The narcissists I have known in person thrive on being the center of attention. They fade rapidly when someone else steals the limelight. They are never satisfied with school or jobs because their standards are too high. They express themselves like they are showing off. They delight in "unsportsman-like conduct", exploitations and retaliations that hurt others' feelings. They are terrible listeners and extremely guarded in conversations. They have no concept of what others are seeing, wanting, needing or feeling. It's always "all about them and nobody else".Journalists have been recently using the label "narcissist" to describe bloggers who appear exhibitionist, self-centered and excessive. Higher ed blogs have linked to a new study identifying an increasing number of college students with narcissistic traits. There's even been concerns expressed by advocates of gaming and social networking that many "digital natives" are becoming "digital savages" who's self centeredness is antisocial and cruel.
This trend toward increasing numbers of narcissists runs counter to the trend I've been watching of increasing conversations, collaborations and communities forming with the bounty of new social networking tools. The growing number of narcissists raises questions about why it's occurring and how it will effect the future?A decade ago, an entrepreneur I was coaching became immersed in the problems created by two narcissists. His girl friend, and then his oldest daughter, both became manipulative and extremely inconsiderate. I was astonished and bewildered until I researched the psychology of narcissism. Then their behavior related to their absent self-concept which resulted from how they were parented. Narcissism makes sense.
The traits and effects of narcissism are portrayed by vampire lore. Second Life has several vampire communities roaming around. I've explored that blood thirsty imagery in a post: College Vampires on my Clues to College Blues blog. Where I previously considered how faculty members can drain the lifeblood out of students, in this post I'm considering how students and employees can de-energize the machine. I'm also wondering what breeding grounds naturally increase their numbers.Narcissism is the result of perfectionistic parenting. I could not fathom how the boomer parents of teens and twenty-somethings had become perfectionistic in vast numbers. It then dawned on me that it's not the human parents doing this damage, its the technology that has raised the younger generations.
Computers, software, game consoles, cell phones, PDA's - are all unforgiving. They demand compliance as if the tools have no tolerance, warmth or empathy. Technology acts like we don't exist beyond superficial acknowledgement and compliance with their rules. Our tools tell us how act as if there is no exceptions, deviations or self expression allowed. If you doubt that -- try pushing the wrong button, pulling down the wrong menu choice or clicking on the wrong link -- and see how understanding, attentive and supportive the technology becomes. Like so many science fiction scenarios, the machine has bred hordes of subhumans.On the surface this looks perfectly horrible. It appears like a setup for some nightmare unleashed on the planet. In the next post I'll explore how it is perfectly useful and developmentally essential for a large scale transition toward more personal freedom, dignity and creativity.