The Narcissism Plague

AP Photo/Jessica Hill

The internet has given humanity both blessings and a wave of curses. While information distribution has never been greater, it's caused us to become incredibly lazy in learning things. It's given us the ability to have an abundance of food show up at our doors with the press of a button but it's caused us to stop learning how to feed ourselves. 

Possibly most egregious is that the internet has given us the ability to connect to humanity with an ease we've never experienced before and yet it's divided us in shocking ways. Moreover, it's created a way for us to be expressive to many, increasing our willingness to be seen and heard, yet at the same time creating narcissists that feed off this attention. 

You've seen a massive rash of narcissists lately and in different forms. 

The most common is the virtue signaler. It's the easiest expression of narcissism that requires very little work to back up. Virtue signaling is often done to indicate the signaler's "goodness," oftentimes in comparison to someone else's shortcomings. All it takes to virtue signal lately is to log onto a social media platform and make a statement about a hot-button issue while wagging your finger at a group that takes an opposite position than you. 

The trouble for the virtue signaler is that their opinion is often not a position the signaler actually holds, but is just pretending to hold it in order to receive accolades and praise from peers. Usually, when that virtue is put to the test, the signaler often fails to live up to their own professed standards. 

You saw this a lot when Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bussed illegal aliens to self-professed "sanctuary cities" or places where the majority of the populace shamed border states for calling attention to the illegal alien problem. 

There's also the "main character" narcissist. You'll often find them posting themselves on the internet doing a range of things like creating unnecessary drama that feeds into their narcissism or doing an action that inconveniences everyone else. 

You've likely noticed this kind of narcissist making videos at the gym, raising a stink when men so much as glance at them. You'll also find them creating dances in public, no matter where they are and whether it's appropriate or not, just like this woman who decided to create an Instagram dance post while people were trying to get to their seats on a plane. 

Underlying all of this narcissism is unapologetic selfish behavior that has grown like a weed thanks to it being rewarded with attention and sometimes even praise. Even the negative attention a narcissist receives will be interpreted by the narcissist as success as any kind of attention is good attention. 

The seemingly obvious solution is to stop giving them attention, but in the age of the internet, that's nigh impossible. Even if you stop, few others will. "Influencers" will always be around because someone will always want to give them attention for some reason. Sexy or beautiful women will always have their simps, and outrage baiters will always have people who want to be outraged. 

The true way to at least curb this isn't to treat the symptom but the disease. Younger generations should be taught that internet attention is shallow and rarely worth the trouble people go through to get it. There's nothing truly fulfilling about it, and like a drug addiction, you're always trying to chase the viral dragon. Internet likes and comments aren't the equivalent of real love or affection. The audience that loves you today can easily hate you tomorrow. 

Narcissism ultimately makes a person useless thanks to their inability to truly be useful or of service to anyone else. The trick is to teach children from the beginning that being selfless and of service to those in their immediate surroundings is far more valuable and rewarding. 

Perhaps we'll pick up on that as a species later down the line, but for now, we have a wave of narcissism that needs to be learned from. We need to understand that these people are "how not to" examples and that their 15 minutes may be working for them now, but down the line, it'll be a severe regret. 


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