The other day, my dad shared a disturbing article on Facebook. The opinion piece, “We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists,” disturbed me not only because 1. my dad is on Facebook and 2. the article is a product of Fox News, but also because 3. it just so happens that I (and all of you, I assume) belong to this age-group of so-called narcissists.
The author, Dr. Keith Ablow, suggests that social networking sites allow us to create false identities, which in turn inflates our egos and heightens our real-world expectations.
First of all, watch this video of Dr. Ablow stating his case on Fox News. Is this man not narcissism personified, if not a case-study of clinical delusion?
Second of all, he’s right though, to an extent, kind of…(not really)
The rapid development of social media and technology over the last decade is undoubtedly affecting how we, as social beings, evolve. Born headfirst into the Digital Age, our generation faces a large-scale identity crisis and, in the coming years, it is up to us to decide how mankind will coexist with its digital self.
To call us “deluded,” though, is to say that we’re not aware of how technology affects our lives. Everyday, as I browse the Internet, I feel the outer limits of my attention-span shrinking. Consider the iPhone, a device through which all my friends interact constantly. Being one of the few who doesn’t have a smartphone, I feel as if I’ve been excluded from some digital extension of my friend group. The point is that we’re not deluded, but all the more cognizant of how, within months, the iPhone has changed the social structure of our friend group.
Now, besides the article’s not-so-hidden political rhetoric (which I don’t have the time to get into), Ablow is additionally wrong in arguing that this trend in egoism is generational. I place no stake in surveys that claim that colleges students are less empathetic or more self-centered than previous generations. Is technology making us less empathetic, or are Facebook and Twitter merely revealing how narcissistic we’ve been all along? Without getting all solipsistic, if you don’t believe that humans are inherently selfish then you need to wake up and smell your own stench. How can we be anything other than narcissists?
And if it’s true that technology is inflating our ego, is that necessarily bad? Facebook and Twitter have become an outlet for millions of unheard voices, for musicians, intellectuals and comedians, for social introverts and the previously censored. Are we raising a generation of deluded narcissists, or are we raising a generation who is more tolerant, more compassionate and more in tune with the world around them than ever before?
“Bottom line is, what we have to do is stop this craziness where we give kids who lose on sports teams ribbons and trophies,” argues Old Man Ablow as to why the darn kids won’t get off his lawn. This article may just be the ramblings of a cranky old man with ulterior, anti-gun-control motives, but he does skim the surface of what I feel is the greatest problem of 2013 and onward: When is enough, enough? What is the end goal of our technological expansion? How long before our iPads and MacBooks reflect an image we’re not so proud of?