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Nella Coiro

Can We Counteract the Narcissism Epidemic?

I remember a time, not very long ago, when people actually cared about each other, and expected absolutely nothing in return. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie and compassion. People would hold the door open for the next person. They knew the words please and thank you. They were respectful. Neighbors actually looked out for each other. 

So what happened? I think that it was a combination of factors: the internet, social media, selfies, dysfunctional tv shows, and violent movies and video games. And so, we now live in a society that have moved from being community-centered to narcissistic and self-centered. An act of kindness often has strings attached. If someone is doing something to help you, it is because they believe it is benefiting them in some way.  If you are no longer of use to someone, they just got you like yesterday’s garbage.  

The human race is moving toward a sad place indeed.  

Social media is one of biggest contributing factors. People crave and have become addicted to getting attention from people they don’t even know. The “me,me,me” and “all about me” philosophy has flourished. People will spent hours taking selfie‘s of themselves, and then touching up and modifying these photos to hide any perceived imperfections, and they truly believe that other people really care about how they look in these photos. And yet, nobody thinks that this is unreasonable and, well… insane? This obsession with self importance has gone haywire.

And this narcissism extends beyond each individual and contaminates others in our society. I believe this mentality is the major reason why the United States has more COVID-19 cases than any other country on the planet. A simple thing like wearing a mask to protect other people is considered by some to be unacceptable and a unreasonable. Why? To be blunt, they simply don’t give a shit. 

They also know that since the mask is not an N 95 mask, and it will not protect them from catching something from you. It will protect you. Again, this mentality of “what’s in it for them“ seeps in. There are other reasons why this ignorant thinking prevails, but selfishness is a major contributing factor. And yet, if you ask the mask rebels if they would be okay if their doctors refused to wear as mask when examining them, they become miffed and cannot offer a logical explanation.

This societal narcissism has created an atmosphere where people lack empathy, where they’re only concerned with themselves, and where kindness and mutual respect is looked upon as weakness. 

This mindset has created another huge issue in society, and that’s the unwillingness to cooperate with others, and especially to agree to disagree. Our society has become incredibly disrespectful, abusive and, at times violent toward anyone who disagrees with them.

But wait… there’s hope

There are still heroes and heroic feats. It is most evident when we look at all the healthcare workers who have risked their own lives to save others during this pandemic. There are still people who have the ability to feel empathy for others.

There are still those who will step beyond their comfort zone for the greater good, and believe in fighting the good fight.There are still people who can empathize and feel for others. There are still those of us who will protest and fight for what’s right and stand up against injustice.

Therefore, although narcissism might be on the rise, it doesn’t have to be in inevitable. We have another choice.    

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