I confess I don’t know much about Tom Wolfe (RIP), but have only begun learning about his brilliance this past week from his obits and write-ups in the news. Of course I’ve used the phrase “The Me Decade” to describe the 1970s, never even knowing that he coined it. How embarrassing! I’m adding The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Bonfire of the Vanities to my reading list.
I think a strong argument can be made that the Me Decade hasn’t ended and shows no signs of abating anytime soon. All the selfies and oversharing, plus the endless quiz-taking, are encouraged by industries whose purpose is to make us feel insecure about ourselves, and are part of an infinite loop of superficial self-examination, wasting our time and energy as we search for enlightenment in our belly button lint, rather than expanding our horizons outward for fulfillment. I’m no stranger to these behaviors myself.
But something interesting has happened, a small thing, but interesting nevertheless: since I quit Facebook and Instagram two months ago, I haven’t taken any photos of food. My life is no worse for this; I don’t miss these pics at all. In fact, that was simply another superficial way to “connect” with people online when we really had nothing in common. In my opinion, this obsession with selfies, including food pics (unless you’re a restaurant critic or recipe blogger), is part of the narcissistic sickness of society. Notice me! Like me! Follow me! We see our favorite celebrity posting 857 photos of their face and we think we should too. It’s headshot day! Gah.
I suggest that the me-ness of the Me Decade never disappeared but instead spilled into online life, splashing over all we did, turning the entire social media experience from information-based, when it began, to communication-based, for a time, and finally now into a monstrous narcissistic ouroboros that not only controls how we behave online but offline too. We are even more self-centered now than we were in the 1970s despite allegedly “connecting” with all sorts of people different from us all over the world. We don’t actually do this in any kind of meaningful way. I doubt most of us even begin to relate to people in our own neighborhoods and what issues they might have in this primary election, if they are different from our own. All I see is people ready to bully, disparage, and dismiss anyone who thinks differently from them, more now than ever.
If you don’t conform to my reflection of myself, I push you out of the picture. Turn the camera back to selfie mode. Ah, much better. Smile. Click.
I know some of you probably thought I would jabber on about the narcissists I’ve dated and link to my new poetry book All She Wrote, which explores quite a bit on that theme, when you saw the prompt “narcissism”… well, surprise! I actually do have otter things to say sometimes besides look at my stupid mistakes. 😀
The Daily Prompt: Narcissism