Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Rise of Narcissism

Narcissism --an inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity. Freud would have described it as erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.

Recently it was reported that the level of clinical narcissism among college age students had doubled over the past 15 years to 34 percent! That is an incredibly high percentage but it has been confirmed across the country.

So, what does that mean and how could that happen? Well, in my mind it fits in beautifully with some of my earlier posts about the sense of entitlement that young adults display on a regular basis.

But I think I have an idea about one of the main reasons behind this incredible increase in narcissism...and the answer lies right here, on the web.

About 20 years ago when I was doing full time consulting I interviewed a woman who had just completed her masters degree. She was looking for a position in corporate training. At that time people starting out in that field were making an annual salary of around $30,000. During the interview I asked her what level of pay she was expecting in her first job and without pause she said, "At least $50,000!"  I had to do my best to keep from laughing out loud. As we talked further it was clear that she had obtained a false sense of worth while completing her graduate degree. Her professors told her how incredibly bright and marketable she was. But I knew she would learn the reality of the situation soon enough. At the time I was surprised at how out of touch she was with reality. But that is nothing compared to people today.

But today people are being mislead into a false sense of self-worth on a regular basis. And the internet is to blame to a large degree.

Think of it this way...the average college student believes that it is perfectly normal to report hourly to the world what he/she is doing. And they actually believe that the rest of the world truly cares! And it is not just college age people either...I have friends on my Facebook page who report such things as: heading to the store, driving my car, done with work for the week, home alone, just teed off the 8th hole, leaving the golf course now, etc. And they think that all their "friends" on Facebook really want to know all of that.

But think of all the other ways that we are given a false sense of self-worth on the internet...

--Five years ago a web page was a big deal. Today everyone has one.

--Before YouTube it was difficult to post a video on the internet, now it is so easy anyone can do it. So we can show everyone our lives in video. It seems like YouTube has been here forever, but it is only about five years old!

--In addition to Facebook there are blogs and Twitter. And I am sure it will not stop.

It wasn't long ago that instant messaging seemed amazing. Now we can share our lives minute by minute with the rest of the world...and that MUST prove that I am important...right?

Well, doesn't it?  Hello?

 The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of EntitlementDo you hear me out there???!!!

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