Friday, September 26, 2008

"Yahoo News: Facebook Profiles Out Narcissists"

My reaction to the article: "duh?"

Let's face it, folks. We are a culture who is fascinated with ourselves. The children of the baby-boomers. Gen-X. Gen-Y. Yeah, us. We can't get enough of ourselves. Just take a gander at what has popped up on the Internet in the past 10 years. "Myspace... Facebook.... and , YouTube, and yes, Blogger."

Everything is about our efforts to be significant. We slap hundreds of pictures up about ourselves and want people to come and look. We post a bazillion facts about ourselves and we want people to come and look. We post thousands of inane stories about ourselves and we want people to come and look... We write blogs for a year or so and suddenly believe that we are Faulkner.

Now, not all of this is bad, of course, but it is a symptom of a total and complete obsession with ourselves. We are insulted if people don't comment. We are insulted if people aren't watching our videos. We keep a close record of how many people are coming to our websites. We enroll in silly surveys to get more people coming so we feel better. We silently compete with other friends for number of friends in facebook or Myspace or even comments. We look with glowing pride at how many links we have.

We are so narcissistic that we raise our kids up to be our friends, afraid that they won't "like" us or think we are cool. In doing so, we destroy their ability to submit to authority, and God help us in 20 years. (I always say that your child should fear you as much as they love you, or at least 25% as much as they love you.)

But enough about the kids, this is about us. This is about our inability to stop thinking about ourselves. My lord, it is almost like everywhere we look we see that mirror, or pool of water for which we can gaze at ourselves. Be honest, how many times do you look into that pool a day? (Pool=facebook, youtube, blogger, myspace) Is it "just for fun?" or is it a symptom of something else? Does it haunt you?

So what do we really want out of life? Is it our dreams? I think most times it is less about dreams than it is about wanting worship, adoration. It is as old as the Garden of Eden, people. It is the seed that we are born with and God must uproot. We want significance. And significance comes from one place and one place alone, my friends - The Good Lord. (The trickiest thing being: When we seek the Lord, I believe God does gives us dreams. When we step out in faith to pursue them, it is a delicate balance of never letting those dreams become idols. It is easy to do something you don't love and "serve the Lord with it." It is much harder to do your passion and constantly, every day, yield it to the Father.) So go for your dreams, but make sure you aren't doing them to be significant. You already are that.

I learned this about myself when I went to Kentucky this summer. I had no internet, no TV and darn-near no phone. I was FORCED to interact with other people, and lots of them. Most of you know, I am a little OCD. I've got problems. And no, that isn't cool. People think it is all cool to have some sort of horrible disorder. It is not. Just try worrying about dying until you have to pull your car over from having a panic attack. Try obsessing over something until it completely consumes you and you are thrown in to the pit of despair. Yeah, that's fun. I work my butt off every day to beat it. It is hard, don't wish it upon anyone, least of all yourself. I'd trade places with Mr. or Mrs. sunshine, ANY DAY.

Anyways, Kentucky... After about a month, I wasn't sure if I'd ever go back to blogging or even the Internet altogether. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision. I think so. But I have to monitor it. I only allow 1 hour of Internet a day. I only allow myself to go to some blogs. I don't go to negative blogs or ones that get me ridiculously fired up. I read one or two news feeds a day. (Getting a newspaper subscription, much better. You avoid the endless surfing and worrying. Plus it is a billion times better writing.)

Sorry for the rant, but this particular headline set me off. If you are like me, stop searching for the pool or mirror. Look for other people to pour your life into - your kids, your spouse, your friends, your church... Those are the treasures that don't rust or rot. In every attempt to look in that mirror you only build a false sense of significance and everything is distorted and motives are turned evil. When you seek the face of God, you find that all that crap you were worried about is completely laughable. They don't compare. That's what Paul said when he said "I count them all DUNG in comparison."


Popcorn said...

Wow. I feel guilty that I was gazing into my pool and now I've been caught gazing into yours. I agree with you guy. Kentucky did it for you, Ike did it for me. The interaction it sparked was a real eye opener.

Seth Ward said...

lol, popcorn. I was afraid that this would be a big guilt trip... It was mostly directed towards me...

I also have a blog in the can about what I've heard that Ike did for my Houston friends... You guys are just the salt of the earth! We miss ya!

Joanna Martens said...

I'm guilty of this... guilt. GUILT! GUILTY!!! (old english wooden hammer drops)

Chaotic Hammer said...

This is excellent, Seth. I don't see it as a guilt trip at all. It's a very wise, level-headed reality-check we should all engage in periodically.

Super Churchlady said...

True Dat. (I think it must be especially tempting for those with an artistic bent and a desire to perform to "lay off" the mirrors.) Proud of you!

Seth Ward said...

Joanna, that old english hammer is probably already broken on my account.

Superchurchlady, yes, yes it is.

Kelly said...

Mine, mine, mine. I am glad to have scrolled down, Seth. In fact, as I read I had to think to myself as I chatted to the LORD, "You must be trying to send a message to me..." Why? Well, as I pulled into the parking lot I am staying for the next nights, I was led to take a moment--mind you, a QT in the car with Him, which I savor, by the way. However, it was interesting it was right there and then prior to checking in and all. He led me to John 20/21. Remember when He asked Peter if he loved Him? Peter replied each time Jesus asked Him with phileo love; however, it was not until after the Day of Pentecost when Peter was finally able to love Christ with agape love. I shared all that to hopefully paint the picture that I concur.

There is nothing like seek God first not merely by words but also in action. How much time do we really devote to Him? As a friend would sing, "life is what I do with Your time..." The more in love I am with Him and the closer to His heart, the more I desire to please Him with every breath...Of course, we know that there is nothing wrong with wealth, but it is a matter of what is most important to us...I pray God would be our top priority and loving as He loved to run the race called life for He is our strong embrace as we look to the day we see Him vis-a-vis. Alas, I must conclude another reminder from Him (Psalm 62:10):

Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.

Then Solomon, I would purport, explains why we can't set our hearts on riches, success, etc.

Proverbs 23
[4] Do not overwork to be rich;
Because of your own understanding, cease!

[5] Will you set your eyes on that which is not?
For riches certainly make themselves wings;
They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

Kelly said...

Ooops, I meant to state the parking lot of the hotel I was going to stay for a couple of nights... and another typo:"...seeking God...," and "...conclude with another reminder from Him..."

Tully said...

Wow! What a great post! I am impressed by not only your writing style but by your critical thinking – not that you needed my approval, but just saying.

I loathe MySpace and Facebook. I’ve tried them both just to see what all the fuss was about and agree that they were very much targeting a narcissistic demographic. Between competing for the most number of “friends” (which most people don’t REALLY know – I mean come on, do you really think Brittany Spears is your friend?) and the lame attempts to make your profile much cooler than you yourself really are, it was just strange. AND it seemed like it was just a cyber flashback to high school…piss off someone on MySpace and they will take you out of their “Top 8”…or worse yet, drop you altogether (oh no) so that your privileges to worship them are revoked. The only good thing that ever came out of my time on either site is that I reconnected with some friends from high school that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten back in touch with…and a couple I communicate with almost daily now and one I vacationed with this year…but, even with that upside, I’ll likely not ever go on them again.

As for blogging…I’m torn. Given the world that we live in and the interconnectedness that the Internet provides, I see blogging more as a cyber-conversation with friends (some old, some new) to share ideas and views, stories about our lives from different vantage points (you in NY, someone else in UT), and perhaps to find some common ground that’s based on something other than assumptions. I guess there is a touch of narcissism in blogging – but I think most of us do it because we want to connect. I like people commenting because otherwise it’s just a one way conversation and I already know how I think and feel, I’m more interested in what others have to say (respectfully). But you are right, it’s a slippery slope and can easily turn into something negative if you don’t limit your time and maintain some self reflection as to WHY it’s important to you.