Monday, October 12, 2009
Everybody Point to the Narcissist!
Did you hear about a Texas Tech coach who banned Twitter for his entire football team?
He claimed his ban was because "Twitter is for narcissists," though the ban was actually prompted by a player who tweeted that his coach was "late for his own meeting."
Texas Tech Coach
I don't use Twitter, myself, because I'm troubled by the way it works in our culture. Even so, I do not believe that Twitter is for narcissists.
Can some people be narcissistic on Twitter or Facebook or blogs or any other social media? Certainly. Here's a study that talks about that:
Social media is for narcissists
My theory is that much of the vanity in social media crops up among teens and twenty-somethings, whom our culture encourages toward endemic youthful self-absorption. I know this because I was pretty self-absorbed in my teens and early twenties! Like me, many of these young people will grow out of it as they take a few hard knocks and develop more compassion for others.
My personal experience with blogs and Facebook, however, hasn't shown me widespread narcissism. Most of my friends are in their thirties or older. They use social media to communicate with old friends and to build relationships with others.
Some of us use social media entrepreneurially. Writers, for example, hear repeatedly from every expert in the business that we will now be responsible for marketing our own work. We're told that when we submit our novel proposals, we'd better show that we have a web presence.
Are all entrepreneurs narcissists? I don't think so. Most writers I know don't enjoy self-promotion, but they do it because their occupation now requires it.
Personally, I enjoy blogging and reading other people's blogs. It's an opportunity to get past the small talk that dominates most of our daily lives. It's a window of intimacy, not narcissism. My blogging friends and I encourage one another with our posts, and we find companionship because of our similar interests.
I don't really love the "promotion" part. I don't like posting links to my blog on Facebook. I'm aware that my Facebook friends who are not part of the writing community may not realize that blog promotion is an occupational requirement for mainstream fiction writers. There may be some assumption that I'm self-promoting. But I hope that most of my real friends know the difference between professional promotion and personal narcissism.
Whether I like every promotional aspect of writerhood or not, I've gotta do it. Accordingly, I try to focus on the positive part of promotion, which for me is the opportunity to get to know a lot of people and learn more about their life stories and their perspectives on writing and faith. That is rewarding. That is meaningful.
What do you think about this narcissism business?
** I should also clarify that I am using the word "narcissism" in its popular sense of "vain and self-absorbed," as it was used by the Texas Tech coach. Clinical narcissistic personality disorder is a different matter.