Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

“The Online Looking Glass”

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

In a recent New York Times OpEd piece Ross Douthat wrote of the recent challenges facing Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York.

Writing in the late ’70s, Lasch distinguished modern narcissism from old-fashioned egotism. The contemporary narcissist, he wrote, differs “from an earlier type of American individualist” in “the tenuous quality of his selfhood.” Despite “his occasional illusions of omnipotence, the narcissist depends on others to validate his self-esteem.” His innate insecurity can only be overcome “by seeing his ‘grandiose self’ reflected in the attentions of others, or by attaching himself to those who radiate celebrity, power and charisma.”

This is a depressingly accurate anticipation of both the relationship between Weiner and his female “followers,” and the broader “look at me! look at meeeee!” culture of online social media, in which nearly all of us participate to some degree or another.

Facebook and Twitter did not forge the culture of narcissism. But they serve as a hall of mirrors in which it flourishes as never before – a “vast virtual gallery,” as Rosen has written, whose self-portraits mainly testify to “the timeless human desire for attention.”

And as Anthony Weiner just found out, it’s very easy to get lost in there.

I loved the reference to the “hall of mirrors” in which it is “very easy to get lost.”  That is an accurate portrayal of the world in which we find ourselves, a world in which conversations around the “common good” appear quiet at this time.

We can lose ourselves individually that way.  Churches can loose their way as well.  I often think that maybe Jesus’ last word’s to me as I leave this earth will be said with a big smile, and what they will say is “It was never about you.”  Then I know I will have found my Self – that by His grace, I got out of the hall of mirrors!