January 10, 2005
This Machine Kills Narcissists
I've been following the Nick Coleman/Powerline saga with interest. By now, all of us bloggers know what a dangerous threat we are to the powers that be — at least according to some of the powers that be. I’ve blogged about Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly, but they’re just two prancing drum majorettes in the endless parade of MSM blog-haters.
The other day, I happened upon a sprawling, fascinating site about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Some of the author’s writings on narcissists and the Internet really struck me. Check out the passages below, but for “narcissist” read “mainstream media,” or just insert the name of your favorite blog-hating personality. (Boldface mine.)
The Internet is an egalitarian medium where people are judged by the consistency and quality of their contributions rather than by the content or bombast of their claims. But the narcissist is driven to distracting discomfiture by a lack of clear and commonly accepted hierarchy (with himself at the pinnacle). He fervently and aggressively tries to impose the "natural order" — either by monopolizing the interaction or, if that fails, by becoming a major disruptive influence.
Sound familiar? Nick Coleman, does this resemble anyone you’ve seen in the mirror lately?
But the Internet may also be the closest many narcissists get to psychodynamic therapy. Because it is still largely text-based, the Web is populated by disembodied entities. By interacting with these intermittent, unpredictable, ultimately unknowable, ephemeral, and ethereal voices — the narcissist is compelled to project unto them his own experiences, fears, hopes, and prejudices.
The therapeutic process is set in motion by the — unbridled, uncensored, and brutally honest — reactions to the narcissist's repertory of antics, pretensions, delusions, and fantasies.
The narcissist — ever the intimidating bully — is not accustomed to such resistance. Initially, it may heighten and sharpen his paranoia and lead him to compensate by extending and deepening his grandiosity. Some narcissists withdraw altogether, reverting to the schizoid posture. Others become openly antisocial and seek to subvert, sabotage, and destroy the online sources of their frustration. A few retreat and confine themselves to the company of adoring sycophants and unquestioning groupies.
But take heart, pajamahadeen. The author says there is hope:
But a long exposure to the culture of the Net - irreverent, skeptical, and populist — usually exerts a beneficial effect even on the staunchest and most rigid narcissist. Far less convinced of his own superiority and infallibility, the online narcissist mellows and begins — hesitantly — to listen to others and to collaborate with them.
I think he’s only talking here about narcissists who actually participate in online culture, but who knows? As more and more MSM fixtures find themselves unable to ignore the internet, perhaps they will “begin — hesitantly — to listen to others.”
So I eagerly await the day when a mainstream media fixture says publicly, "Hey, I messed up. Everyone makes mistakes. I'd hate to think I was disseminating flat-out lies. Thanks, bloggers, for setting me straight!"
I have every hope I'll live to see that day. Or at least my grandchildren will. Maybe.
But narcissists can also decide only to seek out conclaves of people who think precisely as they do - see "Litle Bubble Worlds" at everything2.com, and Salon's articles on the "Echo Chamber" that misled the left before Bush's election.
Posted by: Joe Thorpe at January 10, 2005 11:40 PM
Agreed -- and that's the luxury the MSM have enjoyed for so long. (It's even mentioned in the excerpts above.) I believe that echo chambers also politically galvanize the shut-out opposition. In November, in a post called "Ave Atque Vale, Dan Rather," I wrote:
"The last thing any conservative should want is a conservative orthodoxy in the media. Liberals still haven't realized that their control of the MSM made conservative samizdat a burning necessity and instilled a sense of urgency in those who managed to find it on AM radio, on cable, or on the internet. Forbidden thoughts are always the most compelling, no?"
Posted by: EtherPundit at January 14, 2005 10:48 AM
It took me a while to figure out what was wrong with people like Ted Rall, Micah Wright, etc., until I started reading about NPD. Then it all fell into place. Once you understand what's compelling them to act that way, they're utterly predictable. More importantly, you know not to take it personally.
Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 16, 2005 08:41 AM
You're not alone... :P@ Soin: You just reiterated my point --- pelope with views like yours promote narcissists. Just because Kanye is a good musician does not give him the right to ruin things for someone else. Period. @ Archana: Yeah...Kim Clijsters feat was amazing...and her daughter is cute! :) I bet Kanye West would easily qualify for NPD. I mean, most celebs are narcissists but to have a PD...you have to be like him! @ Amol: Funny you say most are women...stats are not so. Men tend to be more narcissistic and that partly has to do with the way they are socialised. Also, it's important to make a distinction between being a narcissist and having NPD@ Reema: Glad it was informative... :)
Posted by: John at September 28, 2012 10:46 AM