On narcissism

The longer I’ve been blogging, the more I can’t help but think that it’s essentially a narcissistic pursuit. Which is not to say that’s the case with all blogging: in fact, it seems to me that well-defined blog projects can be the opposite. My sister-in-law posts entries about her kids so that those of us at a distance can watch them grow up. A number of blogs have evolved into online magazines with huge readerships that then become full-time employment for their founders. Mrs. Blandings had a recent post on blogging (and moving) that described her interesting trajectory.

I don’t have much of a readership (sorry Alex), and I do next to nothing to drive traffic to my blog (it’s even buried in my FB, for example). This is in contrast to the sorts of people who are out there making bland non-comments on, say, The Sartorialist, for the sole purpose of linking to their sure-to-be-mind-numbing blogs. I’m allowing myself to occupy the moral high ground here, but honestly, if the purpose of putting content out there is for that content to be consumed, then why not promote your activities?

A new study about Facebook and narcissism has been getting a lot of press. It concludes that “individuals higher in narcissism and lower in self-esteem were related to greater online activity as well as some self-promotional content.” An example of self-promotional content on FB was the celebrity look-alike quiz that circulated for a while. But what’s really interesting to me about this study is that it’s looking at the idea of a curated online identity. Wouldn’t you think this would be the polar opposite of the online community-building ideal, authenticity?

I’d guess yes. Which is why, I suppose, that despite how active so many people are online, there’s a comparative few that have astronomical success, a large contingent with middling success, and then the rest of us.

Earlier this week, I watched this A.S. Byatt interview on the Guardian, in which she suggests that people are drawn to these online mediums in our increasingly secular world as a way to defend or assert their existences. Interesting stuff, though I’m not sure what to do with it just yet.

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5 responses to “On narcissism

  1. I tried posting a comment, but it isn’t showing up.

  2. I can read your comment indicating that your original comment isn’t showing up. I have no idea what that might signify.

  3. Narcissism is something I am trying to get a handle on. One of the blogs I read talks alot about it:

    This guy has alot of interesting stuff to say, and I do not know how to fit it into my thinking. He uses Narcissism in a broader way, framing it as the social ill of our times. One way to approach it is from the old man yelling at the youth trope. It is common enough that this happens, and I can see it as a psychological reaction to the changes of society. In that sense it can be a reflection of the life history of an individual and a record of his cultures change over time.

    I wouldn’t worry about your blog being a worthless pursuit. It would be narcissistic if you constructed an imaginary audience in your mind, but if you are honest than there is no foul. Even if it is merely a record of your thoughts, that is perfectly legitimate. Those examples you give of successful blogs are even more prone to the attack, are they creating a reciprocal fetish relationship between audience and publisher founded on mutual self delusion. I don’t know but it is an argument that I have found in another blog I read:

  4. It won’t let me post the addresses I wanted to link to.

    anyway they are:

    The Last Psychologist
    Ryan Holiday

  5. Whenever I put a web address in a comment it wouldn’t show up. I don’t know exactly what is happening, maybe it thinks I am trying to link spam.

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