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CONTENT (MODERN SOCIETY) Excerpts from “United States of Narcissism” (Newsweek 25 July 2011)

Imagine a person who does what he wants, regardless of how negatively it affects other people. He refuses to take responsibility for his own mistakes, and he believes he is unbeatable at anything he undertakes, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Sounds like a textbook narcissist, right ?

PHASES OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF NARCISSISM from the book “The Narcissism Epidemic” by Jean M.Twenge and W. Keith Campbell:
1960s – the origins of self-obsession, when people began to cast off societal constraints and expectations in favour of exploring their human potential
1970s – this movement morphed into self-admiration, self-expresion and self-absorption
1980s – those qualities gave way to self-centredness and self-indulgence

What are the levers in society that push us towards narcissism ?
1) Twitter feeds and Facebook updates offer endless opportunities for self-admiration
2) advertising that tells consumers “You’re worth it”
3) reality TV shows that turn regular people against each other in a battle for celebrity
4) With the fragmentation of the internet and media, people can more and more easily just expose themselves to information and perspectives that reinforce their own views. They ignore alternative feedback that challenge their self-image.

How does narcissism affect society at large ?
Americans are happy to spend rather than sacrifice, leaving future generations with the bill instead of accepting higher taxes themselves.
They prefer to bath in a sea of credit rather than crack down on the practices and institutions that have led to the financial crisis.
They prefer to receive tax breaks rather than invest in opportunities for future generations.

If social mobility continues to erode and narcissism increases,the nation will someday face tremendous economic and psychological costs. Crushing debts left by the Me Generation will fall upon a country ill-prepared for its economic future … Their narcissistic balloons finally burst.


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