Thursday, June 25, 2009

Paris Hilton and Narcissism

Greg Partch wrote me, "Hi all,

I'm conducting an informal survey, in the hopes of inspiring your best and most inspired thinking, on the subject of non-clinical narcissism. There is Narcissism, as a diagnosable personality disorder, and then there is,say, Paris Hilton, whose narcissism is more of byproduct of the cultural vapidity of contemporary America than it is a pathology. So, here's the question:

What would you make of a person who says, with a straight face: "I'm my #1 priority".

What sort of person would you imagine earnestly thinks likes this? Are they young, old, rich, poor, smart, American?

Any and all thoughts on this subject are welcome."


I've never met anyone who thinks like this in the Youngstown area. I can't imagine any of them thinking they deserved anything but a nice little house and some dogs. A lot of them don't even take vacations.

I lived in Eugene Oregon and been there a bunch of times and no one said or did anything that implied, "I'm my #1 priority".

I've known a lot of republicans and they all think, "White people are the first priority", but that still doesn't imply "I'm my #1 priority".

The only place I've run into "I'm my #1 priority" people is in New York City, they were all rich kids who didn't care about anything because they didn't have to. I was shocked by some of the people, it was like nothing bad had ever happened to them, and they were completely convinced that they should be controlling their reality at all times.

But I don't think America is overall like that, that is some dumb topical shit the media sells to sell more advertisements. Americans like all the general populations of the world are clueless, but they don't assume "I'm my #1 priority".

My roommate (Bernice) gave me this sentence, "Narcissism has become a past time."

Here are two people I know from Youngstown:

MH is the president of the philosophy club, he has twitter, facebook and all such things. He goes to indie rock shows and twitters like five times a day. Which seems narcissistic, but when you meet him in person at a bar or on campus he doesn't announce himself as The President of The Philosophy Department, he doesn't force you to talk about him, he probably does volunteer work.

Another person is GT, she has like 1300 pics of herself getting drunk on her facebook. The site is pretty narcissistic, she has pics of her going to the bathroom with her pants pulled down and pics in her bikini. But when you meet her in person she talks calmly, she listens, she has good responses, and she is trying to graduate college with a teaching degree.

So I think it appears that Americans enjoy playing super star when they are bored and alone at their house on their computers. But when they leave the computer room they act like normal people again.

14 comments:

andrew worthington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad said...

Is arrogance narcissistic? I've met plenty of those. I like to visit NYC but I feel like most people there are obnoxious. Sort of a superiority complex: I live in the best city in the world, what do you think of that? kind of attitude. I have a friend who comes from a wealthy family and he's one of the best guys I've known. But at the same time, I went to high school and college for 3 years with a bunch of rich kids and I would say that most of them were arrogant, racist and felt a sense of entitlement. When I dropped out of school I moved to SF and finally felt comfortable in a place for the first time in my life. In 6 years there I met maybe 4 0r 5 writers/musicians/painters artist types who just couldn't stop talking about themselves and how great their work was. I'd call them narcissistic. I'd say that Ike Turner was a narcissistic asshole. What about Oscar Wilde? He loved attention. But I agree with Noah that as a whole most people aren't narcissistic.

Mike said...

Man, that's a dumb survey. I think most look out for #1 out of survival, but to make the statement, "I'm my #1 priority," is just arrogant.

Mike said...

Oh, I don't think arrogance is narcissistic. Most arrogant people are insecure. I can be very arrogant, ha.

Anonymous said...

"I've never met anyone who thinks like this in the Youngstown area. I can't imagine any of them thinking they deserved anything but a nice little house and some dogs. A lot of them don't even take vacations."

That is exactly how I remember Canfield.

Anonymous said...

Poland too, none of those people are materialistic or think they are better than everyone else.

Noah Cicero said...

you're right

everyone in canfield thinks their awesome

cheif said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg Partch said...

You're probably right, Mike: it kind of is a dumb survey.

It's just that I encountered someone who said that to me, and I found it a jaw-dropping remark. But I probably don't get out enough, so I thought, hey, I'll poll some people by email and see what they think of someone saying "I'm my #1 priority."

Anyway, thanks Noah, for the response. I think your insight about people playing superstar on facebook and twitter out of boredom is really smart.

adam said...

I'm my number 5 priority.

redpencil said...

@ adam: touche'

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