Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Attention Millennials; Yes You Are Narcissists. No, That Doesn't Make You Special

Gamma has had another name for sometime of course.

Malignant Narcissist. 

It's all there.  The inflated self esteem.  The dishonesty.  The grandiose exhibitionism, as the psych majors call it.

And boy oh boy do the Millennials have it.

A 2010 study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that the percentage of college students exhibiting narcissistic personality traits, based on their scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a widely used diagnostic test, has increased by more than half since the early 1980s, to 30 percent. In their book “Narcissism Epidemic” 

For those that are wondering a massive and quantifiable rise in something that has always been viewed as a personality disorder is not a good thing.

This is hardly news to any Gen Xer that has to manage Millennials. Even in the military the problems of managing a generation of special little snowflakes has become a critical epidemic. The ridiculous need of the Millennials for constant praise of even the most routine tasks is well known at this point.

A lot it of it has to do with the Millennial's lack of Survival Urgency combined with being raised as a generation of princes. But that will have to be another post.

This is bad enough but Narcissism feeds off of affirmative reinforcement like a fat chick at an ice cream factory.

And nothing provides this accelerant like social media.

In case you were wondering why our culture suddenly seems to have hit the oil slick on it's downward slope of nihilism. This is it.

Twitter. Instagram. Facebook.

The unholy trinity of societal apocalypse.

Seriously folks. It's that much of a problem.

To solve the problem, we have to understand it. Philosophy helps us do so every bit as well as psychology. The 18th-century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote about “amour-propre,” a kind of self-love based on the opinions of others. He considered it unnatural and unhealthy, and believed that arbitrary social comparison led to people wasting their lives trying to look and sound attractive to others.

This would seem to describe our current epidemic. Indeed, in the Greek myth, Narcissus falls in love not with himself, but with his reflection. In the modern version, Narcissus would fall in love with his own Instagram feed, and starve himself to death while compulsively counting his followers.

If our egos are obese with amour-propre, social media can indeed serve up the empty emotional carbs we crave. Instagram and the like doesn’t create a narcissist...a near ideal platform to facilitate what psychologists call “grandiose exhibitionism.” No doubt you have seen this in others, and maybe even a little of it in yourself as you posted a flattering selfie — and then checked back 20 times for “likes.”

A healthy self-love that leads to true happiness is what Rousseau called “amour de soi.” It builds up one’s intrinsic well-being, as opposed to feeding shallow cravings to be admired. Cultivating amour de soi requires being fully alive at this moment, as opposed to being virtually alive while wondering what others think. The soulful connection with another person, the enjoyment of a beautiful hike alone (not shared on Facebook) or a prayer of thanks over your sleeping child (absent a #blessed tweet) could be considered expressions of amour de soi.

Well they've got no problem with self-love. That's a start. But it needs to be enveloped by something more infinitely more important.

Christian Humility.

The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…

… it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. -- C. S. Lewis

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