Friday, July 23, 2010

Narcissism Pandemic

Greetings Friends,

Wednesday's post got me thinking: is it me, or is the world all "me, me, me, me, me"?

I've long believed that the mobile phone is one of the most convenient and valuable technological advances. We've certainly come a long way since Maxwell Smart talked on his shoe-phone, and Michael Douglas spoke into that ridiculously large mobile contraption in Wall Street. But, I have to ask: has the mobile phone turned us into a world of insufferable narcissists?

The mobile phone is only a symptom; talk to anyone, and all they want to talk about is "me". Or "I". How does this benefit me? What do I get out of it? Screw everyone else...

Maybe I'm exaggerating. But, in almost every scenario, there are the self-centred individuals who always want to put themselves ahead of everyone else. In the workplace, they want all their co-workers to believe they're the only ones capable of doing the job right; they put in the most hours, they work the hardest, they rarely take any time off. Even friendships and familial relationships are not exempt from the narcissism pandemic; you know you know what I'm talking about: that one full-of-hot-air relative who thinks he/she knows everything about everything. The friend for whom you would walk barefoot over hot coals and broken glass; she rewards that loyalty by forgetting your birthday.

Sour grapes aside, these people surely exist the same way death and taxes do. As much as we want to deny it, almost everyone has a narcissistic side to them. Yes, there are those people who are unabashedly altruistic; ask yourself: why are they that way? Because they want others to praise them for all the good they do.

My dear departed Great Aunt Shirley used to say, "Everyone has a 'peckel'". "Peckel" is the Yiddish word for "package". In this context, "peckel" means a package of problems. And that saying is truer today than it was when I was a kid, when Aunt Shirley used to tell me I wouldn't understand what it meant until I was much older. Now, I understand it only too well. Even so, a person with a kind, unselfish heart will always find time to consider the plight of others. They are capable of empathy, whereas the narcissist just floats on by without a thought for anyone else's peckel except their own.

I'm all for gathering up the world's narcissists into a huge pen and tagging them with a great big neon pink "N", like Hester Prynne's scarlet "A". That way, we always see them coming before they strike. Honestly, the mobile phone is only a contributing factor; it does not fully reveal the true nature of the person using it. Although, that's not always the case; the person yakking for the sake of yakking in the doctor's office waiting room, or in a public bathroom, of all places, is probably the same person who would step daintily right over you if you happened to keel over at their feet in the midst of a massive stroke. Now, if it was them...

Enjoy your weekend.


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