Way back in 1979, a social critic named Christopher Lasch wrote “The Culture of Narcissism,” in which he made the case that increasing globalization, individualism over community, material success over loving relationships, nuclear families over the extended family or the tribal culture, and the “bottom line” over empathy, would lead to levels of societal narcissism previously unheard of. Of course narcissism has always been around, and used to be brushed under the rug (“nice” people didn’t talk about abuse), but there was always the community or extended family to catch you when you fell. Now, it’s each person for him- or herself, and you’re regarded as a “moral failure,” even by your own family, if you fail to impress the world with lofty achievements, the perfect body, impressive credentials, the biggest McMansion, the prettiest children, or the most glamorous career.
The problem of societal narcissism goes way beyond Millennials taking selfies (taking selfies is really not all that narcissistic anyway). American politics has become a reality show, in which the most “colorful” or outrageous character has a better chance than the one who truly cares about the people and the future of the nation.
My friend has written an outstanding article about how narcissism has become normalized and even transformed into a virtue in today’s selfish, materialistic, empathy-challenged society. Comments here are disabled; please comment under the original post.
“We all have a moral obligation to leave this world a better place than the world that we’ve found.”
The essence of society is interconnectivity.
As progressive, mature, healthy adults, we build communities and relate to our fellow human beings. We find things in common, and we go from there. We share values. We communicate experiences. We also tend to exclude people who we think do not fit a certain mold, and sometimes enjoy pointing the finger at a convenient target which reveals to us things we would rather not acknowledge. I’d rather have more of the former than the latter, but I think it’s worth exploring the idea that contemporary society has deteriorated into narcissism.
What I mean by social narcissism is that society (particularly in North America, but sadly everywhere else thanks to the spread of Neoliberalism and globalization) implements and praises narcissistic traits as successful…
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