It’s Narcissist Friday!
To be fair to the girls pictured in the video, I think the announcers set this up by asking people to take and send selfies. But this popular video is seen by some as an example of the narcissism of our day. What do you think? Is the fascination with the selfie an indication that we have become a narcissistic culture? Are those who take multiple selfies narcissists?
Okay, you know what a selfie is, right? You hold your phone and take a picture of yourself. Of course, that’s not quite all. You have to post that picture online somewhere. Maybe your Facebook page or some other social media page. Often it is a picture of you somewhere or doing something or with someone. Sometimes it is just a new picture of you.
Actually, I don’t think the selfie is a sign of narcissism. Here’s why: when was the last time your narcissist took a selfie? I am going to risk a guess—never? While I could believe that some of the selfie shooters are narcissists, I suspect that few are. Most, I suspect, are just insecure and in need of affirmation. That may be somewhere on the narcissistic spectrum, but it doesn’t make a person a narcissist.
Now, you can educate me if you think I am wrong. Why do I think the narcissist wouldn’t take selfies to post? Because it would open him/her to criticism. How often have you looked at someone’s selfies and wondered how they could post that picture? How often have you heard your narcissist criticize or make fun of someone’s photo? I just don’t see a narcissist exposing himself or herself in that way.
The selfie is a vulnerable act. It may be an attempt to feel good about oneself and a hope to receive affirmation from others. And, I would guess, for many it isn’t even that. It’s just something new and fun. That isn’t a bad thing. And it is nice to see recent pictures of friends and family.
Not every self-centered act is narcissistic, nor marks one as a narcissist. The world uses labels freely, too freely sometimes. Not everyone who is afraid is paranoid, for example. Not everyone who forgets has dementia. In fact, using labels freely has the effect of changing, lessening, the value of the label. If you say that anyone who exhibits an extreme emotion is bi-polar, you do a disservice to those who really suffer from the illness.
Narcissism is much more than self-focus. Narcissism is a lack of empathy, usually with subsequent cruel manipulation. A narcissist is almost always an abuser of some kind. Narcissism causes pain, deep internal pain, in its victims. Narcissism is serious.
To look at a group of girls taking selfies or to see a friend who takes photos of himself and point to narcissism as the cause is too simplistic. It minimizes the real damage narcissists do to others and the darkness in their hearts. We should see narcissism as a problem, not a casual thing everyone experiences. It is hard enough to get people to understand the pain of victims.
At the same time, the word is becoming popularized. Don’t be discouraged by this. My advice is to avoid the word for the most part. As I have said before, when you tell your story, tell about the behavior. The word will increasingly get in the way. Most people will know nothing about it, even though they have probably used it to criticize their friends.