Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Premise of Modern Narcissism

Here is a New York Times article about how narcissism, in word and in meaning, is being thrown around a lot more nowadays. From pop-culture icons to everyone having a Facebook, or the equivalent time-wasting web apps out there, the article deems that all of these are fair game for being labeled as narcissistic. It then goes on to talk about how the idea of one being narcissistic has changed in recent years.

It made me wonder just how narcissistic I and everyone else that have blogs can be considered to be. We are, in all actuality, writing in the hopes that people out in the internet care about what we have to say regarding anything at all. We wish for our voices to be heard and take great joy - and in some cases pleasure - when we see others react our thoughts, for ill or for good.

So this begs the question, How do I make this so-called narcissism a positive thing? How can taking a deep rooted interest in my self not only appeal to others, but maybe help someone in some form - be it aiding in developing thoughts and disscussions, teaching others, etc? While this may be a futile attempt at justifying whatever egoistical reasons I have for keeping this blog running for the past 9 or 10 months, I like to think that some of my posts at least responds to those questions. While I can't say the same for the other online social mediums I partake in, I pride myself on the difference I try to estabish the line between the two.


  1. I think your blog is about the ideas that interest you and things you discover. You put a lot of yourself into it, but it's not really narcissism like a facebook page (or people putting themselves on HotOrNot).

    Your blog also seems to help you receive ideas from other people (in faraway places, even :-)). I think an outward focus like that is a kind of antidote for narcissism.

  2. Yea, hopefully this "carnival" thing will help promote such an antidote. It'll be sort of sad if this thing is actually ill-fated from the start...

    I think in an argument about what medium of online social contact is better, I would say blogs. At least then it forces most people into thinking. Though there are times that people can fall through the cracks to stupidity.

  3. I wouldn't worry too much about the fate of the blog carnival. It's an interesting experiment which can't really do any harm. So even if it doesn't turn out the way you want it to you'll learn something about the requirements and limits of blog collaboration.

  4. The dictionary defines narcissism as: "Psychology extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type."

    There is something bold in starting a blog--the idea, that one has something to say and putting it out there for others. What might stay inside your head or said to friends over a meal becomes part of an extended, public conversation on the internet. I think Will Richardson said that blogs are basically conversations--ways for us to share our thoughts, connect with one another and ideally, increase our understanding. It's worth remembering that Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and was changed into a flower. So long as there's an exchange going on--looking out into the world and letting the world in, I'm not sure that the narcissistic label applies.

  5. Ah, so the exchange of ideas is the saving grace. I suppose thats an other reason why I love blogs - that "trading" of intellectual currency. I think we should call of this the stock market of ideas. We see which ideas flourish and everyone take claim and investment in them and we see which ideas burn and die out. Those ideas then translate to the very lively hood of the blog that harbors them and in the end they seem to share the same fate. At least thats what I've noticed from my trolling of the web.

    But anyways since I'm getting off the point, there is something undoubtably enjoyable from bringing our ideas to the forefront for discussion. And for that reason I think its a good idea to be mindful of just how and why one chooses to even be involved in the process to begin with. Is it to receive attention or for the direct benefit of the conversation?

  6. I'd say that exchange is the least narcissistic/egotistic feature of blogs, but it's not the only positive one.

    Blogs can motivate bloggers to experience more interesting things for the purpose of sharing. For example, I wasn't sure I could get out of bed in time to watch the Bastille Day parade a couple weeks ago, but knowing I would be able to blog about it gave me extra motivation to get up and go.

    Another positive feature a blog can offer is subjective filtering. For example, Alive in Paris has given some photos to the Weekly Mobile Goodies blog (see ), which turns photos from the web (mainly public domain) into mobile wallpapers. The filtering there is narrowing down the huge number of photos on the web that could be turned into mobile wallpapers and reducing it to a small number each week that the blogger considers worthy of your time. Every blog that references some pieces of external content (articles, vocabulary, images, videos, etc.) is doing at least a bit of this kind of filtering.

    A lot of my favorite blogs also offer some kind of expertise. Seth Godin and Joel Spolsky for example, are accomplished experts in their fields who also happen to write really well.

    And, to be exhaustive, blogs can also offer also humor, beauty, whatever special thing the blogger has to offer. The Bible says "Don't hide your light under a bushel", so I think a blog is worth the risk of occasional bouts of narcissism if it lets one express the best of oneself.

    BTW, I see this NASDAQ visit made an impression on you, Ryan. :-) I suppose the blogosphere is a sort of market of ideas, where people pay with their time.