Social Media and Narcissism
Let’s get this out on the table right now. Our nation becomes by whom we are led. We have politicians, celebrities, and religious figures (You know which ones because rarely are they just known as one of those) who are, in a nutshell, narcissists.
A definition by writer Benjamin Wiker at National Catholic Register fits and avoids me having to reproduce the entire article:
Narcissists exhibit particular character traits. They typically have a grandiose sense of self-importance, require excessive admiration, engage in fantasies about their abilities and achievements, feel an overwhelming sense of entitlement, are arrogant and exploitive and, again, entirely lack empathy.
Wiker writes about an increasingly prevalent challenge in our society, exemplified by the actions of the Me Generation on new media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
Essentially, our children are growing up telling other kids and the parents who would like to give to them the knowledge and faith of eternity with God, “Look at how important I am. Tell me I’m important, and I might give you some attention back.”
This perversion of “The Customer is always right” maxim causes problems for the business owner and evangelist who put Jesus first – and no more so than with the first evangelist in a child’s life – the Man Husband Dad. While business owners wonder “how do I maintain a viable customer base without becoming one of them?” the Man Husband Dad has to get them to rise above their narcissism to see the importance of people, faith, love of neighbor, and God when they are bombarded on all sides with how important they are!
Children – and more increasingly young adults – are now being convinced that they have rights that have nothing to do with Natural Law, and it is feeding into their narcissistic attitude of “I”. Here’s the transcript of the commercial:
The miraculous is everywhere. In our homes, in our minds. We can share every second in data dressed as pixels. A billion roaming photojournalists ... Uploading the human experience. And it is spectacular. So why would you cap that? My iPhone 5 can see every point of view ... Every panorama. The entire gallery of humanity. I need to upload all of me. I need, no, I have the right to be unlimited. Only Sprint offers Truly Unlimited data for iPhone 5
The value in seeing this transcript is knowing that communicating with narcissists in order to get them to respond – to engage with you on a spiritual level – is actually possible.
But in a world where the very devices consumers are engaging each other on start with the letter “I”, it’s important to remember that, though it seems so new, the combat with narcissism is millennia old.
Don’t believe me?
How would you explain this, then?
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
No doubt you recognize this, from Luke 18: 9 – 14. Yep, even Jesus dealt with narcissism! The New Testament is replete with his admonishments on how to behave in such a way that it does not draw attention to oneself.
He saw the Pharisees as self-righteous and concerned with making themselves look good through their hypocritical application of the law; and nothing could be more narcissistic than the beliefs of the Sadducees, who believed there was no afterlife and therefore no eternal consequence – much like the atheist of today – and so lived life as their own god.
So, what did Jesus do? The same that He expects us to do for Him:
Do what is Right and True.
In the daily grind of life that can be tough. Sometimes it is easier to look the other way while one hand is doing what the other would not. Spiritually, by sometimes behaving as a totally different person online, or by not being our complete self, we rob Peter to pay Paul and hope that it is a minor infraction. Eventually, as time wears on, we become like Pharisees, hoping our own hypocrisy will not show.
But, unlike the Sadducees, we know there is an eternal consequence for our sin. We must reconcile this in our daily life and in our evangelization. And a presence on Social Media helps us do that.
Our Lord gives us more guidance in Matthew 10:19:
“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.”
Do you feel that tug that says you need to Man Husband Dad better, or that your message of evangelization needs to go further? Now is the hour and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit – as long as we are prayerfully paying attention – we will know what we are to say.
We all have a message from The Lord that He wants us to get out – to believers and non-believers, narcissists and humble folk alike. And we do it with what is Right and True in mind.
Together, you and I will turn the tide doing God’s Will by being Man Husband Dad both offline and on.
Jesus knew this age of narcissism would come at this time. And He knew we would be here at this time, too. Obviously, He wants us to do something with it, and about it.