someone's need to make it into an epidemic. More than ever before, we are raised to be individuals, with individual thoughts and ideas, goals and personalities (some of us even have more than one) which all matter. To someone. In today's world a single life is important and worthy of mention and should not be wasted.

See, for some odd reason I would call that progress.

But no. Because I tweet or blog about what is important to me in my life, I'm manifesting a narcissistic quality. Actually, just thinking that anyone's going to give a shit about these words makes me a narcissist, since I'm not a thought-leader, a politician, a celebrity, an industrial tycoon, or a talk-show host.

Where is the line between a healthy self-esteem and narcissism? Where is the line between narcissism and disorder?

Does it matter? Do I matter?

Closing note: I wrote this whole thing while listening to Brad Paisley's Alcohol on repeat, and especially to that line referring to alcohol that goes ...helping white people dance... which got me to thinking about expectations and stereotypes, which in turn made me think that Brad Paisley is a deep man, but then I thought that maybe he's not, but that I'm a really deep woman, which made me think that I'm a complete and utter narcissist.

Smack bam. Narcissistic slap in the face.

What do you think of all this? Because your thoughts matter to me.


Two Flights Down said...

I agree with you. It also irks me when people make comments like, "The internet has made everyone a writer," as if that were a bad thing. So what if more people are observing what goes on around them and decides to write about. Since when did thinking and creativity become a negative thing? Or, why must it be reserved for only the elite in order to remain valuable?

Josefine said...

...sorry what? i wasn't listening... too busy updating my face book status and textingmy friends about my bowel movements. brb.

Esmerelda said...

I wholeheartedly disagree.

NDP means that I am more important than you. But people have been journaling and conversing for, I don't know, a long time. This is just a new forum, one which is less private. Does the lack of privacy make someone narcissistic? Should I go burn all my paper journals? I argue that this has made us more aware of others - when I blog/fb/tweet, I am just as concerned as what others' think of my opinion/story as I am about the opinion/story itself.

I argue that if you are looking for devices that promote NDP, look no further than cell phones and Ipods. My conversation/music is more important than paying attention to other pedestrians/drivers. My world is more important than you.

Maybe they need to re-evaluate their methods. Or re-define their terms.

Miss Footloose said...

It's all just a more electronic and non-physical way of doing what our mothers and grandmothers did in earlier years:

1) Chatting over the fence with the neighbors.

2) gossiping with the milkman,

3) coffee klatching with friends,

4) writing letters to family.

And so on.

These days we don't know who our neigbors are, we have no milkman coming to the door, work all day hours from home and cannot coffee-klatch and why write letters to family when you have the telephone, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and so on.

Miss Footloose, often in far away places and happy to have modern technology, especially Skype.

Love them coffee klatches, though, when they make an retro appearance in my life.
Tales of the Globetrotting Life

baileythebookworm said...

I don't agree with that study either. I think improperly used, blogging/Tweeting/whatever can be a kind of narcissism, but show me something that can't. Social networking allows narcissistic people to find a wider audience to watch them love themselves...that doesn't mean it's an epidemic, and it doesn't mean that's all anyone uses it for. Any article geared towards selling a book is heavily biased, and any study that assumed social networking is creating an epidemic of personality disorders is totally bunk.

Fidgeting Gidget said...

I don't think you are narcissistic, I don't think I am, either.

But I do think that Brad Paisley is a fokken genius. RIGHT, OP?!?!

Big Fat Mama said...

Nicely posed. I think that some people are guilty of being narcisstic online but of course the beauty of the technology is that those who aren't interested simply don't have to read. I don't follow blogs that bore me...but also don't resent people who may choose to use a blog as an online journal of their day-to-day activities or as a place to show their latest photos.

Abby said...

despite the gravity of the issue, this post made me giggle.
i think there is a bold line separating self-esteem and narcissism, and we need to learn to recognize that.

Cyndy said...

So, being a stickler, I looked up the definition of narcissism. No where did I see the words like sharing, friendship, reaching out, learning, expanding, creativity, inspiration, etc. All things which I get from my blogging experience.

Self-admiration? Hell, in my recent posts I have done quite the opposite, exposing an ugly side that needed the support that I was getting from my bleeps to make a change. I was not alone. While I tend to be Pollyanna in many of the views I post, it is not to make you like me more. It just gets me through the day. And the best part? I know now that there are many others out there that "get" this.

What I think is narcissistic is writing an article or doing a study on something just so that they can be published. Or perhaps they needed to write something to keep their job. Again, a pretty self-absorbed reason for making it so black and white.

Many have commented, like Miss Footloose, that this is just a new medium that has more far reaching results. Some of it is crap, some of it is amazing. I trust that many of us, just like we do with other forms of entertainment, learn to weed through it. And perhaps some of these researchers need to dig a little further. Epidemic? Yes. For the sake of stroking egos? They missed the point entirely...

lyndseywiley said...

I'm I horrible for thinking statistics can say whatever someone wants them to say?

I don't believe numbers. That's the one thing I learned in college. Numbers lie as much as people, if given the opportunity.

And I don't think we are more narcissistic. I just think we have the opportunity to write down (and/or publish) what generations have being thinking for decades before us, but had no outlet to share it.

We've advanced and evolved.

I heart your contribution to my random thought process :o).

Amysthoughts said...

While I do think there are alot of Narcissistic people out there I definitely dont think its an epidemic. Excessive self love is annoying but self love I think is essential. If we dont love ourselves enough we become pitiful creatures and we would lack the confidence to do anything.

Facebook, Blogging, and Twitter dont create Narcissistic people, that is caused by how you were raised. FB etc is just a great way to communicate and also a fantastic way to get useful (and worthless) information out there.

Lisa-Marie said...

I am going to ask my in-laws about this, as they are psychiatrists and psychologists.

My own opinion os that whilst some people's posting, blogging and twittering is narcissistic, alot aren't. I write my blog to record stuff im my life, and to record and share recipes and ideas. Twitter is the mini version of this, and Facebook is used to keep in touch with people. Most of the bloggers I know arre much the same. However, I do thinkt here is a big dose of 'check me out I'm awesome' going on.
In a long winded way, I am just trying to say I think the narcissistic element in the minority.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

I think Brad Paisley comes up all too often in my life and I still haven't heard one of his songs yet. I fear you and Fidgeting Gidget will disown me if I don't at least pretend to try on the BP front.

Oh oops...did I make this comment all about me...again?

Ellie said...

I think you meant throes, not throws.

Erin P said...

Having been married to (past tense) a certified, diagnosed narcissist (NPD), I felt the need to chime in. The narcissist arranges his world so he is the absolute center. He deludes himself into thinking what he does is "for" everyone else in his life. He needs the world to tell him he's "a great guy." While I could imagine a narcissist writing a blog, I don't think he would get enough positive feedback and praise and agreement from the comments to feed his personality. Perhaps twitter is different, but isn't that also "one way"?

For me and from what I see/feel when I read the blogs I read, writing is a sharing of certain aspects of your life with others. A person with NPD usually has a very secret inner life where they feel inadequate and insecure, so they don't want to share their thoughts, they want only positive strokes.

When I write, I do it to share my thoughts and my life (my siblings and parents read it, so it keeps them up with my life too). I like comments, but I don't get many and don't mind. I read blogs because other people write interesting and insightful things, and I like to learn about others and their lives. I never saw that in my ex, and NPD is pretty much the opposite of it.

I'm going to see if I can find out what crazy criteria they used for that study, because it sure seems wrong to me!

omchelsea said...

Don't get sick! (See, that's a clear indication that you've been bathing in the pool, not just gazing at your reflection).

Sandy K. said...

I'm with you on this one.... This online format for journaling is just another way to "chat," to get to know someone, and to have a chance to express ideas and thoughts and likes and dislikes and...anything we want, in a modern way. Now, I don't consider myself a modern woman, necessarily, but I like being able to express myself, and read what others are saying. I read the newspaper (sometimes), so how is this so very different? It's also more interesting, and educational:).

My name is Erin. said...

Well, I have been feeling guilty lately, because I've not been keeping up on my favorite blogs. I've got a ton of good excuses, but non seem to outweigh the fact that I keep blogging from time to time and fully hope people are paying attention. All without reciprocating the attention... so maybe I've been a bit narcissistic. (I hope I spelled it right. Too lazy to check.) I'm off to go do the homework that consumes my computer time these days. I'd rather stay right here and catch up on all your narcissistic genius. XOXO

Loredana said...

I completely disagree with this study! So because we have blogs, or FB statuses or whatever else is out there, we are narcissistic? Then I guess I began being a narcissist at around 8 when I began keeping a diary, huh? I think that people that do these studies have nothing else better to research. They should put their money into research that really affect us and not worry that because we use the internet as a tool for ourselves it makes us narcissistic. I think it's great that we can write our thoughts down and not keep them in our heads and maybe even get a comment or two on them so we don't think we're going nuts sometimes!