A lovely flower blooms in America

…and it’s called narcissism.

GREAT piece from Newsweek on the Culture of Me that has developed in our proud country. Interesting that it comes on the heels (heels! get it?!) of the Miss USA and Nuestra Belleza Latina pageants.

And I’ve mentioned the the post by Amy about the inherent narcissism of blogging. A recent lively discussion on blogging therapy by my bloggy friend Ink reveals that this manic cyber-underworld we inhabit is rife with manias aplenty. (I know! I know! I’m linking too much! Someone…stop…meeeeee…)

So what’s the deal?

First- Evenshine will never be at risk for narcissistic personality disorder. I’m a Calvinist. You just can’t be narcissistic and be Calvinist. Possibly the same applies to you Catholics out there- both traditions are highly aware of our own needfulness, of our own forgiven-ness. We’re NOT all that, but we know Someone who is. I do, however, struggle with the need to feel appreciated and valued. Maybe that’s why I teach. And blog?

Secondly- the question perambulating around in this insidiously philosophical mind of mine is: could the a-theist leanings of most people (even those who wouldn’t label themselves as such) have anything to do with the wave of nausea- I mean, narcissism- that buffets our society? If there is, really, no God, or no Hell, at least- then why NOT be totally self-involved? It’s how you get ahead, after all…right?

Talk amongst yourselves. I’m going shopping for an “I love ME” shirt.

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11 Responses to A lovely flower blooms in America

  1. faemom says:

    Hmm, intesting questions and post. But since I’ve seen some really narcistic Christians, including Catholics, I think it’s more cultural than religious. I blamed the narcissism I saw in SoCal on the fact that when both parents work, they feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids, so they BUY the kids love, and then the kids grow up thinking materialism is self worth and they have that in abundence. I think that all this narcissism comes from the fact that many people were raised to expect they get whatever they want when they want. There is no humility. And though I think it’s easier to teach compassion and humility with the help of religion, I also think you can teach greed, selfishness, and narcissism with religion too. Let’s not forget the preachers who say God wants us to be happy; He wants us to be rich. Oh please.

  2. KathyB! says:

    I like this one, Evenshine!

    Yes, blogging is narcissistic in nature. If that is the sum total of your life then clearly that’s a problem. I live my life in such a way that my entire being is centered around caring, loving, and essentially serving… others. My needs, the vast majority of the time, are secondary to those around me. Blogging is the one aspect of my life that is about me in every sense of the word and it keeps me sane enough to do what I do.

    As for the link between atheist leanings and budding narcissism? I’m not buying it (although I think it is an interesting point). SOme of the most self-serving people I’ve met are devout (by their description anyway) Christians (and I run in a very Catholic crowd) and some of the most giving are those who don’t actively participate in any religion ( we didn’t really define atheism for the purposes of this discussion, though, so this could be the point of differentiation).

    I think that the issue of narcissism gets a lot of press these days, but I’m not entirely convinced that it is more prevalent now than it was 100 years go.

    Then again, Evenshine, you know how I do love to straddle fences (re: stem cells :)… I’m curious to see if I can be compelled to change my mind.

  3. evenshine says:

    Fae- the difference, of course, is that Christians have an objective authority which tells them it’s wrong. If you concur with the Selfish Gene theory (a common one in atheist circles), then you are genetically predisposed towards selfishness, and there’s no reason for disallowing it.

  4. evenshine says:

    KathyB! – thanks. I like this one too, but you know me, perpetually problematic. I agree that narcissism is not the sum total of a person, but we’re dealing here with an epidemic of it. My question is: when did this become not only OK, but encouraged? As the article says, the solution used to be life. Now, life itself is one big “I love ME” fest. I shudder for my children.

  5. Evenshine…. thoughtful post…I often struggle with this and with raising my daughters is an upper middle class environment, I am starting to see my daughters begin to care about where I shop for their clothes, labels and their beauty compare to those around them. I agree with one of your other comments, it’s part of the culture that many parents/families/neighborhoods create and many people buy into it to fit in. If you position that amongst religion…I’ve seen all kinds…
    I too shudder for my daughters and keep telling them that they are beautiful but it radiates from within, I will keep telling them that clothes and fabric are the same everywhere..that logos and labels are the only difference between one item and another. It just incredibly complex if the environment you are in is conducive to the narcissism. Plus lets face it…my latina family will see me sometimes, not made up and with shorts and a tank top and will say that “I am so Americana” …talk about narcissism ( i don’t know that I spelled that right)

  6. KathyB! says:

    But is it really one big ME fest?! I’m still not convinced of that either. I wonder if the spotlight isn’t just shining on it and illuminating something that was always there? It’s not exactly something that’s popular to admit… hello, my name is KathyB! and I’m a narcissist! Doesn’t sound very nice… And is it encouraged or or is it acknowledged because a certain small amount is healthy?

    I’ll be the first to admit that there is a healthy portion out there that is unexplainable and unjustifiable… Eh, I can’t explain it well. I wish we could talk this would be so fun to hash through from 40 different angles, although I suspect you’d outsmart me in the end!!

  7. insider53 says:

    Okay…way to philosophical for me…you college kids say the darnedest things. A little narcissism never hurt anyone…I am pretty sure it contributes to better self esteem. If narcissism is all bad then what is the alternative?

  8. evenshine says:

    Insider53- did you check out the article I linked to? I think narcissism does hurt, and that’s my point in the post. The alternative is a healthy self-esteem, which might involve some humility, a recognition of one’s weaknesses, and a determination not to succeed because “I deserve it”, but because “I worked for it”. Thanks for commenting!

  9. evenshine says:

    KathyB!- no way that I’d win, and even so, it’s not about winning! I’m still not sure that blogging isn’t inherently narcissistic, but I’m willing to be convinced. I know that blogging has been therapeutic to many people, so I’m hesitant to say that it’s all bad. There are many reasons for blogging, after all!

  10. evenshine says:

    LP- good point. I, too, wonder about the many influences that are teaching my kids, and that *I* am teaching my kids unconsciously. We haven’t made it as far as discerning labels, but I can attest to my daughter’s prim defiance in the area of wearing pants.

  11. Good discussion in comments! I need to go read the article…

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