Rage faces.

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Example of a single panel Rage comic using many rage faces.

 

You might have noticed I used a rage face in my last post.   In fact, I’ve used rage faces several times in several different posts. I love rage faces.

What the hell is a rage face?

Essentially, it’s a cross between a meme and an emoticon.  They are generally crudely executed (but sometimes grossly realistic) line-drawings of faces (usually male) showing exaggerated emotions. Rage is only one of them.   By now there are probably hundreds of variations of the different rage faces swimming in the vast ocean of cyberspace, if not thousands.

4_panel_rage_comic

Rage faces are publicly available and therefore if you use them, there’s no need to credit anyone.  You can upload a rage face, combine them, Photoshop them with other images, or add your own text, making a brand new meme or cartoon.  There are even special programs that let you do this.

Rage faces have been around awhile.   If you spend any time online, most likely you’ve come across Okay Guy, Rage Guy, Troll Guy, the Y U NO guy, the Forever Alone Guy, and many others.  The faces are probably most commonly used on social media or forums the same way “reaction” gifs are used (surely you’ve seen the Michael Jackson eating popcorn one–it appears on every forum whenever drama arises). The first rage face appeared on the website 4chan in 2007.   A year later, the first four-panel rage comic using various rage faces was created.  Now they’re everywhere, but I haven’t grown tired of them yet.  I still think they’re hilarious.

okay_guy Y_U_NO_GUY rage_guy forever_alone_face
Left to right: Okay guy, Y U NO guy, Rage guy, Forever alone guy.

Here’s an article that goes into more depth about rage faces:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/rage-comics

 

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I love the Internet.

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The Internet is a wonderful and terrible thing. It opens doors and slams them shut. It builds up and destroys. It educates and dumbs down. It lies and tells the truth. It’s a balance of dark and light, good and evil, alpha and omega. Cyberspace is a parallel universe that opens up when you touch your keyboard.

The Internet is a free-for-all. Anything can happen. It’s always evolving, always changing…for better or worse, you never know. And it’s still mostly free.

Oh, and there’s plenty of cats too.

internet_cats

I always thought of the Internet as comparable to being set loose in New York City during its most dangerous and exciting years–the 1970s and 1980s. You never knew what you would see, what sort of wonderful or terrible things could happen. It was a glorious chaos during that time. I know, I lived there then.

I hope the Internet is never “cleaned up” the way New York City was during the 1990s. I don’t want a Disneyland Internet.

22 Signs of Online Destructive Narcissists in Forums and Blogging Communities.

honore_daumier
Honore Daumier

If we’re blogging about pathology, at some point we’ll face a critic, an accuser. This can be a bewildering mess if we assume s/he will listen to reason. If we defend ourselves, the ante will be upped. If we over-explain ourselves, s/he declares victory, becoming increasingly strident with the reward of attention and sympathy. — CZBZ of The Narcissistic Continuum.

I just read a fabulous article about how narcissism works in online forums and blogs. I think it just may be the best article about this particular cyber-dynamic I’ve ever read. I liked it so much, I got permission from its author, CZBZ (owner and author of The Narcissistic Continuum), to reblog it here.

There are 22 “red flags” that the forum or blog you are on is run by a narcissist (or narcissists). I can attest from personal experience that every single one of these red flags is spot on. That goes for forums and blogs about ANY topic, all over the web universe–and blogs and forums about narcissistic abuse are not exceptions to this rule. You can’t get away from it.

Obviously some topics will attract more narcs than others–for example, a psychology or self-help blog or forum is probably going to attract (and be run by) fewer narcs than say, a cosmetic surgery (somatic narcissism) or political (cerebral narcissism) blog. A blog about improving relationships is going to have fewer narcs lurking about than, say, a celebrity-bashing one (like The Justin Bieber Hate Blog, as just one example) or even a blog that hates on the fans of a celebrity–yes, they do exist. But you never know where one will turn up. They could even be lurking on a charitable blog about helping the homeless.
Don’t forget that the serial killer and sexual sadist Ted Bundy spent time working in a rape crisis center!

Every forum manager or blogger necessarily has some narcissistic traits–otherwise they wouldn’t be running a forum or a blog! While not every blogger is a narcissist, there’s a narcissist in every blogger–if that makes sense. There is definitely a “me, me, look at me!” aspect to running a kind of online kingdom, even if it’s not the admin’s or manager’s primary motivation for writing the blog (or running the forum).

I’ll be the first to admit there’s some of that for me too. But I think for most of us, it’s healthy narcissism. Yes, there is a such thing. Without it, we’d all be walking around dragging our foreheads along the ground, leaving a trail of blood in the dirt, while wearing a sign that says, “KICK ME.” A little narcissism helps us survive. Without just a smidgen, we’d probably be dead. Almost anything, when there’s too much of it, turns bad. Narcissism stops being a vitamin and becomes a poison at very low doses. Think of those heavy metals in your blood–like iron or magnesium. In tiny doses they’re necessary for physical survival; but raise the levels of those metals infinitesimally, and you’re dead meat.

But I digress. I think CZBZ makes some very astute observations here about what to look for in blogs and forums to tell if you might be being taken for a ride by a narc in shining armor–or if the admin or forum manager’s intentions are honest.

I’ll also add one of my own here (although I think CZ mentions it too): Snark. The mean-spirited kind of snark. You know, the “I’m so cool/mighty/right and you’re a worthless idiot/lunatic/minion of Satan” condescending wittiness that makes you feel like the most lowly piece of pond scum in the lake–as you find yourself wondering whether the jokesters are really joking (and you’re just being too sensitive) or are just plain mean. Well, they’re actually both.

22 Signs of Online Destructive Narcissists in Forums & Blogging Communities

HonoreDaumier_MeetingOf35HeadsOfExpression_zps0853d8ba
Honore Daumier — “Meeting of 35 Heads of Expression”

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed finding new bloggers through the Slayer Award and reading their stories and personal insights. Ursula, the author of An Upturned Soul, posted an excellent article asking her readers an intriguing question: Online Narcissists–Does the blog you follow belong to a narcissist?

She asks:

“What if you are following the blog of a Narcissist? Does it matter? Does it affect you? Do you even notice? After all, bloggers are supposed to write about themselves, about their lives, and share their thoughts and feelings, and do so in a way which is creative and perhaps even exaggerated for effect and entertainment purposes…I think if you’ve never been in a relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, then Following the blog of a Narcissist, won’t make any difference to you. It’ll inspire and entertain and that’s that. But what if you’re recovering from a relationship with a Narcissist and you follow a blog which is powered by Narcissistic Personality Disorder?” ~An Upturned Soul

There’s a distinction between trait narcissism as measured in social network studies and the “destructive narcissism” we discuss on blogs about pathology (clinical disorders). How normal narcissists affect readers and society is fascinating, too; but for today, my focus is on the impact destructive-to-pathological narcissists have on others and how we might inform ourselves before we’re harmed. So my answer to Ursula’s question is that yes, it can be dangerous if vulnerable people are “following” someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

My short answer is this: narcissist’s unstable self-esteem and grandiosity is hyper-sensitive to ego threats. Narcissists are more willing to use aggression than non-narcissists. (Bushman) Narcissists are particularly likely to displace their aggression on innocent bystanders. (Buffardi) Good people serve as scapegoats because they limit the degree of harm they’re willing to inflict on others. Their private emails may be posted publicly, private pictures may be circulated on the net, hate blogs may be written—all in the narcissist’s attempt to regulate self-esteem by destroying others. If you have befriended an online narcissist, you will eventually say something perceived to be an insult and you may be treated more cruelly than you were by the narcissist propelling you to the Internet.

And my long answer is the following. Pack a lunch. This is complicated.

Read the rest of the article here: http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/2014/01/21-signs-of-online-destructive.html

Also Read Part 2 of Online Narcissists: A Case Study Called Puppygate.
http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/2014/02/online-narcissists-case-study-called.html

The dumbing down of the Internet

google
Even Bart Simpson knows what’s going on.

Up until 9/11 and its aftermath, and especially since the twin-monster births of Facebook and Twitter (and their older retarded brother MySpace), the Internet was like being set loose in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s or Paris during the 1920s and 1930s.

Ever since Facebook, Twitter and other major corporate-run websites came along and steamrolled the entire web, visiting the Internet is more like taking tours of the world’s most depressing slums with weekends spent in Disneyland.

When my worlds collide.

Worlds_Collide___Phaeton___by_Meckie
Worlds Collide-Phaeton: by Meckie at Deviantart.com

I have lived in several different online worlds at different times of my life, each as remote from each other as the Milky Way is from The Great Magellanic Cloud. They may even inhabit different cyber-universes. But on Facebook, these universes have a disturbing and slightly eerie way of all melding together into a single, writhing, freaky ass clusterf*ck.

I recently became somewhat active on Facebook again, even though I really can’t stand it. This happened because I decided to start linking my blog posts there (it does help visibility), and, well, you start poking around looking at stuff and before you know it, you’re updating your status and talking to people who want to comment about your updates.

One thing that always happens that drives me insane, but is really sort of cool when you think about it, is when people from different areas of my life start conversing because they’re both my Facebook friends and they both wind up commenting about something I posted.

My friend Kevin, from a political/history forum I used to be active on (the site has become pretty much overrun by trolls but has a FB page now) got into a heated debate with another friend of mine I just met because she’s active on Sam Vaknin’s page. They got into a discussion over the religious implications of malignant narcissism and whether or not Vaknin would be saved by the Holy Spirit. It was an interesting if somewhat strange conversation. I got a kind of odd thrill from seeing two people from completely different compartments/timeframes of my online life get to know each other on my wall.

Okay, I admit it. It’s cool as hell.

I always wondered about the freakiness of my worlds colliding. When different areas of my life–or different times–somehow “meet” it’s very freaky. They don’t belong together.

This reminds me of when I was about 4. I was in the grocery store with my mother, and suddenly a woman appeared with a cart of groceries and started speaking to my mom…she was MY TEACHER and I started crying because it scared me because THE GROCERY STORE was where you bought GROCERIES and the TEACHER BELONGED IN SCHOOL so what in the name of all that is holy was my teacher doing in the GROCERY STORE?
It’s a little like that, but not scary or upsetting, because I’m not 4…..but its still weird.

That’s one of the reasons why Facebook scares me. It makes me wary and inhibited about posting ir some things or sharing certain blog posts there. There’s some topics I like to keep separate from people who inhabit one of my other universes. Why that is, I can’t explain. I don’t know myself well enough to explain why I have this strange neurosis about my worlds touching. Is this some bizarro world cyberspace version of a kid who freaks out because the gravy on their plate is touching their peas?

mixing_them

Most disturbing (but really just more annoying) of all is constantly seeing updates from old coworkers I lost contact with years ago and having friends I don’t recognize because I can’t remember why I added them or where I knew them from. Also many members of my FOO post on FB too but I have quietly defriended most of them. I HATE mixing my IRL life with my online one.

Aspies rule the Internet!

aspie_quote

My fellow ACON blogger Fivehundredpoundpeep, posted this the other day.

From the girl with curly hair…
Aspies are knowledge junkies. We can become Internet addicts because the Internet is like crack for us. I study many things for the fun of it. You all see what I write on this blog but this week, I read about True Crimes in my state, Indian nations in America and Outsider Art.

There was never anything truer than this. In my many years of prowling and posting on the Internet, Aspies do seem more numerous than they do IRL. On a forum I used to be active on, Aspies seemed almost proud to say they were Aspie, as if it’s an advantage on the Internet instead of a liability. But guess what. It just may be!

We do tend to become obsessed with one or two topics at a time and focus intensely on them to the point others sometimes think we are weird (the extreme form of this is the idiot savant phenomenon seen in low functioning people with autism). That’s why I blog! Because if I just talked about the stuff I talk about here IRL as much as I do on my blog, people would be backing away slowly and locking their doors and windows against the crazy woman on the loose.

We read a lot and gain a very deep knowledge of what interests us. We read anything we can about our obsessions until we’re sated or the next obsession takes over. We have good memories and retain new information well. These traits can give us some credibility in whatever topic we focus on in our blogs. I think that’s a good thing. Our obsessing over topics and spending so much time researching and reading about the minutiae of that focused interest may seem strange to neurotypicals, but it’s hurting no one, so why is it a problem?

The Internet is the perfect modality for most people with Aspergers. It allows us to have a platform to talk about our obsessions instead of having to engage in shallow conversation or small talk (which I hate and am very bad at). It even allows us to start a conversation about our pet topic and the metaphysical, meaningful aspects of that topic. People can think we are weird or insane, but we don’t have to deal with those judgmental NT’s face to face. There are plenty more people online who actually like what we have to say and listen to us.

We also have time to think about and refine what we want to say. We’re not required to “think on our feet,” something which is very difficult for Aspies. We don’t have to have a witty comeback for a joke or know exactly the right or appropriate thing to say when confronted by something.

Because our problem isn’t really that we lack social skills. I think for most of us, the problem is that we need time to process an interaction, and you can’t do that in real life social situations. Writing is just as valid a form of social interaction as speaking, and it’s a modality most of us are much better at and even find we can excell at.

The Internet can make us feel more confident. It’s the one thing Aspies have going in their favor that we never had prior to the late 1990s. There’s also more general knowledge about Aspergers and it’s now acknowledged even adults can suffer from it. In the past, Aspergers wasn’t even recognized as a high functioning form of autism. We were just the geeks and dorks and socially awkward outcasts and obsessive crazies of the world. When people used to think of autism, they thought of people so impaired and disconnected from the world they had to live in institutions and have all their needs met by caregivers. They didn’t think of socially awkward geeks and obsessives like me.

Now they do, and it’s because the Internet has given us Aspies a place to talk, to meet others like ourselves, to make friends, to vent and rant, and to protest against the prejudices neurotypicals have against us. We are really more a minority group like LGBT than we are “mentally ill.” (Homosexuality used to be considered a mental illness too–it was finally removed from the DSM in 1973).

The Aspie rights movement thinks of Aspieness as a variation rather than a disorder. We’re only “disabled” because our society isn’t set up to be adaptive to our needs. We are forced to adapt to theirs, and it ain’t easy! The Internet gives us a voice.

The chatterbox and the hermit.

shy_and_outgoing__by_cammy_senpai-d6ejdec
“Shy and Outgoing” by Cammy Senpai, Deviantart

I’m two different people.

Most of you already know what I’m like online. I made a vow to be completely honest and hold back nothing (within reason) and so I am doing. This has been a wonderful thing for me because it has given me courage (and takes courage!)

But I’ve always been outgoing online. I talk about the things that concern me, my feelings about them, my relationships, my mostly painful and sordid past. I tell you if I’m happy, sad or mad and I tell you why. I actively seek out friendships and post on other people’s blogs (when I can find the time since I’m always on this blog). I’ve become active on social media too, something I never thought I’d be. If anything, I’m probably a little too confessional!
On the web, I’m comfortable being completely myself and do not suffer from the shyness, shame or self-consciousness that plagues me IRL.

In the real world (which I prefer to call the physical world, because online life is every bit as real as any other form of interaction), I’m the opposite of the above. I suffer from both Aspergers (which I was most likely born with) and Avoidant Personality Disorder, brought on by abuse and always feeling off balance because of my MN mother and my enabling, alcoholic father, not to mention being a frequent target for school bullies.

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From “What’s In It For Me?” on Zombie Shuffle’s blog.

In the physical world, I’m a very different person than the one you know online. Although I have the same emotions (which I talk about here), I don’t discuss them openly or even at all. I have few friends, am not close with anyone in my family other than my children, and prefer the company of myself, my books, or my pets to that of other people. Lots of noise and large groups of chattering people are very triggering to me, and I find myself tensing up and retreating if possible.

Most people know very little about me. I don’t say much, I rarely initiate conversation, and am very shy. Some people think I am cold and aloof; others think I am just stupid. I’m neither, but my avoidant personality makes me seem unfriendly or insecure. My Aspergers makes me seem awkward which exacerbates my problems relating to people.

I am terrified of intimacy and romantic relationships. After a long, abusive marriage and 7 more years of hell living with him after we divorced, I think I’ve had enough. I don’t trust men enough or trust my own judgment enough to dare take the plunge again into a new relationship. I also feel like my age is a problem, even though I look far younger than I am. I haven’t had sex in 9 years and really, that’s not a problem for me. I like the idea of having a relationship again (who really wants to die alone?), but I don’t know if I could cope with the reality of one. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen though. It just scares the living daylights out of me.

I can’t stand talking on the phone and a ringing phone is very triggering for me: I always expect to hear bad news. I know it’s just my hypervigilance, but I can’t help my reaction whenever the phone rings. As far as talking on the phone, it’s just awkward because I can’t pick up nuances in speech (due to my Aspergers) which is made worse by the fact I can’t see their facial expressions or body language. I try to end phone conversations as quickly as possible, which makes people think I’m unfriendly or don’t want to talk to them.

I don’t connect well IRL with most people, although I do get along with most. I’m not hard to get along with, just hard to get to know.

Blogging has enabled me to open up and be the self I want to be. It’s enhanced my self esteem and my creativity. Being courageous enough to post the sort of things I post gives me even more courage. Journaling online to complete strangers has helped me understand a lot of things I never used to understand and it’s even helping me develop more empathy.

But this isn’t the Matrix and I can’t live inside my online world all the time. I do think, however, that my increased self esteem and self awareness will soon translate into my relations with the real world. In fact, I’ve been told I seem more relaxed, happier, and more confident than I used to be, even though my extreme reservedness remains. I smile and laugh more. Most people do seem to like me, even though they can’t get to know me well. They have no idea the shy, mysterious, taciturn woman who tends to clam up in social situations or avoid them altogether actually runs a blog where she talks about the most personal issues it’s possible to talk about.

A vast wasteland.

Wasteland-03-Digital-Illustration-by-Atelier-Olschinsky
Wasteland 03 by Atelier Olschinsky

I remember when forums were a thing. So much has changed in the past 5-10 years, with the proliferation of social media and the enormous popularity of Big Brother Facebook, which started its unholy takeover of the Internet in 2008. Twitter is getting almost as bad.

Forums still exist, but most of them are dead or dying. The last one I posted on was about a year ago. It was a political/history related forum that had been in existence since 1997. I started posting there in 1999, and was on-again, off-again for the next 13 years. That forum (as far as I know) is still in existence, but when its only moderator left and was never replaced, the site was overtaken by trolls who proceeded to destroy the site by running off its regular members. Last time I was there, it was a shell of what it once was. There were about 3 intelligent people still posting there. I had to leave; it had become mind numbingly boring and too sad to stick around.

Another forum I used to be active on has about a tenth of the activity it once did. All you can hear is the crickets there now.

I see this sort of thing happening all over the web. The Internet is littered with dead and dying forums. They’re a thing of the past, really a relic of the last century, when the Internet was still new and social media was still just someone’s bright idea. They remained popular during the first decade of this century, but seemed to start their decline in about 2007-8, when Facebook made its debut. As content management systems became easier for the average person to use, blogging gained popularity too. Blogs are probably as numerous (if not more numerous) than forums were 8-10 years ago.

I always liked forums because of the way they were organized by topic, but they did have their problems. Blogging is more appealing and much more creative and rewarding for a writer than posting on forums is. You don’t have to worry about going against the status quo because you have an “unpopular opinion.” You don’t have to censor your language (although I try to use decorum). You don’t really have to worry about bullies ganging up on you or trolls invading or hacking into your site. Moderators weren’t always your friend either; sometimes they even sided with the bullies.

The Internet is a mess with the debris of dead forums, but there’s also a wealth of information on them if you look. It’s fascinating to read a decade-old thread about a topic that interests you, and you might find out some things you never would have known otherwise. Reading old forums is like reading the memoir of someone who has passed on. You can learn so much. It’s incredible how fast history moves on the web.

Remember this sound?

Dial-up Internet. Free AOL CD-Roms that came by snail mail and everyone threw away. Remember how slow and inefficient the Internet was? There was no Youtube, no Facebook, no Twitter, barely any photos. Remember when Telnet chatrooms (“talkers”) served the same purpose that Twitter and texting do today? When Email was cool and cutting edge–and Hotmail was the coolest of all? Remember Mosaic and Netscape?

Those days weren’t so long ago. But in the digital universe, it was eons ago. How far we have come since those prehistoric days. Where will we be in another 20 years?

Narcissism on the Internet: what Vaknin has to say

Narcissistic? Me?

Oh, hell. I’m going to milk this thing for all it’s worth at the moment. I admit it, I want this upward momentum to keep going for a little bit longer.

Let me start by confessing I’m just a wee bit star-struck because a somewhat famous person who writes about narcissism gave me validation and in doing so helped my blog become more visible, even though he’s a narcissist and we victims are all too aware what no-good gaslighting, manipulating, triangulating mind-fuckers narcissists are. I must remember that he IS a narc and is NOT my friend. I must not allow a few crumbs of flattery to somehow suck me into becoming some kind of online narcissistic supply to this man. I gotta keep it real.

But no worries: in a day or so (if not my next post), I’ll return to my regular scheduled programming and write a fluff post about something like kittens or a rant about fracking or toenail fungus.

In my second blog article about Sam Vaknin, he commented (when asked) that he did, in fact, Google himself (hey, don’t we all?) and that’s how he finds out which bloggers are writing about him. He provided an explanation as to why he looks himself up on Google and linked to his website. I decided to repost his journal entry because there’s a whole Pandora’s box of truth here, and whether we like it or not, there’s a little or even a lot of Narcissist in all of us who blog and find ourselves giddy with excitement when our blogs get views, likes, comments, or suddenly take off like 4th of July firecrackers.

WARNING: In typical Vaknin fashion, this post is extremely long winded. That said, it’s definitely worth your time to read the whole thing. There’s some great insights here that still apply today even though it appears to have been written some years ago.

Cyber (Internet) Narcissists and Psychopaths

To the narcissist, the Internet is an alluring and irresistible combination of playground and hunting grounds, the gathering place of numerous potential Sources of Narcissistic Supply, a world where false identities are the norm and mind games the bon ton. And it is beyond the reach of the law, the pale of social norms, the strictures of civilized conduct.

Indeed, many of the innovators who gave us the Internet and social networks can easily be described as narcissistic. Technology did not invent or even foster narcissism – rather, it was driven by it: an increasingly narcissistic populace demanded empowerment, self-expression, self-gratification, and self-aggrandisement via gadgets and software applications that catered to its pathology.

The somatic finds cyber-sex and cyber-relationships aplenty. The cerebral claims false accomplishments, fake skills, erudition and talents. Both, if minimally communicative, end up at the instantly gratifying epicenter of a cult of fans, followers, stalkers, erotomaniacs, denigrators, and plain nuts. The constant attention and attendant quasi-celebrity feed and sustain their grandiose fantasies and inflated self-image.

The Internet is an extension of the real-life Narcissistic Pathological Space but without its risks, injuries, and disappointments. It allows the narcissist to enact and act out his grandiose fantasies of omnipotence and omnipotence, brilliance and perfection, self-righteousness and superiority with impunity.
Many moderators and owners of discussion groups and support forums, for instance, are tyrannical narcissistic bullies with little or no impulse control and the tendency to form cult-like settings where the wayward are sadistically penalized and publicly humiliated by peers for speaking out of turn and in contravention of the “party line.”

In the virtual universe of the Web, the narcissist vanishes and reappears with ease, often adopting a myriad aliases and nicknames. He (or she) can thus fend off criticism, abuse, disagreement, and disapproval effectively and in real time – and, simultaneously, preserve the precarious balance of his infantile personality. Narcissists are, therefore, prone to Internet addiction.

The positive characteristics of the Net are largely lost on the narcissist. He is not keen on expanding his horizons, fostering true relationships, or getting in real contact with other people. The narcissist is forever the provincial because he filters everything through the narrow lens of his addiction. He measures others – and idealizes or devalues them – according to one criterion only: how useful they might be as Sources of Narcissistic Supply.

The Internet is an egalitarian medium where people are judged by the consistency and quality of their contributions rather than by the content or bombast of their claims. But the narcissist is driven to distracting discomfiture by a lack of clear and commonly accepted hierarchy (with himself at the pinnacle). He fervently and aggressively tries to impose the “natural order” – either by monopolizing the interaction or, if that fails, by becoming a major disruptive influence.

But the Internet may also be the closest many narcissists get to psychodynamic therapy. Because it is still largely text-based, the Web is populated by disembodied entities. By interacting with these intermittent, unpredictable, ultimately unknowable, ephemeral, and ethereal voices – the narcissist is compelled to project unto them his own experiences, fears, hopes, and prejudices.

Transference (and counter-transference) are quite common on the Net and the narcissist’s defence mechanisms – notably projection and Projective Identification – are frequently aroused. The therapeutic process is set in motion by the – unbridled, uncensored, and brutally honest – reactions to the narcissist’s repertory of antics, pretensions, delusions, and fantasies.

The narcissist – ever the intimidating bully – is not accustomed to such resistance. Initially, it may heighten and sharpen his paranoia and lead him to compensate by extending and deepening his grandiosity. Some narcissists withdraw altogether, reverting to the schizoid posture. Others become openly antisocial and seek to subvert, sabotage, and destroy the online sources of their frustration. A few retreat and confine themselves to the company of adoring sycophants and unquestioning groupies.

But a long exposure to the culture of the Net – irreverent, skeptical, and populist – usually exerts a beneficial effect even on the staunchest and most rigid narcissist. Far less convinced of his own superiority and infallibility, the online narcissist mellows and begins – hesitantly – to listen to others and to collaborate with them.

Ultimately, most narcissists – those who are not schizoid and shun social contact – tire of the virtual reality that is cyberspace. The typical narcissist needs “tangible” narcissistic supply. He craves attention from real, live, people, flesh and blood. He strives to see in their eyes their admiration and adulation, the awe and fear that he inspires, the approval and affirmation that he elicits.

There is no substitute to human contact, even for the narcissist. Many narcissists try to carry online relationships they nurtured into their logical extension and conclusion offline. Other burst upon the cyber scene intermittently, vanishing for long months, only to dive back in and reappear, reinvigorated. Reality beckons and few narcissists resist its siren call.

Narcissists, Social Media, and Porn

Social media, such as Tumblr.com, have become the playground of narcissists, psychopaths, and sadists who post extreme and, at times, illegal porn and revel in the reactions to it, thus garnering vicarious narcissistic supply. Via such postings, they express their rabid misogyny by objectifying women and subjecting them to humiliating subjugation and to aggression bordering on outright violence.

Yahoo and Tumblr’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, some of the content is illegal and can land even an accidental viewer in hot waters. Relatively innocuous search terms such as “family”, “wife”, “sister”, or “daddy” often yield sleazy and actionable photo and video results, displayed automatically on the user’s screen and saved to his or her browser cache without any warning or consent. Tumblr is not alone in this. Twitter and Facebook, although to a lesser degree, also host porn on a massive scale.

Porn addiction ties well with the narcissist’s fantasy sex life. Social media enable and legitimize a host of sexual fetishes and paraphilias, including pedophilia. Via these platforms, the narcissist finds an eager audience and a sense of empowerment and immunity, aided and abetted by his anonymity.

Interview granted to Misty Harris of CanWest on February 23, 2005

Q. How might technology be enabling narcissism, particularly for the Internet generation?

A. To believe that the Internet is an unprecedented phenomenon with unique social implications is, in itself, narcissistic. The Internet is only the latest in a long series of networking-related technological developments. By definition, technology is narcissistic. It seeks to render us omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent – in other words, Godlike.

The Internet allows us to replicate ourselves and our words (through vanity desktop publishing, blogs, and posting online content on Web sites), to playact our favorite roles, to communicate instantly with thousands (narrowcasting), to influence others, and, in general, to realize some of our narcissistic dreams and tendencies.

Q. Why is it a bad thing to have a high opinion of yourself?

A. It is not a bad thing if it is supported by commensurate achievements. If the gap between fantasy and reality is too big, a dysfunction that we call “pathological narcissism” sets in.

Q. What does it say about our culture that we encourage narcissistic characteristics in people? (example: Paris Hilton – we made her a star for loving herself)

A. Celebrity culture is not a new thing. It is not a culture-dependent phenomenon. Celebrities fulfil two emotional functions for their fans: they provide a mythical narrative (a story that the fan can follow and identify with) and they function as blank screens onto which the fans project their dreams, hopes, fears, plans, values, and desires (wish fulfilment).

Western culture emphasizes ambition, competitiveness, materialism, and individualism. These admittedly are narcissistic traits and give the narcissist in our society an opening advantage.

But narcissism exists in a different form in collectivist societies as well. As Theodore Millon and Roger Davis state in their seminal tome, “Personality Disorders in Modern Life”:

“In an individualistic culture, the narcissist is ‘God’s gift to the world’. In a collectivist society, the narcissist is ‘God’s gift to the collective'”.

Twitter: Narcissism or Age-old Communication?

It has become fashionable to castigate Twitter – the microblogging service – as an expression of rampant narcissism. Yet, narcissists are verbose and they do not take kindly to limitations imposed on them by third parties. They feel entitled to special treatment and are rebellious. They are enamored with their own voice. Thus, rather than gratify the average narcissist and provide him or her with narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, affirmation), Twitter is actually liable to cause narcissistic injury.

From the dawn of civilization, when writing was the province of the few and esoteric, people have been memorizing information and communicating it using truncated, mnemonic bursts. Sizable swathes of the Bible resemble Twitter-like prose. Poetry, especially blank verse one, is Twitterish. To this very day, newspaper headlines seek to convey information in digestible, resounding bits and bites. By comparison, the novel – an avalanche of text – is a newfangled phenomenon.

Twitter is telegraphic, but this need not impinge on the language skills of its users. On the contrary, coerced into its Procrustean dialog box, many interlocutors become inventive and creativity reigns as bloggers go atwitter.

Indeed, Twitter is the digital reincarnation of the telegraph, the telegram, the telex, the text message (SMS, as we Europeans call it), and other forms of business-like, data-rich, direct communication. Like them, it forces its recipients to use their own imagination and creativity to decipher the code and flesh it out with rich and vivid details. It is unlikely to vanish, though it may well be supplanted by even more pecuniary modes of online discourse.

Interview granted to Agencia Efe, Spain, April 2008

1. Does the Internet make a special amplification of narcissism or is just the reflection of reality? How, despite of the fact that many people is disturbed by the anonymous characters that you can adopt in the Internet, the exhibitionism is, maybe, more usual. I mean, in terms of narcissism? Can a person be addicted to the web because is own narcissism?

A. The narcissist likes to appear to be mysterious. It enhances his self-perceived sense of omnipotence, it renders him “unique” and “interesting”. The right moniker (Internet alias or handle) imbues the narcissist with a sense of immunity and superiority and permits him to commit the most daring or heinous acts.

2. What kind of lacks or necessities there are behind this behaviour? What are we expecting when we search our name on Google? Can we construct our image with the pieces of us in the internet?

A. The Internet is the hi-tech equivalent of a giant mirror. Like the mythical Narcissus, it allows us to fall in love with our reflection every day anew. We gaze into the depths of the Internet to reassure ourselves of our continuity and very existence. It is our modern photo album; a repository of snippets of our lives; and our external memory.

In psychoanalytic terms, the Internet replaces some of our ego functions: it regulates our sense of self-worth; puts us in touch with reality and with others; and structures our interactions (via its much vaunted peer-pressure of the Netiquette and the existence of editors and moderators).

We crave attention and feedback: proof positive that we matter, that someone cares about us, that we are not mere atoms in a disjointed and anomic Universe. In this sense, the Internet substitutes for God and many social functions by reassuring us that we fit into a World that, though amorphous and protean, is sustaining, predictable, constant, and nurturing. The Internet replaces our parents as a source of nourishment, support, caring, discipline, and omniscience.

3. In the case of the blogs, what’s the point in common in the idea of doing a private diary and be available for everybody?

A. I am not sure what you mean. Blogs are anything but private. They are explicitly meant for public consumption, thrive on public attention, and encourage interaction with the public (through the comments area). One can set one’s blog or online journal to “private”, though, as the hi-tech equivalent of a personal diary.

4. Internet, with their blogs, Facebook, Myspace or YouTube, has create the possibility of make yourself famous without promotion, just with the progressive diffusion of your material. Examples like the singers Mika and Lilly Allen or many bloggers, can it make a new way of realizing the “American dream” for the users of the Internet?

A. Being famous encompasses a few important functions: it endows us with power, provides us with a constant Source of Narcissistic Supply (admiration, adoration, approval, awe), and fulfils important Ego functions.

The Internet caters to our narcissistic traits and propensities and allows us to become “celebrities-by-replication”. The image that the blogger or artist projects is hurled back at him, reflected by those exposed to his instant celebrity or fame. By generating multiple copies of himself and his work, he feels alive, his very existence is affirmed and he acquires a sensation of clear boundaries (where he ends and the world begins).

There is a set of narcissistic behaviours typical to the pursuit of celebrity. There is almost nothing that the Net celebrity refrains from doing, almost no borders that he hesitates to cross to achieve renown. To him (or, increasingly, her), there is no such thing as “bad publicity”: what matters is to be in the public eye at any price.

Because narcissistic individuals equally enjoy all types of attention and like as much to be feared as to be loved, for instance – they don’t mind if what is published about them is wrong (“as long as they spell my name correctly”). The celebrity blogger or artist experiences bad emotional stretches only when he lacks attention, or publicity.

It is then that some bloggers, artists, and Webmasters plot, contrive, plan, conspire, think, analyse, synthesise and do whatever it takes to regain the lost exposure in the public eye. The more they fail to secure the attention of the target group (preferably, the entire Internet community), the more daring, eccentric and outlandish they become. A firm decision to become known is transformed into resolute action and then to a panicky pattern of attention seeking behaviours.

It is important to understand that the blogger/artist/Webmaster are not really interested in publicity per se. They appear to be interested in becoming a celebrity, but, in reality, they are concerned with the REACTIONS to their newly-acquired fame: people watch them, notice them, talk about them, debate their actions – therefore they exist.

5. There are many new applications to feed human narcissism on the net: Googlefight, Egosurf.org, the blogs themselves… Could be used narcissism as a business?

A. Every good business is founded on the mass psychology of its clientele. In a narcissistic civilization, business is bound to adapt and become increasingly more narcissistic. The Internet started off as an information exchange. The surge of (mainly American) users transformed it in profound ways. User-generated “content” is a thin veneer beneath which lurks the seething and pathological narcissism of the masses. Narcissism is our main business organizing principle outside the Internet as well: cosmetics, fashion, health, publishing, show business, the media, and the financial industries all rest on firm narcissistic foundations. The management class itself is highly narcissistic!

6. Can be satisfied the true and pathologic narcissism just with the feed-back on the Internet or it needs, finally, to put in “real” his power of attraction.

A. What’s not real about the Internet? This dichotomy between virtual and real is false. The Internet is as real as it gets and, for many of its users, it is the only reality and the only frame of reference. It is “reality” as we used to know it that is gradually vanishing and being replaced by “virtual” substitutes: print media are dying and giving way to blogs and online news aggregators; iTunes and Napster and BitTorrent and eMule are ruining the very physical music CD; there is more published on the Internet than is available in many brick and mortar libraries, and so on.

7. Could presence or non-presence in Internet create a new kind of social class?

A. Like every other social phenomenon, the Internet gave rise to a stratified society with hackers, crackers, nerds, geeks, Wikipedians, bloggers, etc. occupying various niches. Not using the Internet – a kind of Internet Luddism – may yet become a badge of honor. Internet addicts may become either outcasts or the new elite. Who knows? Everything digital is still in its formative years and still in flux.

8. How dangerous is narcissism, inside or outside the web?

A. Very dangerous. Just read the list of diagnostic criteria for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD): the narcissist lacks empathy, is arrogant, exploits people, is envious, has a strong and unjustified sense of entitlement, and is obsessive and delusional. Many narcissists are also psychopaths. Pathological narcissism is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders (a phenomenon called “co-morbidity”). Narcissists are over-represented among criminals, gamblers, and people with reckless and inconsiderate behaviors.

Interview granted to About.com about Online Dating

1. In your opinion, why does the Internet seem to be an easy forum to fall in love?

A. Frequently, in online dating, the partners are treated as “blank screens” onto which the online dater projects her dreams, wishes, and unfulfilled needs and yearnings. The Internet allows the two sides to maintain an emotionally riskless intercourse by fully controlling the interaction with their interlocutors or correspondents. While thoroughly gratified, they are less likely to get hurt and feel less vulnerable because they invest – emotionally and otherwise – far less than in a full-fledged, “real” life liaison. Of course, they are usually disappointed when they try to flesh out their online fantasy by moving the relationship offline, “down to earth” and into “brick-and-mortar” venues.

2. Despite an online relationship being made up of text messages and pictures, why does it seem people more easily get into Internet relationships than they do in real life?

A. “Internet relationship” is an oxymoron. A relationship entails the existence of a physical dimension, time spent together, friction and conflict, the satisfaction of all the senses, and experiences shared. IM, chat, webcams, and the like can seemingly bring people closer and create the illusion of intimacy, but actually it is a narcissistic sham, an echo chamber, a simulacrum. People “fall in love” with their own reflections and with idealized partners, not with the real items. Their counterparty is merely a peg on which they hang their desire for closeness, a sounding board. It is like watching a film: one can be moved to tears by what is happening on the screen, but very few confuse the flickering lights with reality itself.

3. What dangers are there in falling in love online?

A. Online “love” is not love at all and, therefore, it is less prone to heartbreak and disappointment. The parties fully control their side of the interaction and limit it at will. The information exchanged is doctored and there is no way of verifying it (for instance, by paying attention to body language and social cues). Online “love” is more akin to infatuation, comprised of equal measures fantasy and narcissism. The parties fall in love with the idea of falling in love: the actual online partner is rather incidental. The extant technology dictates the solipsistic and self-centered nature of these exchanges.
Online dating is inherently unsafe as it affords no way to ascertain the identity of your interlocutor or correspondent. When you date online, you are missing out on critical information such as your potential partner’s body language; the pattern of his social interactions; his behavior in unexpected settings and circumstances; his non-scripted reactions; even his smell and how he truly looks, dresses, and conducts himself in public and in private. The dangers, like in real life, is when one comes across a predator: a psychopath, a stalker, or a bully. Click on this link to learn how to avoid these people: How to Recognize a Narcissist or Psychopath Before It is Too Late?

4. What tips can you share with readers who have fallen in love online and have been burnt by the rejection of a breakup online who might do it again?

A. The Internet is merely a sophisticated, multimedia communication channel, a glorified videophone. “Distance relationships” don’t work. Real, lasting, emotionally-rewarding relationships that lead to happiness and personal growth require propinquity, familiarity, intimacy, and sacrifices. Don’t make the Internet your exclusive dating venue and don’t use it to shield you from life itself . Deploy it merely to find information and reach out and, on the first opportunity, log off and go out there to confront multidimensional reality with all its complexity and ambiguities. Do not use the Internet to fend off potential hurt: there is no growth without pain and no progress without experience.

5. Despite some problems, do you think the Internet should be sworn off as a means of finding love?
A. Online dating is a great tool for people who, for various reasons, have limited access to other dating options or venues where you can date “real” people face-to-face, instead of mere avatars.